Mental health, gun control and school safety are the topics dominating the conversation in Newtown, Connecticut, after 27 were killed there Friday morning.
Anderson Cooper talks with the former Chair of the Newtown Board of Education, Lillian Bittman, about the issues and creating a meaningful dialogue.
"That's what we need to do, is have that civil discourse so that we can find the solutions," says Bittman who participated in an online panel earlier in the day with others who have varying opinions regarding gun control. "We'll never get there if we can't talk to each other."
When Bittman attended the wake for one young victim, Daniel Barden, she received a note from Daniel's sister with the request that Anderson read it on-air. FULL POST
Anderson Cooper honors those who lost their lives in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting.
We remember Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, Olivia Engel, 6, Josephine Gay, 7, Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, Dylan Hockley, 6, Madeline Hsu, 6, Catherine Hubbard, 6, Chase Kowalski, 7, Jesse Lewis, 6, James Mattioli, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7, Emilie Parker, 6, Jack Pinto, 6, Noah Pozner, 6, Caroline Previdi, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, Avielle Richman, 6, Benjamin Wheeler, 6, Allison Wyatt, 6, Rachel Davino, 29, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Lauren Rousseau, 30, Mary Sherlach, 56, Victoria Soto, 27
Grace McDonnell, a 7-year-old student killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, is remembered by her parents. They say it's Grace who is guiding them through these difficult days.
Read more about Grace and the impact she had on others.
Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day.
Dear Mr. President,
The debate over gun control following the Connecticut shootings seems to be growing hotter by the day. While I am often impressed by the passion that people bring to causes, especially when propelled by dramatic and terrible events, I have been hearing a phrase lately which always concerns me. Lawmakers, community leaders, and citizens alike keep saying something along the lines of, “We need to make a change, so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
Understand that I wish, pray, and hope with all my soul that indeed we never see anything like a repeat of this horrible event. But my experience, my knowledge of history, and human nature tells me…sadly…we will, no matter what steps we take to prevent it.
Hear me out. I am not saying that people should not try to make the situation better. A cornerstone of our Democracy is certainly that people ought to engage the legislative process to try to effect change. And real change is possible. I am sure that certain changes to the right laws in the right ways could indeed reduce the likelihood of a similar event happening. And if that were accomplished, who could fault the people who brought such a change to pass? But notice that I said “reduce” not “eliminate.”
That is an important distinction.
I find it distressing that advocates for causes, whether left, right or middle, often oversell. They promise what is unlikely to be delivered, and when that proves out, it promotes the cynicism that makes people feel as if nothing ever really can be done about our problems. By promising too much, they undercut their own arguments; making them look like the fantasies of pie-in-the-sky idealists.
What I wish people would say, no matter what position they espouse, is: “We need to take this step so that we will be moving in the right direction; so that we might make our world a bit safer, a bit better, a bit more as most of us would have it. It will still not be perfect. We will still face awful calamities from time to time. But if we can act together now for our common good, even in a small way, perhaps we will become better at doing such things…and over time our small gains will truly produce the big changes we crave, and these horrid events will grow less and less frequent.”
Hope all is well. Call if you can.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the connection between Asperger's syndrome and planned violence is a myth. The topic has stirred debate since the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
When first-grader Grace McDonnell got on her school bus headed to Sandy Hook Elementary school Friday morning, she looked out the window at her mother and blew kisses to her. That image will always be in the heart of her mother. Sadly, later that morning, Grace was killed at the school, along with 19 other children.
Tonight on 360, Grace’s parents share that beautiful memory of her and so many others. Lynn and Chris McDonnell sat down with Anderson to talk about how Grace touched their lives and the lives of those who knew her.
“Grace had such a great spirit. She had a kind and gentle soul. She was the light and love our family,” Grace’s mom, Lynn, told Anderson. “In so many ways she taught us so much,” she added.
“She taught us you have to live for the future, happiness and peace,” said Grace’s father, Chris. And “not to divert your energy to hate and anger.”
Ray Corbo and Rob Manna have lived in Newtown, Connecticut for their whole lives. Both firefighters, who were first responders to the Sandy Hook school shooting, tell Anderson Cooper about the grief and unity in their town.
They also talk about coping with the experience of setting up a triage unit outside the school before it was discovered there were no injured victims still alive to be treated. "We will recover somewhat, but...the scar's not going to go away," says Corbo.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses research about people with mental illness, the role of medication and how families struggle.
Amardeep Kaleka and Roxanna Green both lost loved ones in a mass shooting. They offer support to victims' families in Newtown, Connecticut.
Beautiful Golden Retrievers traveled from Illinois with Lutheran Church Charities to help comfort and heal the community in Newtown, Connecticut. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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