By Sarah Yañez-Richards
Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Dec 14 (EFE).- The village of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, has the idyllic quality of a postcard, with snow now covering the rooftops of houses and lampposts decorated in Christmas red and green.
But it was the scene of an unthinkable tragedy a decade ago, when 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people inside, the vast majority of them children between the ages of six and seven.
Eugene Rosen, an 80-year-old resident of that village in the northeastern US town of Newtown, clearly remembers that fateful Dec. 14, 2012. He heard the gunshots but never once thought that a mass murder was taking place.
“I saw these kids on my front lawn, six kids … I walked down there, the kids were very quiet,” he recalled.
When he found out a school shooting had occurred, he invited them inside his house and began talking to them.
One of the children told him the shooter had one large gun and another smaller one.
Lanza began his rampage by killing his mother, a gun enthusiast, before driving to the school with three semi-automatic firearms in his possession.
After blasting his way inside, the perpetrator killed six school personnel, including 47-year-old school principal Dawn Hochsprung, and 20 students, all of them either six or seven years old. Lanza then committed suicide, shooting himself in the head as first responders were arriving at the scene.
The building where the mass shooting occurred was demolished a few months afterward, and a new school was erected in its place.
One month ago, a memorial honoring the victims of the mass shooting was opened to the public.
Located six kilometers (3.7 miles) from the school, it consists of a network of paths leading to its centerpiece – a fountain featuring a granite basin engraved with the names of the 26 victims and a young London plane tree on an island surrounded by gently swirling water.
Upon touring the memorial for the first time, Po Murray, co-founder and chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots gun violence prevention group, looked on teary-eyed.
“It’s a sad reminder of what happened. And still, so many other communities are being impacted by similar tragedies. And it’s a shame,” said the activist, whose children attended Sandy Hook Elementary School years before the mass shooting occurred.
She said she never imagined that an incident of that magnitude could occur in such a tranquil village.
“We knew instantly that if it could happen here, in our community, then it could happen anywhere. And sadly, it has,” Murray said.
“More and more Americans are being impacted by gun violence than ever before. Over 1 million Americans have been shot since Sandy Hook, and over 400,000 Americans have been killed by guns since the Sandy Hook tragedy,” she told Efe.
The Newtown Action Alliance not only is seeking stricter gun-control legislation in the United States but also is aiming to effect a shift in the attitudes of Americans, millions of whom hold their constitutional Second Amendment right to bear arms as sacrosanct.
“Ultimately, the gun lobby has convinced Americans that guns make us safer. But we live in a nation with 400 million guns, and it’s clearly not the case,” Murray said. “It’s time for Congress to pass bold, transformative policies to start reducing gun deaths and injuries in this country.”
In February of this year, the families of nine victims of the mass shooting reached a $73 million settlement of a lawsuit against Remington, maker of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack.