Let's look at just a few of the things that have happened since that awful Friday 2 years ago.
- The parents of the murdered children started advocating for changes to our gun laws just a month after the tragedy, and succeeded, along with supporters from organizations all over the country, in getting a bill on the table in both houses and a vote in the Senate.
- President Obama spoke eloquently about the need for change as he wiped tears from his eyes saying "These Tragedies Must End".
- Vice President Biden led the effort to do something positive in the name of the dead.
- The Senate voted in the majority to expand background checks but did not have the 60 vote majority. But 6 "A" rated NRA members voted in favor- the authors of the bill included.
- New groups were formed and have activated thousands if not millions of Americans around the idea that gun laws matter and that more guns are not making us safer. These groups have also raised a record amount of money and have begun affecting elections in competition with the corporate gun lobby.
- The NRA's Wayne LaPierre inexplicably appeared at a press conference days after the shooting and made a fool of himself touting the tired old lines that the corporate gun lobby uses to get their supporters to give money and support to an organization whose leaders and lobbyists have failed the majority of their members. Their hyped up insanity contributed to the failure of the bill in the Senate.
- Since Sandy Hook, different figures have shown that there have been anywhere from 41 to 100 school related shootings in America. No matter what the number, there have been too many. No other country does shootings like America and no other country has school shootings like America.
- Since Sandy Hook, over 60,000 Americans have died from gunshot injuries and close to 150,000 have been injured by firearms.
- Since Sandy Hook, 7 states have passed gun safety reform measures and more are yet to come.
- And in the insanity that happens only in America, gun sales went up, at least temporarily, and some states weakened their gun laws.
- Since Sandy Hook, our Congress continues to run away from gun safety reform in spite of a very large majority of Americans in favor of expanding background checks and other gun safety reform measures.
- Since Sandy Hook, we are the only country not to pass some kind of national gun safety reform following a heinous mass shooting.
- Since Sandy Hook, the rhetoric continues unabated from the gun rights side trying to convince the public that their rights will be taken from them if any gun safety reform measure passes. They are wrong of course but never mind common sense.
- Since Sandy Hook there have been 2 years of national and local vigils to remember the dead. And still our nation does nothing.
- Children and guns are a continuing problem. We are losing too many of our children- about 8 per day- from gunshot injuries due to homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. The truth about kids and guns, a new report from the Brady Campaign discusses this important national public health and safety epidemic.
- The site of this heinous and horrendous shooting has now been torn down. The community could not live and work together in peace as long as the reminder of what happened 2 years ago stood in the town.
I could go on. But I want my readers to read this message from Nicole Hockley, a Sandy Hook parent. The letter is written to the mom she used to be. If you read nothing else today, this should be the one thing that gets your attention. From her letter:
Taking action to protect children from gun violence can take many forms. For some people that means fighting for policy and political change — that can be a long, frustrating road, and certainly not the only option. Small but meaningful actions create change. If you have five minutes, start a dialogue at the dinner table about gun violence with your kids. If you have two hours, host a conversation with other parents. If you can dedicate one day a month, work with educators on how to better recognize the signs of children who may be troubled and reach out to their parents immediately. But to do nothing? That doesn’t honor the dead and doesn’t protect the living.
One of the most important actions families, schools, employers and communities can do is learn the signs of someone in crisis and then intervene before they hurt themselves or someone else. We need to teach kids better anger management and conflict resolution skills, because much of gun violence stems from anger and fear. Learning other ways to deal with anger and fear rather than striking out at someone is a good first step. We need to recognize the signs on social media— and know the difference between someone who is just angry and someone who poses an imminent threat. Lines of communication always need to remain open between ourselves and our children.
I am beginning to feel some of my old optimism returning, because more and more people are engaging around this issue. Our conversation is gaining momentum. I sense a sea change is coming. I know everything we’re doing at Sandy Hook Promise will protect more children. We’re fighting a good fight.
But after every sort of victory, there’s also a moment of incredible sadness for me, for whatever happens, I know I still can’t bring Dylan back. That hole will never be filled. No matter how many lives get saved in his name, or in the name of others, I can’t go back. But you can go forward and make a difference.Yes, you can make a difference. We can all make a difference. It's way past time for that to happen but there is hope that, with resolve and armed with the facts and passion for saving lives, we can make change happen. In the name of the murdered children and educators, please join us in making change happen.
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung
Anne Murray Murphy
(Nancy Lanza, mother of the shooter, appears on some lists. She was the first murdered with her own guns by her own son who then went to the school and murdered the others.)
I would like to share this great column by Cliff Schecter, writing for Daily Beast:
Yes, we have work to do. But thanks to Schecter and the many others writing about the need for change to our gun culture and our gun laws, I believe change can and will happen.