Church bells tolled throughout Connecticut this weekend, 26 times to commemorate the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown where 20 first graders and six teachers were shot and killed two years ago by a mentally-ill gunman, who also killed his mother and himself. Adam Lanza, 20, walked into the school armed with a Bushmaster AR-15 and started indiscriminately shooting. Most of the victims were in a single classroom.
As the two-year anniversary approached, so did the deadline for the families of the victims to file lawsuits to collect damages. At least 11 families have filed notice of intent to sue for wrongful death, the Hartford Courant reported. The Associated Press said it was unclear who would be sued and no suits had yet been filed.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, there have been at least 94 shootings, some fatal, at elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities in 33 states, a report released last week by Everytown for Gun Safety found. Though the Sandy Hook massacre generated much discussion about gun control, little action has been taken nationally to restrict access by those who should not possess weapons.
"It's astounding," Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told the Connecticut Post. "There is no other developed country that would tolerate this kind of gun violence around school-age children."
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has taken to the Senate floor monthly since the tragedy to flog the record of gun violence, CNN reported.
"There's no more personal issue than gun violence; every one of these stories is a life lost," he said. "I'm hoping that over the long term, as I tell these stories, that it will help to open people's eyes."
No public commemorations were planned in Newtown, but churches picked up the slack.
The Rev. Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church described the weekend observances as respectful. "There is a fine line on this journey," Crebbin, the church's senior pastor and head of Newtown's interfaith clergy association, told the Connecticut Post. "We don't want to ignore it because then there's a danger, particularly for our young people, that this is the thing that can't be named, that people are afraid to talk about it."
Memorials actually began last week. The Rev. Roberta Finkelstein of Westport Unitarian Church in Westport led a memorial Thursday during which she said the gathering was a chance to "remember and to grieve" as well as "call attention to the impact of gun violence in our communities," the Norwalk Daily Voice reported.
After the Newtown shootings, National Rifle Association head Wayne Lapierre famously argued that the only way to stop gun violence would be to arm more good guys. The NRA, in fact, has reversed a position it held a decade ago in favor of background checks for would-be gunowners.
Since the tragedy, many families have been working to curb gun violence and improve mental health treatment, the Associated Press reported. Plans for a permanent memorial to those killed were moving forward, Reuters reported.