Ten years since Sandy Hook

Know The Signs

Sandy HookTen years since Sandy Hook. A decade since a 20-year-old shot and killed 26 people, 20 of them six- and seven-year-olds in Newtown, CT.  It was the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school in US history.

It would be understandable to believe that nothing has been achieved in its wake. While it initiated the debate about gun control, the immediate federal government response was disappointing.

“Five days after the shooting… President Obama announced that Vice President Biden would lead an effort to develop a set of concrete policy proposals for reducing gun violence, due no later than January [2013].”

Some semiautomatic assault rifles had been prohibited by a law passed by Congress in 1994, but the law was not renewed in 2004.

Polls constantly show public support for greater gun control, but such legislation was defeated in 2013. Another bill would have required background checks for firearm sales online or at gun shows. Though most Senators supported it, that item required 60 affirmative votes, which didn’t happen. Some states did pass similar bills.


It took another mass tragedy to prove the lie of a National Rifle Association strategy promulgated after Sandy Hook. The NRA advocated for armed guards in all American schools. About a fifth of public and private schools in the U.S. already employ police or other armed security personnel.

When the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, took place on May 24, 2022, it took hundreds of armed officers 75 minutes to confront the gunman and end the tragedy. 19 children and two adults were murdered. The notion that teachers in large numbers should be packing heat when trained responders took so long was shocking and revealing.

Less than a month later, the Safer Community Act was signed. The bill includes money to help states implement and operate crisis intervention programs. The legislation encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. More individuals selling guns as primary income sources must register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers.


Meanwhile, Sandy Hook Promise, a “national nonprofit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed” at the school, “is developing policies that protect children from gun violence. It is working with “experts in the fields of child psychology, education, and social-emotional learning to create the Know the Signs violence prevention programs.”

Prevention is sometimes difficult to measure, Still, within “the first two weeks of the new 2022-2023 school year, at least two credible planned school shooting attacks were averted by the Say Something program in Florida and North Carolina. We see students continuing to be Upstanders in prevention rather than bystanders to tragedy by following three simple steps of the program: (1) recognize the warning signs, (2) take the warning signs seriously, and act immediately to (3) tell a Trusted Adult. Investigations confirmed the threats were real, and arrests were made.”

The group also supports policies for the safe storage of guns, and

policies to “allow family members or law enforcement to seek the court’s help to separate people in crisis from firearms” temporarily.
Some justice
A landmark $73 million settlement between the families of nine of those killed at Sandy Hook and the Remington Arms company took place on February 15, 2022. This may have been the best outcome the plaintiffs could have gotten.
And this autumn, the truly reprehensible conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion to Sandy Hook families. The plaintiffs showed that Jones not only did substantial harm to the families but that he made hundreds of millions of dollars doing so. He’s now filing for bankruptcy.
Boston Globe editorial, November 2022: Assault weapons bans work. More states should try them. Only a handful of states have assault weapons bans despite evidence that such a policy could reduce mass shooting fatalities.
WaPo opinion piece, June 2022: 6 solutions to gun violence that could work
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