Funerals Begin for Shooting Victims of Sandy Hook

bjbj JUDY WOODRUFF: A holiday season that
should have been alive with the joy of children is now instead a season of mourning their
loss in Newtown, Conn. The first of the funerals took place today for the victims of the massacre
at an elementary school. Ray Suarez begins our coverage. RAY SUAREZ: Flowers streamed
into funeral homes around Newtown, as the shock and horror of Friday gave way to grim
rituals of grief. Mourners in black waited under gray skies to attend services for Jack
Pinto and Noah Pozner, two of the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. And, everywhere,
it is clear the townspeople are still reeling. JOHVANY OSPINA, Newtown, Conn., resident:
Really sad. I didn’t want to go back to work today. It hit me hard because I got two kids
the same age that happened to these kids. And it hit — it really hit, hit really hard,
like a parent, like a dad. RAY SUAREZ: A somber weekend had concluded with last night’s vigil
at Newtown High School, about a mile away from the scene of the killings. (APPLAUSE)
RAY SUAREZ: Police and emergency personnel got a standing ovation as they entered the
auditorium. President Obama met privately with the victims’ families before addressing
the shaken crowd. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can only hope it helps for you to know that
you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across
this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight. And you must
know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion
of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown,
you are not alone. RAY SUAREZ: The weekend also brought new details in the investigation.
Police confirmed the rampage began when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother inside
their home. It turned out Nancy Lanza was a gun enthusiast. Her son took some of her
weapons and drove to Sandy Hook Elementary, where he forced his way into the school and
opened fire. In all, he killed 26 people there, six adults and 20 first-graders. All of the
children were 6 and 7 years old, and all were shot multiple times. State police Lt. Paul
Vance said today Lanza still had hundreds more rounds when he killed himself as officers
were closing in. LT. J. PAUL VANCE, Connecticut State Police: I can’t speculate what would
have occurred. That would be wrong on my part. I can tell you that the faculty and staff
in that school did everything that they possibly could to protect those children. I can tell
you that first-responders that got to that scene, the active shooter team entered that
school and saved many human lives. And I can tell you it broke our hearts that we couldn’t
save them all. RAY SUAREZ: Lanza’s motive remains a mystery. He had no apparent connection
to the school and his mother wasn’t a teacher there, as early reports indicated. The school
itself is now a crime scene with no indication if or when it might reopen. LT. J. PAUL VANCE:
I can’t even tell you what that means. I don’t know how long that will be. I’m suspecting
months. And at that time, it’s up to the town officials to determine exactly what is appropriate
with that facility, with that building. RAY SUAREZ: Meanwhile, schools in two nearby towns,
Ridgefield and Redding, Conn., were placed on lockdown this morning after reports of
a suspicious person. And school systems elsewhere also asked for more police patrols. As communities
around the nation talk about the need for better security in schools, here in Washington,
the debate is returning to the always thorny issue of gun control. Members of Congress
are starting to be heard on gun law, heeding the president’s call to act to prevent another
atrocity. As he had on Friday, the president pressed for change last night, regardless,
he said, of the politics. BARACK OBAMA: In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power
this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals,
to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. RAY
SUAREZ: And today at the Capitol, there were early signs of a possible break in the long
deadlock on gun control. On MSNBC, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat and gun rights
advocate, said Newtown has changed the conversation. SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.V.: I ask all my friends
in the NRA — and I’m a proud NRA member and always have been — that we need to sit down
and move this dialogue to a sensible, reasonable approach to fixing it. It’s part of it, not
all of it. But everything has to be on the table, and I think it will be. RAY SUAREZ:
This afternoon, the Senate opened with a moment of silence for the Newtown victims. Then Majority
Leader Harry Reid announced the chamber will examine the nation’s gun laws. SEN. HARRY
REID, D-Nev.: We will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how
to change laws and culture and allow this violence to continue to grow. We have no greater
responsibility than keeping our most vulnerable and most precious resource, our children,
safe. And every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that. RAY
SUAREZ: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t endorse Reid’s initiative. But he didn’t reject
it either. Instead, he kept his remarks focused on the tragedy. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.:
Any time there’s a shooting like this, we’re crushed with sorrow. But there’s no escaping
the fact that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary stands out for its awfulness. The murder of
so many little children and the adults who tried to save them doesn’t just break our
hearts. It shatters them. RAY SUAREZ: And outside Washington, there were other calls
to curb gun violence. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined survivors and victims’
relatives demanding action. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, I-New York: Last night, the president
said he would use whatever powers his office holds to address this violence. And I think
it is critical that he do so. Words alone cannot heal our nation. Only action can do
that. Gun violence is a national epidemic and a national tragedy that demands more than
words. RAY SUAREZ: The mayor urged Congress to reinstate a ban on assault-style weapons
like the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that Adam Lanza used Friday. Versions of that gun were
outlawed in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004. A new poll out today from ABC and The Washington
Post found 54 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws in general. Still, 71 percent
oppose banning the sale of handguns. And, in addition to gun control, there are new
appeals to identify and help treat potentially troubled individuals before there’s a tragedy.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy spoke this afternoon in Hartford. GOV. DAN MALLOY, D-Conn.: Are
we doing enough from a mental health perspective to reach out to kids and families who are
obviously in trouble? My sense is we are not. And we need to look at that within our own
state and within our own nation. RAY SUAREZ: The governor also called for a moment of silence
and for churches to ring their bells for the shooting victims Friday morning. urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags
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place JUDY WOODRUFF: A holiday season that should have been alive with the joy of children
is now instead a season of mourning their loss in Newtown, Connecticut Normal Microsoft
Office Word JUDY WOODRUFF: A holiday season that should have been alive with the joy of
children is now instead a season of mourning their loss in Newtown, Connecticut Title Microsoft
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