Six funerals to be held in Newtown, as gun control debate heats up
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:25AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:32PM EST
Another six funerals will take place today in Newtown, Conn., as the town remains in deep mourning after a gunman killed 28 people, including himself, at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week.
School Principal Dawn Hochsprung -- who was killed along with five of her staff and 20 students -- will be laid to rest Wednesday, as will Grade 1 teacher Victoria Soto, who has been hailed as a hero for dying as she tried to shield some of her students from the spray of bullets.
Funerals are also scheduled for Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, and Caroline Previdi, 6. A public visitation and prayer vigil was to be held for seven-year-old Chase Kowalski.
CTV’s Washington Bureau Chief Paul Workman says he expects the solemn ceremonies on Wednesday to be very large, very mournful gatherings.
"It's another terrible day here, absolutely. There are six funerals today and of course, the principal was very, very well love," he said. "This community is still having to come to grips with these rituals of burial. They're difficult."
Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter, is believed to have shot and killed his mother before driving to the school and carrying out the massacre, which ended after he killed 26 people before turning the gun on himself.
Wednesday’s funerals come as the debate over gun control in the U.S. heats up. The White House issued a statement Tuesday saying President Barack Obama was "actively supporting" efforts to reinstate a ban on assault weapons -- such as the one used in the Connecticut shooting.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Obama will support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s plan to reintroduce legislation early next year to reinstate the ban. Obama has long supported reinstating the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, but did not push for it in his first term as president.
Obama is scheduled to make an announcement Wednesday morning, and is widely expected to announce that Vice-President Joe Biden will head an inter-agency task force to come up with proposals on gun control. The White House has said Obama would also support legislation aimed at preventing private dealers from selling guns to people without doing background checks.
The U.S. president has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to keep America’s children safe in the wake of Friday’s tragic shooting.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the House of Representatives discussed gun violence at a regular closed-door meeting Tuesday, with some saying they’d be willing to consider certain gun control measures.
And the National Rifle Association broke its silence Tuesday with a statement announcing a “major news conference” Friday to address the Newtown shooting.
“Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting,” the statement said. “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
Most students in Newtown began returning to school Tuesday after classes were cancelled across the district on Monday.
Sandy Hook Elementary, however, will likely be considered a crime scene for months. As a result, the district is looking at sending the students to a middle school in nearby Monroe, Conn., which has sat empty since last year.
Local school officials have confirmed they have found "no connection" linking Lanza and Sandy Hook school, despite previous reports to the contrary.
In an effort to piece together what happened in the Sandy Hook shooting, police will be interviewing two adults who survived the shooting spree and who are now recovering from their injuries, as well as some of the children who were at the school that day.