THE UNITED STATES will today mark the one year anniversary of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut which left 26 people – including 20 children – dead.
Hundreds of people gathered at a vigil in the National Cathedral in Washington DC on Thursday evening to mark the anniversary and to call for tougher action to halt gun violence in the United States. Around 32,000 people have died in the US in gun-related incidents in the 12 months since the school shooting at Newtown.
US president Barack Obama is to hold a moment of silence at the White House to remember the victims.
President Obama tried to introduce a new law on background checks on people buying guns in the wake of the killing but was stymied by the US Senate.
“On Saturday, December 14, the president and first lady will honor the lives and legacies of the children and educators lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School one year ago by observing a moment of silence at the White House,” a White House spokesperson said.
Parents and friends of the victims have asked the media to stay away from Newtown today to allow it to mourn in peace.
The Sandy Hook shooting was the second-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in the US, after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 in which 33 people died.
A motive for the Newtown attack was never uncovered.
Twenty-year-old gunman Adam Lanza shot himself at the school as police arrived on the scene.
An investigation by the Connecticut state prosecutor published last month found that Lanza was obsessed with the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 in which 15 people died, but could find no specific reason why he decided to carry out the killings at Sandy Hook.
Lanza shot and killed his mother at their home before he drove to the school where he began shooting, firing 154 rounds from a Bushmaster .223-calibre rifle and killing all 26 people in less than five minutes.
The report noted that Lanza had “significant mental health issues” but displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies.
Family members of victims of gun violence at a vigil at the National Cathedral in Washington on Thursday. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Additional reporting by AFP