* Sandy Hook Elementary to remain closed
* Funerals continue for young victims
* NRA breaks silence as gun control debate grows louder
By Edward Krudy and Peter Rudegeair
NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec 18 Most students returned to
school in the shattered Connecticut community of Newtown on
Tuesday for the first time since a gunman's rampage killed 26
people in an elementary school, reviving the gun control debate
Breaking its silence for the first time since the shootings,
the powerful gun industry lobby, the National Rifle Association,
said it was "shocked, saddened and heartbroken" and was
"prepared to offer meaningful contributions" to prevent such
Businesses also reacted. One retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods
< DKS.N>, pulled all guns from its store closest to Newtown and
suspended the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles in its
stores nationwide. A private equity firm said it would sell its
investments in a gunmaker after pressure from a major teachers'
Sandy Hook Elementary, where Adam Lanza gunned down 20 6-
and 7-year-olds and six adults on Friday, remained closed. It
was a crime scene on Tuesday, with police coming and going past
a line of 26 Christmas trees, one for each victim, decorated
with ornaments, stuffed animals and balloons in the school
colors of green and white.
The rest of Newtown's schools reopened with grief counselors
and police present, while two families buried their children.
"It's going to be awful, doing the things we used to do,"
said Miguel, 16, who stopped by a doughnut shop on his way to
Newtown High School. "There's going to be a lot of tears."
The massacre shocked Americans even after a rash of mass
shootings, prompting some Republican lawmakers to open the door
to a national debate about gun control, a small sign of easing
in Washington's entrenched reluctance to seriously consider new
The NRA uses political pressure against individual lawmakers
and others to press for loosening constraints on gun sales and
ownership across the United States while promoting hunting and
The group, which said it had not commented until now out of
respect for the families and to allow time for mourning and an
investigation, planned a news conference on Friday.
NEWTOWN BURIES ITS CHILDREN
President Barack Obama called for action at a Sunday night
prayer vigil in Newtown, and Democratic lawmakers have sought a
new push for U.S. gun restrictions, including a ban on assault
weapons such as the Bushmaster AR-15-style assault rifle used by
The 20-year-old gunman carried hundreds of rounds of
ammunition in extra clips and shot his victims repeatedly, one
of them 11 times. He also shot and killed his mother before
driving to the school, and then killed himself to end the
massacre with a death toll of 28.
When Sandy Hook students go back to school, it will be at
the unused Chalk Hill School in nearby Monroe, where a sign
across the street read, "Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary!" There
was no immediate word on when that would be.
Police have warned it could take months to wrap up the
investigation, which was set back because Lanza smashed his
computer's hard drive, preventing police from retrieving any
data, The New York Times reported, citing a senior law
A day after the first two children were buried, funerals
took place on Tuesday for James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos. Each
was 6 years old. Six funerals were set for Wednesday.
"I just feel its important to be here. I wanted to sit in
the back and pay respect. I wanted to cry," said Angela Bergen,
who drove 90 minutes from Elizabeth, New Jersey, with her
13-year-old son Jack to attend the Mattioli funeral.
At Newtown High School, three girls hugged each other in the
parking lot before starting for the doorway. Counseling was
available in the gym for students and staff.
Nanci Wallenta, taking her friend's son to middle school,
said she was unworried about security and determined to get back
"It's an isolated incident," Wallenta said. "You can't go
through life being afraid. You can't live in fear. ... We're a
ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN RECONSIDERED
White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that Obama
would support U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's effort to craft
legislation to reinstate an assault weapons ban that lapsed in
2004, and would also back any law to close a loophole related to
"People have talked about high-capacity gun ammunition
clips, for example, and that is something certainly that he
would be interested in looking at," Carney added.
Obama spoke earlier in the day with Democratic Senator Joe
Manchin of West Virginia, a gun rights advocate who said he
would now be open to more regulation of military-style rifles.
Some Republicans have shown signs they too are willing to
discuss gun control after Newtown.
"You are going to have some people (Republicans) who never,
never go there," said Representative Steve LaTourette, an Ohio
Republican. "But yes, I think most Republicans are willing to
have a very, very serious conversation about what this means and
taking a second look at what the Second Amendment means in the
That amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right
of Americans to bear arms.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent an open letter to Obama
urging him to act alone by exercising his executive power
in addition to working with Congress.
U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management
announced on Tuesday it was selling its investment in gunmaker
Freedom Group after a major investor, the California State
Teachers' Retirement System, said it was reviewing its
investment with Cerberus.
CalSTRS, the second largest pension fund in the United
States, had invested $751.4 million with Cerberus by the end of
March 2012, according to its website. Cerberus bought firearms
maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun
companies to create Freedom Group.
While Dick's pulled some guns from its shelves, Wal-Mart
Stores Inc took down an informational website about
semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles. Cabela's Inc continued
to advertise AR-15-type Bushmaster rifles on its website, though
it said the weapons were not available for sale online or at its