White House readies gun-control plan as more Sandy Hook victims laid to rest

Pall bearers carry the casket of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Victoria Soto out of the Lordship Community Church after her funeral ceremony in Stratford, Connecticut.

President Barack Obama assigned Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to find ways to curtail gun violence in America and try to avoid tragedies like the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, where the town buried one of its heroes on Wednesday.

With Newtown still in mourning from last Friday’s shooting, when a 20-year-old gunman shot dead 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then himself, Biden took the assignment to produce recommendations and report back to Obama in time for the president’s State of the Union address in late January.

Obama’s initiative addressed national outrage over the shootings in Connecticut, which have prompted longtime gun-rights supporters to reconsider their positions and a major private equity firm to put its gun-making business up for sale.

Funerals or wakes were held for four of Newtown’s children on Wednesday, as well as the school principal. Teacher Victoria Soto, who is credited with saving half her class of 6- and 7-year-olds by diverting the shooter and hiding the children in a closet, was also laid to rest.

“Vicki achieved in her 27 years what many of us will never achieve if we live to be a hundred,” the Reverend Meg Boxwell Williams told the funeral service. “Her last act was absolutely selfless, Christ-like, laying down her life for her children.”

Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother at home and then killed 20 children and six adults at the school before shooting himself in the head, officials said.

Soto hid her students in a closet when she heard the shooting start early Friday morning, and when Lanza entered Soto’s classroom she tried to throw him off by telling him the students were at the other end of the school in an auditorium, the Hartford Courant reported, citing unnamed law-enforcement officials.

Lanza shot six of the children when they tried to run, and police later found the remaining seven students still hiding in the closet, the Courant said. Those children told law enforcement officials what had happened, the Courant reported.

The account provided Newtown with a positive story to cling to following the horrible events that left the nation stunned.

Soto’s death “mixed with the glad knowledge that her sacrifice saved so many children,” Williams said.

MOURNERS LINE THE STREETS

Some 30 police motorcycles from surrounding towns led the hearse carrying Soto’s body to the service in Stratford, Connecticut. About 200 mourners lined the streets outside the church, including a mother and daughter from Maryland who never met Soto but made the long drive because they were touched by her bravery in trying to protect the children in her class.

The family of the school’s slain principal, Dawn Hochsprung, invited mourners to visit a local funeral home on Wednesday. Her burial was due to be private at an undisclosed time.

Hundreds braved a bitter wind to pay their respects to the fallen principal, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

After the service for Daniel Barden, 7, a bagpiper played “America the Beautiful,” as hundreds of police officers and firefighters, some from New York City and distant towns, stood in formation outside.

The little boy loved his family, riding waves at the beach, playing drums, foosball, reading and making s’mores around a bonfire at his grandfather’s house, said an obituary in the Newtown Bee newspaper.

Funerals were also held for for Charlotte Bacon and Caroline Previdi, both 6, and a wake for Chase Kowalski, 7.

The massacre prompted some Republican lawmakers to open the door to a national debate about gun control.

That may give an opening to Obama, who said he hoped the National Rifle Association gun lobby would reflect on the tragedy as it awaits Biden’s recommendations.

“The vast majority of responsible law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war,” Obama said.

Connecticut’s U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator-elect Chris Murphy met on Wednesday evening with a group of about 40 Newtown residents who are pushing for strengthened gun control and calling themselves Newtown United.

Blumenthal said, as he asks people in town if there is anything he can do, they tell him: “Yes. Do something about guns.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Protesters say new Met Opera is anti-Semitic

Protesters, including a former mayor and governor, gathered outside of the Metropolitan Opera on Monday afternoon to protest the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Local

Brooklyn girl's death ruled a homicide

The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a Brooklyn toddler a homicide. Jeida Torres, 3, was found bruised and unresponsive Saturday…

Local

New York City continues to prepare for Ebola…

New York City continues to prepare for the possibility of Ebola. There have been numerous scares, but no confirmed cases. Representatives from about 150 unions…

Local

NYPD nabs alleged serial bank robber

  The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for multiple Manhattan bank robberies this month. Police have arrested a Brooklyn man they…

Entertainment

We the Economy: Morgan Spurlock's new crusade

If Morgan Spurlock gets his way, you won't be able to avoid We the Economy, the series of 20 shorts films curated by the "Super…

Arts

3 Parody plays lampoon your childhood, adulthood and…

Whether you loved the source material or you're going in blind, these parody plays have something for every audience member. We rate three of NYC's hottest satirical shows.

Gossip

Who has more power: Harry Styles or Amal…

Amal Clooney comes in fourth on The Evening Standard's Most Influential Londoners list.

Music

#AskPaul McCartney reveals his love of American pop…

For an Englishman, Paul McCartney's pop culture tastes would fit right in stateside. The former Beatle (@PaulMcCartney) revealed that he has a real thing for…

NFL

John Idzik: 'We did a ton of background'…

Given John Idzik spent the previous five years with the Seahawks before he joined the Jets last January, there is a comfort level for the organization.

NFL

Jets add sizzle to struggling passing game with…

The Jets’ trade for Percy Harvin may have an air of desperation on the surface, but at 1-6 this season is hanging only by a thread.

NFL

Jason Pierre-Paul: 'We've got to regroup' during bye…

“We’ve got to regroup and figure out what went wrong,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “When we come back, we want to be a great team.”

NFL

Breno Giacomini: Media blowing up Golden Tate-Percy Harvin…

According to Breno Giacomini, the fight between Golden Tate and Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week was over by the time the lineman turned around.

Education

Is a 'gap year' after high school for…

It’s a familiar script that millions of students follow each year: Graduate high school and then immediately start college. But more and more students are…

Parenting

New news about Kate Middleton's pregnancy

The Palace released a statement about Kate Middleton's pregnancy.

Parenting

Cool book for kids: 'The Princess In Black'

"The Princess In Black" will change the way girls view princesses.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…