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May 2nd, 2013
10:09 AM ET

Newtown victim's daughter on challenging Sen. Ayotte: 'I just want to make my mom a human to them'

Erin Lafferty lost her mother Dawn Hochsprung on Dec. 14th in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Hochsprung was the principal and she died trying to protect her students. In her memory, Erica has fought for gun reform.

At a town hall event Tuesday, Erica confronted Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) who voted against a recent gun control measure. She questioned why the Senator believes background checks are a burden on gun owners.

"I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school is not as important," Erin asks Sen. Ayotte.

The senator went on to explain she thinks the problem lies in the mental health reform, but that wasn't good enough for Erica. She joins John and Christine on "Starting Point" to explain how she is keeping the memory of her mother alive through her work on gun control.

February 20th, 2013
11:28 AM ET

PBS documentary sheds new light on Newtown shooter Adam Lanza – Producer Frank Koughan explains

A new PBS documentary is shedding light Adam Lanza, the man behind the horrific shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Frank Koughan, writer and producer of "Raising Adam Lanza," talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning to talk about what he learned from interviews with family and friend, and shares some of the biggest revelations of Lanza's life.

Filed under: Crime • Lanza • Newtown • Sandy Hook • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 14th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Fmr. Rep. Mack: Problems we're seeing in Washington is because there's no trust

One month ago today, a gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

As a result of that tragedy, the White House put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of a commission to find ways to stop gun violence. On Tuesday, Biden is expected to deliver recommendations from his task force to President Barack Obama.

But the biggest question is whether lawmakers will be able to come together to pass any of the recommendations from the Vice President's office.

This morning former Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) joins “Starting Point” to discuss the latest on gun politics.

Filed under: Newtown • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 14th, 2013
11:47 AM ET

Families gather to support Newtown residents on one month anniversary after Sandy Hook Elementary shooting

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force is expected to make its recommendations to President Barack Obama. This will come a day after the one month mark after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT.

Today, a group of Newtown residents called "Sandy Hook Promise" plan to unveil a national grass-roots initiative to reduce gun violence. The group will be joined by families of victims and survivors of other shootings.

This includes the parents of Christina-Taylor Green who was killed while attending Fmr. Congresswoman Gabby Gifford's "Congress on Your Corner" event. Her mother Roxanna Green started a foundation to honor her daughter's memory and has also done some work with the group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”

This morning, Green joins “Starting Point” to discuss the one-month marking of the Newtown shooting and what can be done to reduce gun violence.

Filed under: Gun violence • Newtown • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 14th, 2013
11:43 AM ET

CT Sen. Murphy: NRA 'fundamentally out of step' with Americans, Newtown will never be the same

It has been exactly one-month since the massacre in Newtown, CT where 20 children and six adults were gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary school. The fate of the school building itself is a delicate subject which was debated at a public forum last night.

The shooting has also sparked a national debate over guns and gun violence, with Vice President Joe Biden vowing to deliver recommendations by Tuesday to President Obama on curbing gun violence. Newtown was part of the district of then Congressman Chris Murphy.

This morning, Murphy, a newly-elected Connecticut Democratic Senator joins “Starting Point” to explain how Newtown residents are coping since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He also explains why he thinks the National Rifle Association is out of step with American opinion on guns.

Filed under: Newtown • Sandy Hook • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 14th, 2013
11:41 AM ET

VA Tech, Tucson shooting survivors support Newtown residents in 'Sandy Hook Promise' initiative to reduce gun violence

Vice President Joe Biden will meet with members of the House of Representatives as part of the task force he is heading up on reducing gun violence. The task force is expected to make its recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, a day after the one month mark of the Newtown School Shooting.

Today a group of Newtown residents called "Sandy Hook Promise" plan to unveil a national grass-roots initiative to reduce gun violence. The group will be joined by families of victims and survivors of other shootings including Colin Goddard and Pam Simon.

Goddard, who was shot during the Virginia Tech massacre, now works for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Simon was shot during the "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson, Arizona and is involved with "Demand a Plan," a gun reform advocacy group.

Goddard and Simon join “Starting Point” this morning to discuss their plan for curbing gun violence.

Filed under: Newtown • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 14th, 2013
06:32 AM ET

Newtown one month later: Searching for healing, answers while the investigation continues

EDITOR'S NOTE: Soledad reports from Newtown, CT on Monday, Jan. 14th, to report on how residents are coping one month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Starting Point 7aET.

From CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt

One month after the Sandy Hook tragedy, investigators remain hard at work analyzing evidence and looking for a possible motive.

It will be May at the earliest before a final report is complete, according to police.

Adam Lanza was wearing ear plugs when he shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary last December 14th.

"We have no idea why," Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told CNN. Investigators may never know, he added.

Shooters at gun ranges often wear ear protection to muffle noise. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the shooter and his mother did target shooting at gun ranges over the course of several years and went to at least one range together. Lanza fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home before he went to the school that day.

Vance also confirmed the shooter used "several" high capacity magazines, each carrying 30-rounds during the course of the mass murder. Each magazine for the AR-15 style semi-automatic made by Bushmaster was only partially used. Vance says the killer reloaded time and again. Investigators have been working to determine whether the gun jammed or whether Lanza had another reason to reload repeatedly.

Investigators would not say how many bullets were fired or exactly how many magazines were used.

