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Early fatality figures coming out of Newtown dwarf those from Columbine and almost all other school shootings. Based on the horrifying number of deaths currently being reported — possibly between 27 and 30 — only the Virginia Tech massacre took a larger toll in human life. For some perspective about just how awful the events Sandy Hook Elementary were, here is a list of the deadliest school shootings in history:

  • Virginia Polytechnic and State University—Blacksburg, Virginia (2007): 32 victims
  • Sandy Hook Elementary—Newtown, Connecticut (2012): 27 victims, according to early reports. CNN reports the death toll to be closer to 30.
  • Dunblane School—Dunblane, Scotland (1996): 17 victims
  • Johan Gutenberg high school—Erfurt, Germany (2002): 16 victims
  • University of Texas—Austin, Texas (1966): 16 victims
  • Albertville secondary school—Winnenden, Germany (2009): 15 victims
  • École Polytechnique—Montreal, Canada (1989): 14 victims
  • Columbine High School—Columbine, Colorado (1999): 13 victims
  • Azerbaijan State Oil Academy—Baku, Azerbaijan (2009): 13 victims
  • Tasso da Silveira Municipal School— Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2011): 12 victims
  • Kauhajoki School of Hospitality—Kauhajoki, Western Finland (2008): 10 victims
  • Red Lake Senior High School—Red Lake, Minnesota (2005): 9 victims
  • Oikos University—Oakland, California (2012): 7 victims

Many of these incidents caused countries to get strict on gun control. Following Dunblane, the U.K. banned handgun ownership. The Montreal massacre led to laws that made it harder to get a gun in Canada. White House spokesman Jay Carney has said, "Today's not ... a day to engage in the usual Washington policy debates," but others want to start the discussion.

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