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Connecticut shooting: Newtown’s Scottish teachers back gun ban

Police cars outside the home of Nancy Lanza, the mother and the first victim. Picture: AFP

Police cars outside the home of Nancy Lanza, the mother and the first victim. Picture: AFP

  • by MARTYN McLAUGHLIN
 

TWO Scottish musicians who taught 12 of the young victims of the Connecticut school massacre have added their voices to the growing clamour for stricter gun control in the US.

Nell Malyszka and Trish Keil, originally from Edinburgh, said last Friday’s tragedy – which claimed the lives of 20 pupils and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary – has brought the community of Newtown “closer” together, and gave thanks for the “outpouring of love from around the world”.

The twin sisters, who teach piano and classical guitar to children as young as three, said President Barack Obama’s vow to re-examine the nation’s troubled relationship with firearms was “important” to ordinary people still reeling from the scale of the killing spree.

Ms Malyszka, 58, said: “We knew 12 of the children who lost their lives, as we were their pre-school music teacher before they moved up to Sandy Hook Elementary, we have taught their older siblings and now we are teaching their younger siblings.

“We have also been involved with St Rose of Lima Church since 1985. We are part of the music ministries where we direct the children’s choir – we lost six children from the parish, including Olivia Engel, who was going to be an angel in our live nativity, this past Saturday.”

Along with their brother, Matt Wilkie, the sisters emigrated from Muirhouse to the US in 1975 to pursue their music careers, and eventually settled in the “quaint and beautiful” community of Newtown.

In the aftermath of Adam Lanza’s attack on Sandy Hook, they say residents have been offering comfort to one another, aided by people travelling from further afield to offer help.

“Newtown is a close knit community and this tragedy has made it even closer,” Ms Malyszka said.

“There are many church services and ecumenical services taking place, some churches are staying open for 24 hours.

“The outpouring of love from around the world has also been a great comfort to both the families and the community.”

The sisters, who perform in a Celtic band, Eclipse, along with Mr Wilkie, said they hope the tragedy will act as a tipping point in the campaign to enforce stricter controls, not just in Connecticut, but throughout the US. Yesterday, the White House said Mr Obama was “actively supportive” of efforts in Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Meanwhile, Alex Salmond has written to Mr Obama offering his sympathies.

The First Minister wrote: “Scotland shares the shock and deep sadness of people across the world at the senseless loss of innocent lives at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. “It is impossible to comprehend how the children, along with their teachers, could have been so cruelly taken from their loved ones.”

HOLLYWOOD REACTS TO TRAGEDY

The premiere for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained, a violent spaghetti Western slave revenge tale, has been cancelled in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut last week.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles premiere was scheduled to have a red carpet and party, but instead there will be a private screening with no media coverage.

The film, which won five Golden Globe nominations last week, stars Jamie Foxx as a slave turned bounty hunter who wreaks revenge on slave plantation owners as he tries to rescue his wife.

It features Tarantino’s trademark style violence and is due to be released in US cinemas on Christmas Day.

Paramount Pictures cancelled a weekend premiere for Tom Cruise’s new movie Jack Reacher and New York’s Lincoln Center Film Society postponed a Monday screening and talk with Cruise out of respect for the Newtown families.

 
 
 

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