Vigil for Conn. shooting victims sparks gun control debate - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Vigil for Conn. shooting victims sparks gun control debate

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BARNESVILLE, Ga. -

A vigil in Barnesville to remember the Newtown shooting victims sparked debate about gun control on Tuesday.

A crowd gathered in front of Barnesville Library with candles and heavy hearts. The names of the children and adults shot and killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary were read aloud.

However, the mood at the vigil took a turn when the event's organizer, Ellen Granum, slammed the National Rifle Association.

"In order to stop the senseless killing, we must first stop the NRA," Granum said.

At that point, about a dozen people left the vigil, saying they were caught off guard by what they saw as an effort to curb their Second Amendment rights.

"If somebody there would have had a firearm for protection somewhere in that school, we probably would have lost lives, but we wouldn't have lost as many lives," said Tim Mclemore.

Granum defended her speech.

"I don't feel that I politicized it for this reason: if that man had had a pistol that fired one bullet at a time, there might be two or three people dead. It would not be all of these people dead," said Granum.

So what started out as a united front to support the victims ended up dividing some in Barnesville over gun control, part of the national dialogue where there are no easy answers.

"We are so enmeshed in a gun culture in our country that our national government needs to say, ‘let's stop it,'" said Andrew Harnack.

"The focus needs to come off gun control and go into the mental instability of people out there right now. That's where the money needs to be spent," said Carey Fogarty.

The mayor of Barnesville told FOX 5's George Franco that he also thought the prayer vigil was not the right place to bring up gun control, but he said the organizer had every right to do so under the First Amendment. He said that he wished that she had told people ahead of time.

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