Can Sandy Hook’s Legacy Change the World?

I’m a self-described news junkie. I watch the evening news on television like so many others. I have a news app on my phone, and I check my Facebook and Twitter feeds throughout the day to see what might be going on out in the great big world. When a big story breaks, I am the first one glued to CNN, or refreshing my Twitter feed every 2 minutes. This is not new. I have always been a little ahead of the curve with a passion for current events. While other kids were outside playing hide and seek, I was inside watching interviews with the families of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. When some kids were at the mall shopping, or outside playing sports, I was inside watching the Berlin Wall come down with bated breath. While other kids asked to stay up late to watch their favorite comedy show or movie, I wanted to stay up late to watch the Presidential debates, and the State of the Union address and of course the opposing parties rebuttal that followed. I have seen all sorts of news stories unfold. I have watched them closely from the first whispers of the media to the waning interest that happened inevitably when the next big story came along. I have seen some happy stories, but more often than not, I have seen tragedy. Sadness sells.
I’ve seen shootings and bombings and torture and mayhem and I have followed it from start to end. And I have cried. I cried like I’d never cried before as I followed the news in the days after 9/11. I cried every time there was a news story that involved a child. But I’m not sure that a news story ever, ever impacted me the way the Sandy Hook school shooting did.

sandyhook3I don’t know if it was because I had unusually missed the news that morning, and so by the time I tuned in, I had already heard there was a gunman in a school, but the magnitude of it hit me hard and caught me off guard. I don’t know if it was because anything involving the death of children is difficult to process, especially if you are a parent. Or perhaps, and I think most accurately, if it was because my son, my child, my baby was also a 6-year-old first grade boy the day that it all happened. A boy sitting in his classroom. A boy reading. A boy surrounded by his friends. A boy looking at his teacher, put there to teach him and to keep him from harm’s way. A boy just like the 20 other boys and girls who did the same that day, until their beautiful precious lives were cut short in an instant, in a flash of senseless gunfire. When I heard the details finally, I learned that it wasn’t “just a school”, that it was an elementary school, a classroom full of first graders- babies. I learned that it wasn’t just a situation where there were “injuries” or even “casualties” but that 20 children (and 6 adults) had been murdered in cold blood. Every time I close my eyes, I could see them. I could see my son. And I just knew that this couldn’t continue. That there could not be more Sandy Hooks. But in the nearly 3 years since Sandy Hook, there have been nearly a hundred more shootings at schools around this country. And I just do not know if there is an end in sight.

sandyhook2The shooting prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, including proposals for making the background-check system universal, and for new federal and state legislation banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition (1). But the battle goes on. And no one can even pinpoint what they are fighting for. What will make the shooting stop? Banning guns? Making it more difficult to get a firearm? Limiting the sale of semi-automatic weapons? Attacking the NRA and it’s mission? Revamping the mental health institutions in this country? Going after big pharma in the belief that the over medicating of young people at risk for suicidal and homicidal tendencies are a side effect of certain drugs? Or the belief that people are wandering around unmedicated and mentally ill? Will any of this work?

I’ve spoken to parents, I’ve spoken to kids, and I’ve spoken to teachers (one of whom shared with us in an interview that will be up later today), everyone agrees that gun violence is scary. Everyone agrees that schools should be safe places, a haven, and not a place to fear being victimized or killed. I wish I had the answer. I wish anyone had the answer. I wish that people could stop bickering over semantics and politics long enough to realize that finding a solution, a way to at the very least minimize these events, isn’t an option, it is a necessity. An absolute, no questions asked, no more dead children, necessity. Just ask the families of:

Charlotte Bacon (DOB 2/22/06)
Daniel Barden (9/25/05)
Rachel Davino (7/17/83)
Olivia Engel (7/18/06)
Josephine Gay (12/11/05)
Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06)
Dylan Hockley (3/8/06)
Dawn Hocksprung (6/28/65)
Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06)
Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06)
Chase Kowalski (10/31/05)
Jesse Lewis (6/30/06)
James Mattioli (3/22/06)
Grace McDonnell (11/04/05)
AnneMarie Murphy (07/25/60)
Emilie Parker (5/12/06)
Jack Pinto (5/6/06)
Noah Pozner (11/20/06)
Caroline Previdi (9/7/06)
Jessica Rekos (5/10/06)
Avielle Richman (10/17/06)
Lauren Russeau (6/1982)
Mary Sherlach (2/11/56)
Victoria Soto (11/4/85)
Benjamin Wheeler (9/12/06)
Allison N. Wyatt (7/3/06)

Caroline Previdi was born on September 7, 2006 just one day after I had my son, and the day he was due to be born. What allows me to hold my son to this day, to have celebrated his 7th, 8th, and 9th birthdays while her parents do not, is nothing more than geography.

  1. Steinhauer, Jennifer (January 24, 2013). “Senator Unveils Bill to Limit Semiautomatic Arms”. The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  2. Sandy Hook memorial photgraph By Bbjeter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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