Friday, January 27, 2023

Ten years after Sandy Hook, there is pain, but hope

NEWTOWN, Conn. ( Associated Press) – If he hadn’t been killed a decade ago, he would be 16 or 17 now.

The 20 kids who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, could have spent this year thinking about college and getting their driver’s licenses. They’ve probably already gone to their first prom.

Instead, the families of the 20 students and six faculty and staff killed in the mass shooting celebrated their tenth anniversary on Wednesday without them.

December is a rough month for many in Newtown, a Connecticut suburb, where the joy of the holiday season is clouded by sadness surrounding the anniversary of America’s worst elementary school shooting.

Some Sandy Hook alumni who survived the massacre experience guilt and anxiety, which can heighten around this time. For parents, this can mean grief reigns, even as they continue to fight on behalf of their lost children.

In February, families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre reached a $73 million settlement with gun maker Remington, which made the rifle used by the man who pulled the trigger. Jurors in Connecticut and Texas have ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $1.4 billion for spreading the lie that the massacre never happened and it was all a hoax.

In mid-November, a memorial to remember the 26 victims was unveiled near the new primary school, built to replace the one that was torn down after the tragedy.

Ten years later, relatives of some of the victims and survivors have hope for a better future.

activism after tragedy

After the massacre, Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden were among the relatives of the victims who decided to do something: They helped form Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit group that works to prevent suicides and mass shootings.

Hockley — who lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan — and Barden — who lost her 7-year-old son, Daniel — still find it hard to believe that their children have been gone for ten years.

“To me, Dylan is still a 6-year-old kid, forever frozen in time,” Hockley said. “This journey that we’ve been on for the last 10 years, it doesn’t feel like a decade and it doesn’t feel like 10 years since I last held my son.”

A decade hasn’t eased Barden and his wife’s disbelief over Daniels’ death.

“Jackie and I still have moments where we just look at each other, still thinking about the fact that our little 7-year-old boy was shot and killed in his first grade classroom. ,” He said.

“I can’t help but wonder what he would be like now at 17,” he said, repeating the number 17. “I think he’ll be a more mature version of the handsome, sweet, kind, thoughtful, intelligent little boy he was at 7. And it breaks my heart to think what an amazing influence he must have had over these last 10 years and his The pass would still be what they had, but they gave it away.

Programs created by the Sandy Hook Promise organization have been taught to more than 18 million children and adults in more than 23,000 schools. Key components include education on warning signs of potential school violence or self-harm and a whistleblower system for reporting a classmate who may be hurting themselves or others.

Hockley and Barden say they believe their educational programs and reporting system have prevented many suicides and a few school shootings.

“It’s a great satisfaction and a great responsibility,” Barden said when talking about the group’s work. “And it’s a gift in a way that we’ve created something that allows us to have this mechanism with which we can honor our children, save other children, and save other families from suffering this pain.” Can.”

growing up as a survivor

Ashley Hubner was in her second grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary when the shooting happened. He and his classmates fled to an area to hide. The school’s intercom system went off. Everyone could hear gunshots, screams and cries.

When the police arrived, he and his companions did not want to open the door. They thought the miscreants were posing as agents. They shouted “No!” The agents had to convince them that they were real policemen.

Ashley, now 17 and a senior at Newtown High School, developed post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles with anxiety and depression, as did the other students who were there that day. Ashley said that with each anniversary of the massacre she always became more emotional and irritable.

“Even though 10 years have passed, it is still a problem that many of us still have to deal with in our daily lives and it still affects us greatly,” he explained.

Adding to the pain is the fact that the ruthless firing continues, he said.

“We’ve had 10 years to change things, but we’ve changed so little, and that’s disgusting to me,” he said.

Ashley said she and her former classmates still don’t talk much about the anniversary.

“I think everyone is trying to pretend everything is back to normal, but when that day comes, I’m sure people will reach out to me and I will reach out to people.”

Ashley wasn’t sure how she was going to remember that day. All schools in the city will remain closed. She said she might make her first visit to the new monument.

He assures that he has been happy in his final year at pre-university school, calling it one of the best school years he has ever had. He is anxious to enter the university.

“I’m so excited to leave,” she said. “Getting new experiences, growing up, and moving forward with this chapter of my life, you know?”

light conquers darkness

The Church of Santa Rosa de Lima has been a gathering place for the Newtown community since the day of the massacre, when hundreds of people filled the Catholic church and attended a vigil outside. Since then, the Church has held a special Mass every 14 December.

Father Robert Weiss is still dealing with his trauma. His church led the funerals for the eight children who were killed. He hasn’t slept well since then and is easily shaken. During Mass, he is always on the lookout for the entrance to the temple, fearing the arrival of a violent intruder.

Talking about the anniversary, he said, “It was a very difficult moment for me to bury those eight children.” “It really brings back a lot of sad memories.”

The anniversary public focuses on hope, Weiss said, with the theme of light defeating darkness.

“The darkness of evil is not going to defeat the good and as a community we have to work together to ensure that,” he added. “We want to celebrate and remember the children and families, and how this tragedy has turned into so many positive things to help other people.”

2022, a “Tipping Point” on Gun Control

After Sandy Hook, many gun violence prevention advocates reacted in frustration, feeling that nothing was being done to stop such massacres. The failure of the gun control bill in the months following Sandy Hook was another painful loss.

But U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said the tragedy brought new energy to the movement, with several groups calling for action.

“In the 10 years before Sandy Hook, the gun lobby controlled Washington. They got whatever they wanted,” Murphy said.

“After Sandy Hook happened, we began to build what I would describe as the modern movement against gun violence,” he said. “For the next 10 years, there was basically stagnation. The gun lobbyists were no longer getting what they wanted, but unfortunately we in Washington were not getting what we wanted.”

After mass shootings last spring that killed 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and another 10 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, Congress passed the bipartisan Safe Communities Act. was. Act), the first major federal gun control legislation in decades.

The law expands background checks for those who buy guns at an underage age, promotes mental health programs in schools and “red flags” to temporarily confiscate their guns from people deemed dangerous. Promote laws.

“I think this summer marked a tipping point where finally the gun control movement has more power than gun lobbyists,” Murphy said.

“It’s going to be a difficult December for these families, but I hope they see the difference they’ve made in the memory of their children over these 10 years,” she said.

Nation World News Desk
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