US massacre town dwellers take a stand

NEWTOWN — Residents of Newtown gathered yesterday to share ideas on how, after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the small Connecticut town can escape the designation of “just another site” of a school shooting in America.

A hearse passes a banner with the words “Pray for Newtown” in Connecticut yesterday.

The group, calling themselves Newtown United, said they hoped that as long as the country’s eyes stare mournfully on this sleepy town, something powerful could come of the shooting on Friday that left 20 first graders, and six teachers and administrators, dead.

Most of all, they talked about guns. And their discussion showed that Newtown, like the rest of the United States, has a long way to go to reach consensus.

“I would like, when you think of Sandy Hook, you think, ‘Oh, that’s where they banned assault weapons,” said John Neuhoff, a retired painting conservateur who lives in Newtown. “If we can ban fireworks, we should be able to ban assault weapons.”

Neuhoff said his 13-year-old daughter had volunteered to launch a petition drive.

Newtown United was formed on Sunday night, two days after 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother at their Newtown home and then drove five miles to the elementary school, where he opened fire on classrooms of first graders before turning the gun on himself. About 55 people attended Monday’s meeting.

Feeling of helplessness

“There’s a big feeling of helplessness, at least for me,” said Lee Shull, one of the group’s organisers. “There’s been so much media attention, and part of this is to take advantage of that … We need to turn this into something positive.” (Reuters)

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