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A Deadly Reminder to Be Skeptical of Toy Guns

Posted: 12/14/2012 1:45 pm

Guns have never felt less like toys than throughout this violent, bullet-riddled year. Real guns have rended flesh and stopped hearts -- not just in back alleys and dark parks, but at food fairs, barbecues, movie theatres and, now, an elementary school where 20 children (among 28 total deaths) won't ever have a chance to grow big.

Already, the White House Press Secretary has said "today is not the day" to engage in a policy debate over gun control. But it hardly matters if we all agree that shooting schoolchildren is terrible if we don't do anything to prevent it in the future -- and that is difficult to do in a society that promotes gun culture to even its youngest members.

Throughout all these mass shootings, toymakers have continued to pump out "play" guns of every imaginable size, shape and sound effect, from the AK47 SWAT Team Assault Rifle Machine Gun Toy with Light Scope & Shooting Sounds to the Nerf N-Strike Elite Retaliator Blaster.

Amazon.com boasts over 1200 items in its "toy guns for kids" section while a trip to Toys R Us or Walmart will net you a wide range of Air Zone dart guns, super soakers, and military-inspired Nerf weaponry. Dollar stores offer an even wider selection, complete with old-school cap guns amid their cheap-o toy rifles, handguns, and sci-fi shooters. And then there's the online "superstores" like Toy Arsenal, Buy Toy Guns and Kids Army.

As the parent of a three-year-old boy, toy guns have only recently become an issue. Over the last month or so, he'll sometimes take a stick, make pitchoo sounds and inform us it's "a shooter." He's even tried to build one out of Lego. The boy doesn't even know the word gun, but he wants to play with one, presumably thanks to a preschool playmate.

We always knew we couldn't escape the issue. You know how you'll see one ant, and then suddenly notice that they're everywhere? That's what it's like when you have a toddler--you'll notice suddenly that guns are culturally inescapable, from black-and-white Lone Ranger YouTube videos to brightly coloured superhero cartoons to, sadly, blood-soaked newscasts.

The past year has been so brazenly bullet-riddled, especially this past summer in Toronto, the local public library installed an anti-gun display in their teen book section. But maybe we need to aim the message even younger, since so many people out there seem to be treating real guns with the gravitas of toys.

Raised by hippie parents out west, I grew up in a household where toy guns were verboten. I, of course, simply played with them at friends' houses, or found a stick that was gun-shaped enough to use for a backyard war game or a round of cowboys and Indians. I felt my parents' decision was arbitrary and unfair, especially when I discovered my dad had kept my confiscated water gun for use as a prop in his acting class rather than disposing of it. I just wanted to play with the other kids. It was fun.

So are toy guns really that bad? There are plenty of studies linking fake guns to real aggression, but I find them flawed -- perhaps aggressive kids like to play with toy guns, as opposed to toy guns inspiring kids to act aggressively. And I've played videogames most of my life, including ultraviolent shooters, and am not at all a violent sort. If I decried the critics who tried to blame Columbine on Doom, why should I be so opposed to analog gunplay?

But those games are rated mature for 17 and older gamers, while toy guns are intended for young kids. That's what upsets me -- a feeling that increases with every shooting report from Scarborough, Ontario to Aurora, Colorado to Newtown, Connecticut -- because toy guns are the starting point for a culture that treats actual deadly weapons as playthings.

The anti-political correctness crowd will shout that boys-will-be-boys, even suggesting "the next time that a child tears around the backyard 'killing' all the bad guys and tearing off their heads, we recommend that his or her parent smile and compliment their child's ability to take care of the bad guys." Canada's own Toyland Company absurdly argues "a ban on toy guns can actually stunt children's development and cause increased violence and rule-breaking."

I actually have no inherent problem with violence-tinged role-play. Children see things as black and white, good and evil, and having these two forces battle it out is an innate part of being a kid trying to make sense of the world. They're just pretending, and conflict is an intrinsic part of storytelling. My Autobots and Decepticons didn't exactly have tea parties, my favourite comic was Secret Wars, and when we played Knights of the Round Table, somebody always got pretend-skewered.

