NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The chiming of bells reverberated throughout Newtown on Friday, commemorating one week since the crackle of gunfire in a schoolhouse killed 20 children and six adults in a massacre that has shaken the community — and the nation — to its core.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gathered with other officials on the steps of the town hall as the bell rang 26 times in memory of each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman also killed his mother before the massacre, and himself afterward.
Officials didn't plan any formal remarks Friday morning, when similar commemorations were planned throughout the country.
Though the massacre does not rank as the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history — that record belongs to Virginia Tech — the tender age of the victims and the absence of any apparent motive has struck at Americans' hearts and minds like no other. The gunman used a military-style assault rifle loaded with ammunition intended to inflict maximum damage, officials have said.
Just a week later, gun control has taken a front burner in Congress, where previous mass shootings produced only minimal legislative reaction. Vice President Joe Biden had said Thursday that the Obama administration would push to tighten gun laws.
The White House has said President Barack Obama would privately observe the moment of silence.
The National Rifle Association will take the spotlight later Friday in its first public event since last week's shooting at a morning news conference. The nation's largest gun-rights lobby with 4.3 million members has said it will offer "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."