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Saturday, December 22, 2012 - 4:15pm
(CNN) — The last of the victims in the Connecticut mass shooting were to be laid to rest Saturday, as the grieving begins to be overtaken by a loud debate on gun control.
Josephine Gay turned 7 just days before Adam Lanza forced himself into Sandy Hook Elementary School, shooting her and 19 other students, along with six adults.
A photo of the happy child, wearing a green hat and with glasses on the end of her nose, has been republished widely.
Services also will held for 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, who is remembered for a singing voice bigger than her size. A representative for her father, the jazz musician Jimmy Greene, described the girl as "beautiful and vibrant."
In Utah, a funeral was held for Emilie Parker, 6. She "was the type of person who could light up a room," her father previously told reporters. She is remembered as a mentor to her two younger sisters, ages 3 and 4.
The horrendous nature of the December 14 shooting -- defenseless children and teachers being gunned down -- has led most Americans to conclude that something must be done.
But how? That debate about the steps needed to protect America's children is setting up to be an intense fight between those calling for more restrictive gun laws and those who want guns for protection.
Most of the voices in the immediate aftermath of the shooting favored more stringent gun control measures.
A CNN/ORC poll taken after the shooting shows that a slight majority of Americans favor restrictions on guns. Conservative Democrats and even some Republicans who have supported gun rights have said they are open to discussing gun control.
On Friday, the National Rifle Association weighed in, making it clear the organization would not budge an inch.
Instead, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed video games and the media, and said the gun rights group will fund a team to devise a program that would put armed guards at all schools. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.
The NRA's position sets the stage for a contentious battle between one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington and the Obama administration, which has promised quick action on "real reforms" to gun laws.
CNN iReporter Jason Asselin applauded the NRA's stance, even proposing that U.S. troops returning from war zones serve as armed guards. "Right now, our schools remain unprotected," he said. "Action is needed. Our children deserve to be protected."
But others panned the NRA's position.
Democratic Senator-elect Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, called LaPierre's words "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, blasted them as "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing the country." And former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said he found the remarks "very haunting and very disturbing."
Rick Huffman, another CNN iReporter and a retired police officer, cut up his NRA membership card in the wake of the mass shooting, which he said changed his views on gun control. "There's got to be a limit to what they let citizens have at their disposal," the Michigan resident said.
Sunday will mark a new chapter in this horrific saga, as the first full day when U.S. and Connecticut flags will be at full-staff since the violence, as directed by Gov. Dannel Malloy.
After that, the quest to understand what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, and why, as well as how to prevent more such carnage in the future, will continue.