But there's something different about gunplay. Perhaps it's because transforming robots and Marvel superheroes are obviously fantastical and a sword is a relic of a bygone era, thus easily differentiating the real and the imagined. But guns, well, there are 87 gun deaths in America every single day and in Toronto alone 2012 has seen 32 gun deaths and 114 gun-related injuries.

My son Emile's natural disposition is sweet. He doesn't start fights in daycare and when he imagined that monsters were invading Pirate Forest (a.k.a. the pathway between our house and our neighbour's), his plan of action was to hug them. But he's still a boy. And most boys like to play with guns. He starting to, as well. But not at our house.

I choose not to be the one ushering my son into a gun culture that treats such real-world murderous weapons as playthings. There are plenty of other toys that can fill our toybox that don't co-star on the nightly news after yet another mass shooting.

Being a parent is a lot of responsibility and when you introduce something into the house, you are giving it your stamp of approval. I don't approve of guns, and therefore won't be buying them for an impressionable small child. I can't control if he plays with guns elsewhere, but that is irrelevant. When he's a teenager he'll also drink beer, but that doesn't mean I should be buying him six-packs.

Growing up in a gun-free house ultimately taught me to think about guns, war and violence in a more profound way. That's something that has stuck with me, and which I choose to pass onward. So if he plays with a gun at a friend's, he'll still be thinking about why he can't play with guns at home.

Look. I don't believe that toy guns turn kids into killers, but I do think that we as a society should be treating guns with more seriousness. I'm not suggesting a ban, but not buying them is a powerful statement.

Already, the number of toy guns in major chains is less (and the designs less realistic) than when I was a kid -- and perhaps events like Newtown will help convince more parents that toy guns aren't the most appropriate playthings to put under the tree. Maybe, one day, the whole idea of toy guns will be viewed with the same "you-sold-these-to-kids?!?" dropped-jaw disbelief as bubble pipes and candy cigarettes.

*An older version of this story ran in the Grid on July 27, 2012.

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  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows the Newtown Tehcnology Team ID of Adam Lanza in the bathroom at the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows ammunition infrot of a gun safe in the south east bedroom (shooters room) at the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a Bushmaster rifle in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows firearms and ammunition found on or in close proximity to shooters body at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Pro Gun Control Group Hold Memorial On Anniversary Of Sandy Hook School Shooting

    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Shundra Robinson holds a picture of her son Deno Wooldridge, 18, while speaking at a gathering of gun violence victims and gun control advocates at Cornell Square Park on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting December 14, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Thirteen people, including a three-year-old boy, were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a crowd gathered at the basketball courts in Cornell Square Park in September. Twenty children and 6 adults were killed when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook School. Wooldridge was shot and killed while standing on his grandmother's porch on October 18, 2010. More than 400 people have been murdered in Chicago so far this year, most by gunfire. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a rifle in the master bedroom in the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a Glock 20, 10mm found near the shooter in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows firearms and ammunition found on or in close proximity to shooters body at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Twenty-seven small U.S. flags adorn a large flag on a makeshift memorial on the side of Highway 84 near the Newtown, Conn., town line as residents mourn victims killed by gunman Adam Lanza, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. On Friday, authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, a message honoring the victims that died a day earlier when a gunman opened fire at an elementary hang from a bridge near Hawley Pond, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Mourners carry ornaments to decorate the Christmas trees at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Crayons sit on a table outside of a barbershop a day after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Crayons sit on a table outside of a barbershop a day after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Tamara Doherty

    Shop owner Tamara Doherty, paces outside her store just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Tamara Doherty, Jackie Gaudet

    Shop owners Tamara Doherty, left, and Jackie Gaudet, right, meet outside their stores for the first time since being neighbors, just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Kristin Hoyt

