With an eye on Colorado, Minnesotans remember Sandy Hook

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On Dec. 14, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., a lone gunman broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, 20 of them children.

At St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown Saturday morning, a bell tolled 26 times, as the name of each victim was read over a loudspeaker.

Ryan Knaggs was there. His 7-year-old daughter played soccer with two of the dead children.

"The echo of the bells, knowing some of the children personally, you feel the exactitude with each bell," Knaggs told the Associated Press. "The exactitude of the loss and the grief."

CBS News reported that, in Washington, the president and Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence after lighting 26 votive candles. President Obama's Saturday radio address was a tribute to the families of Newtown and a call for more action to curb gun violence and treat mental illness.

“As a nation, we can’t stop every act of violence. We can’t heal every troubled mind. But if we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we have to keep trying. We have to keep caring. We have to treat every child like they’re our child. Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love. And together, we must make a change.”

The president was clearly disappointed that federal efforts on gun control have largely failed. Bills to expand background checks for gun buyers, reinstate a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and limit the size of ammunition magazines never reached the Senate floor.

CNN was among many news sources that tried to assess what, if anything, has changed in the past year. It concluded that in some places it is easier to buy a gun than it was a year ago, and in some places it is harder.

"States have clearly led where Congress has failed," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He and other activists assembled a report card for all 50 states that gave high marks for reform to California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Bottom scorers are states with high gun death rates and little regulation: Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

KMSP reports the torch is carried in Minnesota by, among others, a group called Mom's Demand Action - MN. The group held a memorial at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Their message: "We stand with you in remembrance for those who were lost one year ago."

"It's devastating, the pain we go through," said one mother who told KAAL she lost her child to gun violence.

Angel Cradle said nothing hurts like a mother's pain, but nothing can stop a mother's determination.

"Moving forward as moms are what we have to do," she said.

The Sandy Hook anniversary comes the day after a shooting at Centennial Arapahoe High School in suburban Denver. USA Today reports a 15-year-old girl is in critical condition. Another student was slightly injured.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson identified the gunman as Karl Halverson Pierson, 18.

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The sheriff said Pierson brought a shotgun and two Molotov cocktails to school Friday afternoon.

The Guardian reports he entered the school from a student parking lot. He told other students he wanted to confront a specific teacher. He made no attempt to conceal the gun. "Word got around immediately," Robinson said.

Police entered the school shortly after initial reports of shots fired were made at 12:33 p.m. local time. Dozens of law enforcement vehicles converged outside the school shortly after the first reports.

Robinson said officers found the shooter’s body in a classroom “quite a ways into the school,” within 20 minutes of the report of the shooting.

"Those [active shooter] protocols, unfortunately, have had to be used far, far, far too many times in the state of Colorado, and across the United States,” Robinson said.

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