The shocking scenes that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday have added another name to the list of respectable but otherwise unremarkable towns forever scarred by tragedy.
Communities like Aurora, Columbine and Newtown have found themselves on the front line of a deeply emotional debate about the right to bear arms -- something that is enshrined in America's constitution.
While some view the death of 20 children as proof that radical gun control reform in the U.S. is needed, others believe the solution to the problem of gun violence is not better regulations but more guns. The result is America often struggles to find a common voice that satisfies those who totally oppose guns and those who fundamentally believe in their right of self-defense.
Yet gun violence is not an exclusively American issue. From Scotland to Tasmania, communities not too dissimilar to Newtown have experienced the same unspeakable horrors. But in some cases, those massacres have been a catalyst for important changes in gun control laws.
We look at some of those experiences and their effects.
Despite relatively limited gun ownership and availability, Britain has experienced several mass shootings in the past 25 years.
On Aug. 19, 1987, 27-year-old Michael Ryan went on a bloody rampage for several hours in the southern English town of Hungerford, Berkshire, armed with a pistol, hand grenade and an automatic rifle. He murdered 16 people and wounded over a dozen others, before he shot himself after being tracked down in a college building in the town.
In the wake of the Hungerford massacre, Britain introduced new legislation -- Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 -- making registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.
Nine years later, on March 13, 1996, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton burst into a school in the picturesque town of Dunblane in central Scotland and embarked on a terrifying shooting spree that left 16 5- and 6-year-old children and their teacher dead. The former scoutmaster turned one of the four pistols he was carrying on himself.
The following year, a new law -- Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 -- was passed effectively banning the private ownership of all handguns in the UK. This followed a highly successful public campaign in the months after Dunblane that included a petition being handed to the government with almost 750,000 signatures, according to British media reports.
Britain was shaken by another massacre in June 2010 when a lone gunman, named as Derrick Byrd, killed 12 people and injured almost 30 others after a near four-hour shooting spree in rural Cumbria, northern England. After a huge manhunt, the body of the 52-year-old taxi driver was found alongside two powerful rifles, one equipped with a telescopic sight. He had taken his own life. Police were investigating 30 crime scenes at one point.
The tragedy again raised questions about the effectiveness of Britain's gun laws after it was revealed Byrd was licensed to carry firearms. The licensing application process involves being vetted by police as well as the applicant's doctor to assess their fitness to own a weapon.
Finland enjoys a strong tradition of hunting and has a high proportion of gun ownership, with 1.5 million firearms owned in a nation of more than 5 million people, according to government figures.
Gun control has also been more relaxed here. Until recently anyone aged 15 and over was able to apply for a gun license if they offered a valid reason such as membership of a gun club.
Though gun crime is rare, the country has suffered two major incidents at schools in recent years.
On Nov. 7, 2007, a teenager opened fire with a handgun at his high school in the southern Finnish town of Tuusula, killing eight people before fatally turning the gun on himself.
Police said all of 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen's victims had multiple gunshot wounds, most to the upper body and head. Some 69 shells and more than 320 unused bullets were found at the scene.
Auvinen, who had no criminal record, obtained a license for the weapon the previous month and regularly practiced sharp-shooting as a hobby at a local range, police said.
The authorities said Auvinen, who police later described as lonely and antisocial, had posted a series of videos on YouTube featuring guns, with some hinting at the massacre at Jokela High School itself.
The following year, on Sept. 23, the country was numbed by news of another mass shooting. Over the course of 90 minutes, 10 people were fatally shot as Matti Juhani Saari, wearing a ski mask and black fatigues, rampaged through a campus at Kauhajoki city's School of Hospitality in southwestern Finland.
The 22-year-old later died in hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Chillingly, police revealed Saari had been questioned days before the shooting about a video posted on the Internet showing him firing a gun, though no action was taken because he was licensed and not broken the law.
In the wake of the shootings, the Finnish government moved to issue new guidelines on the use of firearms, particularly handguns and revolvers. New applicants for handgun licenses are now required to show they've been active members of a gun club for one year and be vetted by their doctor and police.