Gun lobby feels first backlash in wake of Sandy Hook massacre

CHILDREN in the shell-shocked community of Newtown in Connecticut have returned to school for the first time since the massacre which killed 20 youngsters and six teachers.

More funerals of the victims took place yesterday and will continue throughout the week in the wake of the atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School which will remain closed indefinitely.

The powerful US gun lobby has felt the first backlash from the killings when a leading private equity group decided to sell its stake in the company that made the killer’s assault rifle.

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Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15, a civilian version of the military’s M-16.

Cerberus Capital Management said it would sell its stake in Bushmaster, calling Friday’s attack a watershed event in the national debate on gun control.

Cerberus attempted to distance its move from the debate. “We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,” it said.

Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the US under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.

A White House spokesman said curbing gun violence was a complex problem that required a “comprehensive solution”. He did not mention specific proposals to follow up on President Barack Obama’s call for “meaningful action”.

New York’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg has again pressed Mr Obama and Congress to toughen gun laws and tighten enforcement. “If this doesn’t do it what is going to?” he said. At least one senator, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said that the attack led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons.

An 11-year-old boy caught with a gun at school told staff he brought it to defend himself in case of an attack similar to the Connecticut massacre. An unloaded gun and ammunition were found in the boy’s backpack at West Kearns Elementary School in Utah.

Guns alone don’t explain murder rate: Page 13.