Children return to school & funerals continue as US debates on gun control

Children Return

NEWTOWN, Connecticut — Children in a school bus pressed their faces to the windows as they watched mourners gather Tuesday for two more 6-year-olds killed in last week’s Connecticut school shooting. Most students returned to school for the first time, as the toll of funerals for the 28 dead continued on a wet day, the Associated Press reported.

The national debate on gun control sharpened as a prominent private equity firm said it would sell the country’s largest firearms manufacturer, calling Friday’s mass shooting, one of the worst in U.S. history, a “watershed” moment. In Washington, President Barack Obama signalled support for efforts to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Security remained high in Newtown, and the small, affluent community was still on edge as the rest of the country prepared for the Christmas holidays. Funerals were held for 6-year-old James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, among the 20 young students killed. All were 6 or 7 years old.

In a sign of investors distancing themselves from U.S. gun makers, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell arms manufacturer Freedom Group, which makes the rifle thought to have been used in Friday’s rampage.

The mystery of why a smart but severely withdrawn 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, shot his mother to death in bed before rampaging through Sandy Hook Elementary was as deep as ever. The school will remain closed indefinitely.

A Connecticut official said Nancy Lanza, a gun enthusiast who practiced at shooting ranges, was found dead in her pyjamas, shot four times in the head with a .22-calibre rifle.

Investigators say Lanza had no ties to the school he attacked, and they have found no letters or diaries that could explain why he targeted it. He forced into the school shortly after its front door locked as part of a new security measure. He wore all black and is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military’s M-16. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the U.S. under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote to Obama and Congress calling for a ban on assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines like those used Friday.