Southern California reacts to Connecticut school shooting

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People across Southern California today are reacting to the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut that left 27 people dead, including the gunman and as many as 20 students.

 Police today beefed up patrols around city schools today and coordinated security efforts with school police. L.A. Unified School District officials assure parents that the safety of students and staff is a top priority.  LA Unified police Chief Steve Zipperman says today is the last day of instruction for LA USD students before the winter break. Some students will return January 2nd, but most will return January 7th, and there will be stepped up security on that day as well.

LAUSD officials encouraged parents who feel their children might be in need of additional support to notify school administrators. And they suggested parents talk to their children “in a calm way” about the event. L.A. County Sheriff’s Spokesman Steve Whitmore urged parents to also work with law enforcement to maintain safety. Whitmore said parents should be composed when talking to their kids to give them reassurance and to help them not be overwhelmed.

Kaile Shilling, director of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, is herself wrestling with how to discuss the issue with her two young children, one of whom is in first grade.

“I think that’s a personal decision for a lot of people in terms of how do you frame it, how do you protect your children form things that are traumatizing and scary and that they shouldn’t be exposed to,” Shilling said. “At the same time how do you make them aware of what is going on around them, hopefully in a way that is constructive.”

State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, called for new gun control measures. He said he is considering reintroducing a gun-control bill that died in committee this year.  Yee’s bill would have banned conversion kits that allow a shooter to reload in seconds, circumventing restrictions on detachable magazines. He says today’s shooting underlines the need for such legislation.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council today adjourned in memory of the students and staffers who were shot, and ordered the city’s flags to be flown at half-staff. Earlier in the meeting, City Council President Herb Wesson called for a moment of silence in honor of the victims.

Much of the morning council meeting was spent honoring outgoing City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who was attending his last council meeting before heading to Washington, D.C., to be sworn in as a member of Congress. Cardenas mentioned the shooting during his final speech before the council. “This should never happen in this great country,” he said. “And yes, in this democracy, we can do something about it.”

“And yes, there are powerful interests who say the way to do something about it will get you un-elected, de-elected,” Cardenas added. “Bring it. Bring it.”