The youngest of the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School would likely be anticipating getting their driver’s licenses soon.
Instead, the nation continues to mourn the loss of their lives on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.
When the gunshots faded, 28 people were dead, including the gunman, and a nation reeled in shock.
Adam Lanza, armed with a semiautomatic rifle, two semiautomatic pistols, and multiple rounds of ammunition killed 20 first-graders, 6- and 7-year-olds, and six school employees.
Earlier in the day, he had killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, 52.
Lanza got into Sandy Hook just after 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 by shooting through a plate-glass window. When the principal and school psychologist went to investigate the noise they heard, Lanza shot and killed them.
“A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman on the loose, and someone switched on the intercom, altering people in the building to the attack – and perhaps saving many lives – by letting them hear the hysteria going on in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building,” wrote the Associated Press on Dec. 15, 2012.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation, saying, “Our hearts are broken today. … As a country we have been through this too many times.”
The victims were:
- Charlotte Bacon, 6
- Daniel Barden, 7
- Olivia Engel, 6
- Josephine Gay, 7
- Dylan Hockley, 6
- Madeleine Hsu, 6
- Catherine Hubbard, 6
- Chase Kowalski, 7
- Jesse Lewis, 6
- Grace McDonnell, 7
- James Mattioli, 6
- Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
- Emilie Parker, 6
- Jack Pinto, 6
- Noah Pozner, 6
- Caroline Previdi, 6
- Jessica Rekos, 6
- Avielle Richman, 6
- Benjamin Wheeler, 6
- Allison Wyatt, 6
- Victoria Soto, 27, teacher
- Lauren Rousseau, 30, a substitute teacher
- Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal
- Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist
- Rachel Davino, 29, teacher
- Anne Marie Murphy, 52, para-professional
The Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit was founded and is led by some family members of those killed at Sandy Hook.
It’s goal, according to its website, is to honor the victims of gun violence by “providing programs and practices that protect children from gun violence.”
“Sandy Hook Promise is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the ‘human side’ of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Our words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.”
On Dec. 17, 2012, during a memorial service for the victims, The Washington Post reported that Obama vowed to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the one at the school in Newtown, Conn., that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.”
In a surprisingly assertive speech at a memorial service for the 27 victims, including 20 children, Obama said the country had failed to protect its young and that its leaders could no longer sit by idly because “the politics are too hard.”
While he did not elaborate on what action he will propose, he raised expectations that he will make a robust effort to stop gun violence. The speech, a blend of grief and resolve, seemed to promise a significant change in direction for a president who has not made gun issues a top priority in four years in office.
After each of three other mass killings during his tenure, Obama has renewed calls for legislation without exerting much political capital, but the definitive language Sunday may make it harder for him not to act this time. “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world,” he said. “But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.” He added that “in the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds” in an effort “aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.” “Because what choice do we have?” he added.
We can’t accept events like this as routine.
Are we really prepared to say we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?
That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
He added: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”