2 funerals begin a sad procession in Connecticut

By Allen G. Breed and Helen O'Neil

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 9:55 p.m. MST

"If people want to go hunting, a single-shot rifle does the job, and that does the job to protect your home, too. If you need more than that, I don't know what to say," Ray DiStephan said outside Noah's funeral.

He added: "I don't want to see my kids go to schools that become maximum-security fortresses. That's not the world I want to live in, and that's not the world I want to raise them in."

Around the country, school systems asked police departments to increase patrols Monday and sent messages to parents outlining safety procedures. Teachers steeled themselves for their students' questions and fears.

Richard Cantlupe, an American history teacher at Westglades Middle School in Parkland, Fla., described the Connecticut rampage as "our 9/11 for schoolteachers."

Anxiety ran high enough in Ridgefield, Conn., about 20 miles from Newtown, that officials ordered a lockdown at schools after a person deemed suspicious was seen at a train station. Two schools were locked down in South Burlington, Vt., because of an unspecified threat.

Three schools in the Tampa, Fla., area did the same after a bullet was found on the floor of a school bus, and a New Hampshire high school went into emergency mode after an administrator heard a loud bang. A police search found nothing suspicious.

Meanwhile, the outlines of a national debate on gun control began to take shape. At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a "comprehensive solution."

Carney did not offer specific proposals or a timeline. He said President Barack Obama will meet with law enforcement officials and mental health professionals in coming weeks.

Lanza is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military's M-16. It is similar to the weapon used in a recent shopping mall shooting in Oregon and other deadly attacks around the U.S. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in this country under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.

At least one senator, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, said Monday that the attack in Newtown has led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, said it is time to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.

He added: "This is bigger than just about guns. It's about how we treat people with mental illness, how we intervene, how we get them the care they need, how we protect our schools. It's just so sad."

Authorities say Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home and then took her car and some of her guns to the school, where he broke in and opened fire. A Connecticut official said the mother, a gun enthusiast who practiced at shooting ranges, was found dead in her pajamas in bed, shot four times in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.

Lanza was wearing all black, with an olive-drag utility vest with lots of pockets, during the attack.

Investigators have found no letters or diaries that could explain the rampage.

Debora Seifert, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said both Lanza and his mother fired at shooting ranges, and also visited ranges together. "We do not have any indication at this time that the shooter engaged in shooting activities in the past six months," Seifert told the AP.

In Newtown, classes were canceled Monday, and the town's other schools were to reopen Tuesday. The district made plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe.

Sandy Hook desks are being taken to the Chalk Hill school in Monroe, empty since town schools consolidated last year, and tradesmen are donating their services to get the school ready within a matter of days.

"These are innocent children that need to be put on the right path again," Monroe police Lt. Brian McCauley said.

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