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Newtown students return to school (+video)

Students in Newtown, Connecticut, other than those from Sandy Hook Elementary, went back to school on Tuesday. Friday's mass shooting has left the community in recovery mode and politicians around the country rethinking the nation's gun laws. 

By Edward Krudy and Peter RudegeairReuters / December 18, 2012


NEWTOWN, Conn.

Most students returned to school in the devastated 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 in Washington.

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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 massacres.

Businesses also reacted. One retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods, 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 the company that makes the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifle used in the shootings after pressure from a major teachers' pension fund.

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 prompted 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 federal restrictions.

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 gun sports.

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 Lanza.

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.

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 enforcement official.

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.

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