LONDON – As the world joined Americans in mourning the school massacre in Connecticut, many urged U.S. politicians to honor the 28 victims, especially the children, by pushing for stronger gun control laws.
Twitter users and media personalities in the U.K. immediately invoked Dunblane — a 1996 shooting in that small Scottish town that killed 16 children. That tragedy prompted a campaign that ultimately led to tighter gun controls effectively making it illegal to buy or possess a handgun in the U.K.
“This is America’s Dunblane,” British CNN host Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter. “We banned handguns in Britain after that appalling tragedy. What will the U.S. do? Inaction not an option.”
In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called Friday’s attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a “senseless and incomprehensible act of evil.”
“Like President Obama and his fellow Americans, our hearts too are broken,” Gillard said, referring to the U.S. leader’s emotional expression of condolence.
Australia confronted a similar tragedy in 1996, when 35 people were killed in a shooting spree in the southern state of Tasmania. The mass killing sparked outrage across the country and led the government to impose strict gun laws, including a ban on semi-automatic rifles.
Rupert Murdoch recalled that incident in a Twitter message calling the shootings “terrible news” and asking “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy.”
The mass shooting in Connecticut left 28 people dead, including 20 children. Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother at their home Friday before beginning his rampage at the school, then killed himself, police said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “horrific shooting.” “It is heartbreaking to think of those who have had their children robbed from them at such a young age, when they had so much life ahead of them,” he said.
The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI conveyed “his heartfelt grief and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all those affected by the shocking event” in a condolence message to the monsignor of the diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., which includes Newtown.
But much of the discussion after the Connecticut rampage centered on gun control — a baffling subject for many in Asia and Europe, where mass shootings also have occurred but where access to guns is much more heavily restricted.
Some in South Korea, whose government does not allow people to possess guns privately, blamed a lack of gun control in the U.S. for the high number of deaths in Connecticut.
Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s top daily, speculated online that it appears “inevitable” that the shooting will prompt the U.S. government to consider tighter gun control.