Update: Statement from President Obama:
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children – beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.”
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy: “Earlier today, a tragedy of unspeakable terms played itself out in this community. You can never be prepared for this kind of incident. What has happened will leave a mark on this community.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “The people of the state of Connecticut have endured an unspeakable tragedy today. Our hearts go out to the families of each of those victims.”
Update: If I might make a suggestion to everyone trying to politicize this event: there are a lot of innocent people dead right now, a lot of families suffering unspeakable pain and grief, who should know that we’re all thinking of them right now, not trying to fit them like puzzle pieces into arguments that we’ve been having with each other for decades.
Update: Now it’s looking as if the two suspects in the case were brothers, and early reports identified the wrong one as the shooter. This also seems to have been the source of confusion about his precise age. The killer was Adam Lanza, 20; his brother Ryan, 24, is the living suspect currently in police custody, with no charges filed as of yet. They’re now saying four weapons were recovered from the scene, including one .223-caliber rifle. The rifle was said to be recovered from the killer’s vehicle, and may not have been used in the attack.
Further, awful information from the authorities: the children killed in the attack were reportedly between 5 and 10 years old.
There are reports that Lanza’s father is also dead, and his girlfriend is missing.
Update: I’m seeing reports that the killer has been identified as Ryan Lanza of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Conflicting reports say that he was either 20 or 24 years old. His mother was evidently a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and was one of his victims.
Confused reports are still pouring out of Newtown, Connecticut, where a crazed gunman – possibly two gunmen working together – opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Fox News reports “at least 26 people, including 18 children, were killed.” This is apparently in addition to the primary shooter, who is reportedly dead, although it’s not yet clear who killed him.
A law enforcement official said the shooter, who is dead, is believed to be a father of one of the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Authorities recovered a Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, but it was unclear who killed the shooter, who wore black combat garb and a military vest.
An official with knowledge of the situation said the man, described as in his 20’s, had two guns. The motive is not yet known.
Earlier reports of a second gunman are unconfirmed. The Connecticut Post reports that police are also questioning a handcuffed man in connection with the shooting. Witnesses told the newspaper he was led out of the woods by officers.
CNN has a chilling photo of children being led away from the school:
A police briefing with more details is expected later this afternoon. CNN says “President Obama has spoken to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy to get the latest information and express his condolences.”
It looks as if the killer targeted a particular classroom, although not much has yet been released about his likely motives. Of course, attempts to politicize this atrocity for gun control laws began immediately – White House spokesman Jay Carney has already been asked about it by reporters. Connecticut already seems to have fairly solid handgun laws:
Applicants must be at least 21 years old and be a legal resident of the United States. Persons convicted of a felony or any one of 11 misdemeanor offenses detailed in the statute are ineligible to receive a permit. Persons convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense (as defined in section 46b-120); persons discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect (pursuant to section 53a-13); persons confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities (as defined in section 17a-495), within the preceding 12 months by order of a probate court; persons subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person; persons subject to a firearms seizure order issued pursuant to C.G.S. 29-38c after notice and hearing; and any person who is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States, are prohibited from obtaining a pistol permit.
The cost for obtaining a pistol permit is $70.00. The permit is good for a period of five years. The application paperwork may be obtained from a local police department, city or town hall or first selectman’s office in the case of a local permit, or any state police barracks in the case of a state pistol permit.
You are required to complete a handgun safety course, which must consist of no less than the NRA’s “Basic Pistol Course,” prior to submitting the application. The NRA’s “Home Firearms Safety Course” and “First Steps Pistol Orientation Program” are not approved courses.
Live fire is also required. Computer-generated programs, dry-fire, other simulated shooting tools, plastic bullets, air guns or any other alternatives are not acceptable. Students must fire a semi-automatic pistol or revolver. Any questions should be referred to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit.
You will also be required to submit to a background investigation, criminal history check and submit fingerprints and photographs in connection with your application. The licensing statute also contains a ???suitability clause??? which provides that the issuing authority may deny such application, if it determines that the applicant is not a suitable person to possess or carry a pistol or revolver. The suitability clause applies both to the issuance of new permits and revocation of existing permits. Applicants must provide proof you are legally and lawfully in the United States, such as a birth certificate, or U.S. Passport. Legal Alien Residents must provide Alien Registration numbers and 90-day proof of residency. Naturalized citizens require proof of citizenship.
The issuing authority has 8 weeks to review your application and approve or deny. A denial may be appealed to the Board of Firearm Permit Examiners as provide in C.G.S. Section 29-32.
At the time of this writing, we don’t know if the guns used by the Sandy Hook killer were legal. [Update: As more information has been released, it seems the killer drove to Connecticut from New Jersey to perpetrate his crimes. New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.]