Washington, Dec 14: As America prepared to mark the first anniversary Saturday of the “massacre of the innocents” at an elementary school, a student opened fire inside a Colorado high school rekindling an angry debate over gun violence.
The student brought a shotgun into the school and asked for a specific teacher by name, but ended up shooting a fellow student and, apparently, himself, according to the police.
Friday’s shooting occurred about 10 miles from where two people killed 12 students and one teacher in a rampage at Columbine High School in April 1999 before killing themselves, according to CNN.
According to an analysis by The Washington Post 91 children were killed by deliberate gunfire in 2012, including 20 first grade students who were killed with 6 adults at the Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut.
“The Newtown killings horrified the country and provoked angry debates over access to the most lethal firearms. A year later, the anger and grief caused by the deaths continue to be felt,” the influential US daily said.
“Taken together, the killings reflect some of the country’s most unyielding problems,” it said noting “mental illness, so central to the Newtown killings, also played a role in more than half of the other 71.”
“Stray bullets from neighbourhood gun battles or drive-by shootings killed 22 children. Drugs, typically methamphetamine, were a factor in six others.”
“Perhaps most striking was how many of the children knew their killers,” the Post said noting “Seventeen were shot by their mothers, according to police; another 17 by their fathers.”
The White House will hold a moment of silence Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“To mark the anniversary of that senseless tragedy, President (Barack) Obama will honour those lost at Sandy Hook with a moment of silence,” the White House said asking the people to join.
A Sikh prayer opened a national vigil against gun violence at the National Cathedral Friday on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown.
Hundreds of people lit candles as the lights were dimmed as a song written by Newtown music teacher Jim Allyn was performed by an all-female World Children’s Choir.
After church bells rang for three minutes to honour 30,000 people killed by guns last year, a series of Jewish, Sikh and Christian faith leaders prayed for an end to the violence.
Obama’s attempt to outlaw semi-automatic rifles and expand background checks for gun-buyers has failed to make any headway in the face of stiff opposition from the powerful National Rifle Association and other gun groups.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)