In Newtown, an anguished debate over gun rights, controls
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Two days after a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people, several dozen parents and children gathered in a circle at Newtown's public library to draw something positive from the town's sudden, tragic notoriety.
After several hours of anguished discussion about gun control, and of the responsibilities of parents and community members to prevent more bloodshed, Newtown United was born.
A Facebook and Twitter presence is on the way, and the group is already talking about meetings with elected officials and forming alliances with neighboring towns to push for such action as local automatic weapon bans.
"We have the benefit and the misfortune of being on the national stage right now," said Craig Mittleman, a 49-year-old father of four and an emergency physician. "In a week, everybody's going to be gone and Newtown is going to be just like Columbine, just like Virginia Tech. We're going to be on a list of towns victimized by this insanity."
The group's initial discussion took place as the emotional wounds from the massacre were still raw in this community. After 20-year-old Adam Lanza's mother was killed at their home, he drove 5 miles (8 km) to Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot his way in and opened fire on staff and students, leaving 20 first-graders and six adults dead before killing himself.
Still, the purpose of the group is not entirely clear. More direct names like Newtown Against Guns and Act Now Newtown were rejected, and the group is also talking about simpler gestures, like building a memorial for the victims.
In Newtown, where it seems like everyone is connected in some way to Friday's massacre, an anguished debate has broken out: how to protect the rights of responsible gun owners, including hunters, while working to prevent another massacre.
Indeed, in this state with a long history of gun manufacturing but some of the strictest gun laws in the country, some residents say they are not ready to lay down their arms. Newtown itself has an active gun culture, residents say.
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