Two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the parents of two of the 20 child victims were joined by lawmakers who recommitted themselves to ending gun violence.
“Every gun-related death is a preventable death,” Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan, said Monday.
Hockley, who spent the two-year anniversary with family and friends, said the push to get tougher gun laws passed through Congress isn’t going to go away.
“We are gaining momentum. Our voices are growing stronger,” Hockley said.
But even Hockley admitted that she didn’t get involved in the issue until gun violence impacted her family.
“I remember reading in the news or watching on TV every day gun violence. I remember Aurora six months before me and I just didn’t think there was anything I could do about it,” Hockley said at a Capitol press conference. “It wasn’t a number one priority for me. I had to get the kids off to their soccer games and their karate classes and shame on me for not paying enough attention and not caring enough to get engaged and be part of the solution.”
Mark Barden, who lost his son, Daniel, said more than 30,000 people die every year from gun violence.
“My little Daniel’s death was preventable. Dylan Hockley’s death was preventable,” Barden said. “And it’s not going to happen by itself. We can do it and we have to do it.”
The solution doesn’t have to be policy. It can be programs about mental health and wellness. It can be programs that address social development and isolation, Barden said.
“Daniel used to go talk to the kid who sat alone,” Barden said.
Barden, who is active in Sandy Hook Promise, said they are trying to have personal conversations with people in their communities about gun violence prevention.
“We’re hoping to get people empowered through awareness and education,” he said. “So it doesn’t become complacent or complicit and doesn’t become acceptable.”
Both Barden and Hockley are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the manufacturer, distributor, and seller of the gun used to kill their children. However, both declined to talk about the lawsuit Monday.
As for public sentiment related to guns, Barden said he doesn’t believe a Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month that suggested that, for the first time in 20 years, 52 percent of Americans prioritize protecting gun rights over controlling gun ownership. Forty-six percent favored controlling gun ownership.
“I’ve been out in the field talking to the people in this country and I don’t believe that’s true,” Barden said of the survey, which he described as “biased.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said there’s no effort to take away anyone’s gun rights, “but the effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people is a goal that can unite us, Republicans and Democrats.”
Blumenthal said Monday’s press conference was an effort to “redouble the fight.”
He said the goal is to strengthen the laws and prevent this type of “needless, horrific tragedy so that it does not happen again.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said his worst day in office was “the day the background bill was stopped” by a minority of Senators back in April 2013.
But he said he’s not going to stop fighting.
“We understand that our mission now is to build a political infrastructure all across this country around ending gun violence,” Murphy said.
He added that “Congress has become complicit in these murders by our silence.”
Murphy remained confident that he can work with a Republican majority to get passed all the things they agree upon, like school safety and mental health programs.