SANDY HOOK, Conn. (WTNH)– As flags flew at half staff around Connecticut, the memorial vigil honoring the 8th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting went all virtual, due to the pandemic.
Hearing the names of the 20 young students and six educators read off every December 14th always brings back the horrors of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Later that day, Connecticut’s U.S. Senators went to Newtown and met with the grieving families. Senator Richard Blumenthal remembers coming face to face with one mother.
“I said, ‘When you’re ready, we should talk about what we can do about gun violence,'” Blumenthal remembered. “And she said, through her tears, and then mine, ‘I’m ready now.'”
Many of those families did get to work, lobbying for universal background checks, and a ban on assault weapons. While Connecticut passed some of the toughest state gun laws in the country, speakers at Monday’s virtual anniversary vigil for Sandy Hook point out that the guns don’t care about state laws, or borders.
“Since Sandy Hook, close to 300,000 people have been killed in the United States by guns,” said Jeremy Stein, Executive Director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. “That’s a hundred people per day, over 40,000 people per year.”
More than 2,000 of those gun deaths since Sandy Hook have been in Connecticut. That led to the reading of another list of names. It consisted of people who died from gun violence in Connecticut so far this year. That list took a lot longer to read. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz reminded everyone of ongoing efforts to prevent some shootings.
“Increasing awareness about the dangers of mental illness,” Bysiewicz said. “We need to expand treatment of mental illness.”
With a new president taking office in five weeks, Senator Blumenthal sees an opportunity to push for universal background checks once more.
“Shame on us if we fail to seize this historic opportunity under this new administration to do what is an historic mandate,” Blumenthal said. “Honor with action and end gun violence.”
Of course, that was also the plan under a democratic President 8 years ago.