    Kristin Hoyt, 18, of Danbury, Conn., ties a balloon to an overpass up the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • A Newtown, Conn., resident, who declined to give her name, sits at an intersection holding a sign for passing motorists up the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • A snowflake ornament with the name of 6-year-old Noah Pozner hangs on a Christmas tree at a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, as the town mourns victims killed in Friday's school shooting. Pozner, who was killed Friday when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, will be buried Monday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Twenty-seven small U.S. flags adorn a large flag on a makeshift memorial on the side of Highway 84 near the Newtown, Conn., town line as residents mourn victims killed by gunman Adam Lanza, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life, on Friday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Jamie Duncan, 16, of Newtown, Conn., lights a candle at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A mourner carries a giant Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal to place at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A hearse arrives at B'nai Israel Cemetery with the body of Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in an elementary school shooting, during funeral services, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • People arrive at B'nai Israel Cemetery during burial services for Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Veronika Pozner

    Veronique Pozner waves to the assembled media as she leaves after a funeral service for her 6-year-old son Noah Pozner, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Fairfield, Conn. Noah Pozner was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Twenty seven wooden stand in a yard down the street from the Sandy Hook School December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza, found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Newtown residents Claire Swanson, Kate Suba, Jaden Albrecht, Simran Chand and New London, Connecticut residents Rachel Pullen and her son Landon DeCecco, hold candles at a memorial for victims on the first Sunday following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    U.S. President Barack Obama waits to speak at an interfaith vigil for the shooting victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Eknoor Kaur, 3, stands with her father Guramril Singh during a candlelight vigil outside Newtown High School before an interfaith vigil with President Barack Obama, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    New London, Connecticut resident Rachel Pullen (C) kisses her son Landon DeCecco at a memorial for victims near the school on the first Sunday following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    US President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and began a shooting spree. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A woman covers her face as US President Barack Obama reads out the names of children killed during Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at a interfaith memorial for victims and relatives at the Newtown High School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and began a shooting spree. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A woman pays respects at a memorial outside of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. On Friday, a gunman allegedly killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents wait for the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Cheryl Girardi, of Middletown, Conn., kneels beside 26 teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a sidewalk memorial, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children.(AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Connecticut State Police officers respond to a bomb threat outside of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Worshippers hurriedly left the church Sunday, not far from where a gunman opened fire Friday inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Ava Staiti, 7, of New Milford, Conn., looks up at her mother Emily Staiti, not pictured, while visiting a sidewalk memorial with 26 teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This photo provided by the family shows Jessica Rekos. Rekos, 6, was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Rekos Family)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A U.S. flag flies at half staff outside the Newtown High School before President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    David Freedman, right, kneels with his son Zachary, 9, both of Newtown, Conn., as they visit a sidewalk memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A man reacts at the site of a makeshift memorial for school shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. A gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town, killing 26 people, including 20 children before killing himself on Friday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    People wait in line to attend an interfaith vigil with President Barack Obama, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into the school Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. President Barack Obama is to scheduled to speak at the event. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into the elementary school Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak during the vigil. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This image provided by the family shows Grace McDonnell posing for a portrait in this family photo taken Aug. 18, 2012. Grace McDonnell was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the McDonnell Family)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This Nov. 18, 2012 photo provided by John Engel shows Olivia Engel, 6, in Danbury, Conn. Olivia Engel, was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Engel Family, Tim Nosezo)

  • Emilie Alice Parker

    This 2012 photo provided by the family shows Emilie Alice Parker. Parker was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Parker Family)

  • Noah Pozner

    This Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the family via The Washington Post shows Noah Pozner. The six-year-old was one of the victims in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Family Photo)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This handout image provided by ABC News, shows Nancy J. Lanza mother of suspected mass shooter Adam Lanza at an unspecified time and place. Twenty six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza was found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Family of Nancy Lanza / ABC News / Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121215/us-school-shooting-victims/?utm_hp_ref=homepage&ir=homepage">Lauren Rousseau, 30,</a> had started a job as a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School this fall. She was killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at the school.

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, was killed during an attempt to stop gunman Adam Lanza during the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121215/us-school-shooting-victims/?utm_hp_ref=homepage&ir=homepage">Sherlach and school principal Dawn Hochsprung</a> reportedly both lunged at Lanza in an attempt to protect the school's students and teachers. Both Sherlach and Hochsprung were killed.

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