Most children in Newtown returned to school for the first time Tuesday, as the toll of funerals for the 26 dead continued on a grey, wet day. The national debate on gun control sharpened as a prominent private equity firm said it would sell the largest firearms manufacturer in the country, which makes the rifle thought to have been used in Friday's rampage.
A hearse arrived at a Catholic church carrying the casket of 6-year-old James Mattioli, one of the 20 young students killed. At least one other funeral was planned — for 6-year-old Jessica Rekos — as well as several wakes, including one for teacher Victoria Soto, who has been praised as a hero for sacrificing herself to save several students in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Security remained high, and the small, affluent Connecticut community was still on edge as the rest of the country prepared for the Christmas holidays.
"There's going to be no joy in school," said 17-year-old P.J. Hickey. "It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore." But he added, "This is where I feel the most at home. I feel safer here than anywhere else in the world."
In a sign of investors distancing themselves from gun makers, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell its stake in arms manufacturer Freedom Group. It said in a statement, "It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level."
The mystery of why a smart but severely withdrawn 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, shot his mother to death in bed before rampaging through Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children ages 6 and 7, was as deep as ever.
Sandy Hook Elementary will remain closed indefinitely.
Investigators say Lanza had no ties to the school he attacked, and they have found no letters or diaries that could explain why he targeted it. He forced into the school shortly after its front door locked as part of a new security measure. He wore all black and is believed to have used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the military's M-16. Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the U.S. under the 1994 assault weapons ban, but the law expired in 2004.
Debora Seifert, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said both Lanza and his mother fired at shooting ranges and visited ranges together.
At the White House on Monday, spokesman Jay Carney said curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a "comprehensive solution." He did not mention specific proposals to follow up on President Barack Obama's call for "meaningful action."
New York City's billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, perhaps the most outspoken advocate for gun control in U.S. politics, again pressed Obama and Congress to toughen gun laws and tighten enforcement.
"If this doesn't do it," he asked, "what is going to?"
At least one senator, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said Monday that the attack has led him to rethink his opposition to the ban on assault weapons. And West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the powerful National Rifle Association, said it's time to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.
In Newtown on Monday, minds were on mourning.
Two funeral homes filled for Jack Pinto and the youngest victim, Noah Pozner, who turned 6 just two weeks ago..
A rabbi presided at Noah's service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket with a Star of David on it.
"I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room," Noah's mother, Veronique Pozner, said at the service, according to remarks the family provided to The Associated Press. Both services were closed to the news media.
Noah's twin, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy.
At 6-year-old Jack Pinto's Christian service, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home, where the boy lay in an open casket.
Photo: Easton police officer J. Sollazzo embraces a couple walking a young student into Hawley School, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Classes resume Tuesday for Newtown schools except those at Sandy Hook. Buses ferrying students to schools were festooned with large green and white ribbons on the front grills, the colors of Sandy Hook. At Newtown High School, students in sweatshirts and jackets, many wearing headphones, betrayed mixed emotions. Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)"