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At least eighteen children and eight adults slaughtered at school in Connecticut

Devastating, heartbreaking, horrible news out of New England this morning:

At least 27 people — including 18 children — were killed Friday morning at a local elementary school, marking the deadliest shooting ever in Connecticut and one of the worst ever in the country.

The shooting happened at about 9:40 AM [6:40 AM Pacific Time] at Sandy Hook Elementary School, officials said. Police said one shooter was killed late Friday morning. There were multiple reports early Friday afternoon of a second shooter.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman, said a shooter was dead inside the building. He did not release any details on any of the victims and did not address reports of a second shooter.

The event sent shockwaves throughout the state and the nation and generated a response from the FBI and a statement from the White House. Federal authorities are working with Newtown and state police to coordinate the response.

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy’s office said that state and federal law enforcement personnel were on their way to Newtown to help coordinate the emergency response. The governor’s staff said that President Obama had called the governor to express his deepest condolences and offer federal assistance.

At least two weapons were said to have been recovered, according to media reports. The deceased suspect is thought to be a male in his early twenties, who reportedly came into the school with multiple weapons and body armor.

The President is expected to make a statement at the White House shortly.

The death toll from today’s tragedy already appears to be more than twice as high as the awful 1999 Columbine tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, in which twelve people (most of them high school students) were killed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Our hearts go out to the families whose brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren were senselessly gunned down this morning. They will be in unimaginable pain in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We grieve with them in spirit and pray that they will find the strength to recover from this calamity. There is no worse news a family can receive than to hear a child, parent, or sibling has been gunned down at school.

Proponents of unrestricted gun ownership will say that now is not the time to talk about implementing measures to prevent or avert gun violence. We strongly disagree. We recognize that a tragedy has just taken place, that we do not yet know all of the details about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, that the community there is still in shock, and our thoughts ought to be with the victims.

But the reason there are victims at all is because we have failed as a nation to address both the symptoms and the root causes of gun violence. How many more tragedies must we endure before we decide to act? In the past fifteen years, gunmen have opened fire on innocent people in schools, malls, movie theaters, college campuses, grocery store parking lots, houses of worship, and even an Army base.

Since 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, more than a million people in the United States have been killed by guns. More than a million!

When are we going to decide that enough is enough? When are we going to muster the political will to do something about this problem? What is it going to take? If the murder of nearly two dozen children in an elementary school cannot galvanize us to take action, what will?