Robinson said that she did not know whether the schools would continue to station armed guards at school over the long term. But the school superintendent said an idea to place guns in the hands of teachers who have little weapons training is “not even logical.”
“How many children could get injured with inexperienced elementary teachers walking around with guns?” she asked. The broader challenge, she said, is: “How do I protect our students without creating fortresses?”
In an effort to find common cause, Lee Shull, 45, Rob Cox and several other Newtown residents have founded a local nonprofit group, Sandy Hook Promise, to help the community work on preventing future gun tragedies. Shull said many in the community are still reeling from the pain and struggling to translate their grief into action.
“The reactions are all over the place; there’s anger, there’s fear,” said Lee.
The group, which includes parents and friends of Sandy Hook students and Democrats, Republicans, independents and gun owners, welcomed “the broad focus” of Obama’s plans. But the group has stopped short of taking a firm stance on gun control, in part out of concern that it could lead to a polarizing debate.
Instead, it is working on educating its members on the basics of gun law, the constitutional protections, responsible gun use and mental health issues.
Shull said that he had invited a Yale University constitutional law professor to give the group’s members a crash course on the Second Amendment. He also has consulted a police officer from Upstate New York on safe gun use.
Shull said the group doesn’t want to “jump in and polarize people with a position,” at least not yet. “We want to bring people together for an open and honest discussion to really listen to one another. This is not just about what the government can do. Everybody should feel a responsibility and obligation to decide ‘what can I do, what can you do, what can we do collectively to make our nation a safer place.’ ”
Fitzgerald said the group has its work cut out.
He recalled that in September, the Newtown legislative council sought to push through an ordinance to ban target shooting on private property without the permission of the town’s police chief. The ordinance, which faced intense opposition from local gun enthusiasts, was shelved.
“If we can’t have an ordinance passed [locally], you have to ask yourself,” he said, “what are we really going to be able to do on a national level with regard to making things safe?”