About a week ago, authorities returned control of Sandy Hook Elementary school to Newtown. A barricade prevents outside traffic from driving past the school.

It remains shuttered.

Vance told CNN the shooter's home also is no longer an active crime scene.

Filed under: Newtown • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 3rd, 2013
11:27 AM ET

Clinical Psychologist Julian Ford weighs in on Sandy Hook Elementary students returning to school

For the first time since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School Sandy Hook students will be returning to class on Thursday. Hundreds of students who attended the school in Newtown are expected to travel to Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe. The new facility is about seven miles from the original Sandy Hook school has been renamed as Sandy Hook Elementary and transformed to resemble an elementary school. Also, the new school has been outfitted with rugs and furniture similar to those from the old school and student desks and classroom decorations have been transported to the new location including the school's pet turtle. Clinical psychologist Julian Ford has worked to train mental health professionals in Newtown and this morning he weighs in on the Sandy Hook students returning to school.

When helping the children and parents of Sandy Hook feel comfortable with the return to school Ford says the most important thing for people “is knowing that past is not prologue.” He adds, “what’s happened is a terrible tragedy but now the community, the children and the families get to begin back on the path that they were on.” Ford goes on to say, “Even though nothing will be quite the same it’s wonderful that they have a chance to go back to a school where so much is familiar.”

Ford says the parents of the returning students should be calm and confident and even though they feel the impact they should know the children going back to school is the right thing to do. He adds that adults tend to associate objects from the past with a “replay of what’s happened and expecting that things like that will happen again in the future even though there isn’t that much of a likelihood.” Ford says children on the other hand are “really focused on the present moment so they go back into the classrooms and see the familiar objects and the desks very similar – for them it’s going to signify ‘ok I’m back in school...this isn’t Chalk Hill, this is Sandy Hook…I’m back with my friends, I’m back with my teachers.’” He says that resolve is what the children “need in order to have the sense of security to go back and dive right back in.”

Filed under: Sandy Hook • Sandy Hook Elementary
January 3rd, 2013
08:51 AM ET

Sandy Hook Elementary students return to school today; Virginia Tech victim’s mother Lori Haas relates: 'ups and downs in the recovery'

This morning, the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut return to school for the first time since a gunman took 20 of their friends, and their innocence. Their new school building is a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. School staff and volunteers have been working to re-create as much of the original classrooms as possible. The surviving teachers decided to rename the new school "Sandy Hook Elementary."

“Starting Point” speaks to a mother who can explain what it's like for parents and students returning to school after such a tragedy. She has also sent her child back to school after a mass shooting tragedy. Lori Haas's daughter Emily was shot twice but survived during the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting. Lori is now the Virginia organizer for the Coalition to End Gun Violence.

Lori reflects on the road to recovery Emily has faced. “It’s been a journey. There’s no denying that,” she says. “There’s ups and downs in the recovery, in the aftermath of a mass shooting. There's times when you have to deal with your post traumatic stress disorder and it may flare up at different times, it may recede at different times.”

Emily has since finished her degree, gotten married and is teaching school herself. Her mother says she and “the injured students stuck together quite a bit and were helpful to each other, and spent time together and a lot of time together, frankly, at the school, so that was a good for her.”

January 2nd, 2013
10:05 AM ET

Lawyer Irving Pinsky explains why he withdrew his Sandy Hook lawsuit petition following Newtown shooting

An attorney in Connecticut has withdrawn a request to sue the state for $100 million in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting after facing strong disapproval from people across the country. The New Haven attorney represents the family of a six-year-old girl who witnessed and survived the shooting. The lawyer says the state failed to take steps to protect the children from harm. After this statement Pinsky received a flurry of comments on his Facebook page blasting the lawsuit and accusing him and his client of trying to profit from last month's tragedy. This morning the attorney Irving Pinsky joins “Starting Point” to discuss why he dropped the suit and his plans to file again sometime within the year.

Regarding the outpour of disapproval on filing the lawsuit Pinsky says, “It’s a natural reaction to get that backlash.” He adds that he was doing his job which is to save the evidence and that he “can’t wait for the attorney general to get their evidence or the police to get their evidence. As a lawyer I’m looking for different evidence then they are. So I had to go in early and that was not made clear to the public because there’s so much of the fog of disaster.” On the topic of where the backlash was stemming from Pinsky says, “I didn’t have any problem with the people of Newtown… but out of 340 million people in this country if that you’re going to have all kinds of people including some crazy people who are going to start issuing death threats left and right” and labeling him a “greedy lawyer.”

Legally Pinsky says “this shouldn’t happen. A crazy young gunman shouldn’t be able to walk into a school and start doing this over and over and over.” While it has been reported that the shooter shot through the glass to gain entry to the school, Pinksy argues the glass was supposed to be bulletproof. Pinksy adds, “It had to be assumed that this was going to happen eventually somewhere.” He goes on to say, “I cannot tell you for sure at this point…I cannot tell you beyond a reasonable doubt…that this would have happened or should have happened or they should have known.” He says regardless his job is to follow the evidence, “authenticate it, make sure it credible…and if the evidence shows that there’s no case – I don’t bring a case.”

Pinsky says his mission now is to “stop this from happening again,” although he says it is going to happen again even though he does not want to admit it. He says his lawsuit aids the process to “get higher standards for security in the schools.”

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence • Guns • Sandy Hook • Sandy Hook Elementary
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