Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 20 first graders and six educators. The gunman’s mother was also killed on the same day.
The remembrances bring ongoing calls for changing America’s gun laws. Among them is renewing a U.S. ban on assault weapons.
While there are varying definitions of assault weapons, they generally include semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine and pistol grip. These types of firearms were used in numerous mass shootings this year, including at the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
The United States had a 10-year assault weapons ban passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994. Congress did not renew the ban in 2004, allowing citizens to own these firearms.
“I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers. It is within our power to do this - for the sake of not only the lives of the innocents lost, but for the survivors who still hope.”
The Sandy Hook Promise, which is comprised of family members of those killed, has been working toward reducing school shootings. The group teaches “young people and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others.”
“We choose to remember and honor our loved ones by taking action to stop school shootings and gun violence,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Our Know the Signs programs save lives every day, sparing other families from the unspeakable pain of having a loved one taken by gun violence.”
Stopping school shootings goes beyond enacting stricter gun laws, the group says.
“Our children were killed because nobody took action on the warning signs to stop the Sandy Hook massacre from happening,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Gun violence is preventable when we take action to save lives, including legislative action to pass gun safety measures.”