six months after newtown

Remembering the Victims of the Sandy Hook Massacre

Caroline Previdi, Age 6

Baseball team loyalties start early in this part of the world.

Caroline Previdi was such a Yankees fan at age 6 that when her family attended a game at Fenway Park in Boston, she refused to go into the stadium.

Caroline’s favorite color was pink and “she danced everywhere she went.”

She used to sit in St. Rose of Lima Church with her arm around her big brother, a third-grader.

When the church took a collection to buy toys for needy children, Caroline broke up her piggy bank and brought in the money in a plastic bag.

The Previdi family was back at St. Rose of Lima Dec. 19 to say goodbye.

Caroline was among the 20 six- and seven-year-olds murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School five days before.

“You know, if you think you’ve been angry, you haven’t felt anything yet. … Things like this should never happen — and yet they did…” Monsignor Robert Weiss said at the service. “So what do we do?”

Weiss called on a grieving community to “stand up and show what we are.”

In past generations, we stood up and decided we were not a country that would tolerate unsafe cars on the road, or lax food safety regulations endangering our families.

Today we must stand up for common sense restrictions on consumer products like the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle used to murder Caroline Previdi and her classmates.


Six Months After Newtown: Rush of Gun Laws, Mixed Results

Newtown, Conn., marked the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings with a ceremony and moment of science Friday. Since the tragedy, lawmakers in four key states have approved significant restrictions on access to firearms. But elsewhere in the USA, the picture is far from clear.

A USA TODAY analysis of the 86 state gun laws passed since Dec. 14 shows that states have both tightened and loosened access to guns. Lawmakers in many states used the spotlight the shootings created to broaden both who can carry a gun and where they can carry it. States including Colorado and Maryland tightened access to guns, Arkansas and Mississippi eased restrictions, and many other states issued rules whose impact could be debated either way.

In the U.S. Senate, lawmakers on April 17 blocked a proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases.

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Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, after a shooting at the school that left 20 children and six adults dead.(Photo: Shannon Hicks, Newtown Bee, via AP)

The attack by gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staff members at the Newtown, Conn., school. Since then, the national death toll from guns has topped 5,000, according to a crowdsourced data initiative by online magazine Slate and the Twitter feed @gundeaths.

There are about 13,000 to 14,000 murder and non-negligent manslaughter victims each year, based on FBI data. In each of the past five years, guns have been used in roughly two-thirds of all homicides. That means about 5,000 deaths in the first six months of the year is typical.

The incidents since Newtown include 10 mass shootings that killed 44 people. The most recent came last week at Santa Monica College in California, in which a gunman killed five people. The FBI defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people die, not including the perpetrator.

Four people — including the gunman — died in a murder-suicide shooting Thursday in St. Louis.

FULL COVERAGE: Gunfight in America

The Sandy Hook shootings came less than five months after a midnight attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killed 12 people and jump-started a national conversation on guns and mental health. Legislators in Connecticut, Colorado, New York and Maryland responded quickly: Proposals in three states limited access to the kinds of military-style weapons or ammunition used in the shootings. In New York, new legislation forced owners to register these weapons for the first time. All four governors signed the bills into law.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, says Connecticut and New York already had strong gun laws. But Maryland and Colorado took much bigger steps post-Newtown: Maryland strengthened a “toothless” gun-dealer licensing system and for the first time this October will require Marylanders to tell police if their guns are lost or stolen. In Colorado, a new universal background check is “an important milestone,” Webster says.

Both states, he says, approved measures “to keep guns from dangerous people. That’s what I think is most significant since Newtown.”

Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, says there was “ a sense of urgency to do this and get this done.”

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, says the four states are post-Sandy Hook outliers that “got it wrong” in protecting citizens from gun violence. “The rest of the country is looking at this from a more pragmatic view,” he says. “They’re looking at it from a standpoint as to what really works.”

That includes measures such as Arkansas’ Church Protection Act, which prohibits churches or other places of worship from “determining who may carry a concealed handgun” inside, or a Mississippi law that drops the concealed-carry age from 21 to 18 for soldiers and veterans. In all, 30 governors have signed weapons measures since Newtown, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

President Obama met Thursday with relatives of the Sandy Hook victims to thank them for urging Congress to pass new gun laws.


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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare Realized: On the morning of December 14th, 2012, the Bardens went through their daily morning routine, assuming it would be like any other day. This day was different. What should have been a typical Friday morning of happiness at school with other first-graders turned into one of the most tragic, if not the most tragic mass shootings of American’s history. In a matter of less than five minutes, the lives of the Bardens and 24 other families were forever changed. A gunman entered the doors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot and killed 20 first-graders, the elementary school principal, four teachers, and the school psychologist before killing himself. The shooter had killed his mother earlier that day. She was the first victim.

In the six months that have passed since the Sandy Hook massacre, almost nothing has changed in America’s gun laws. Guns remain easier to get than health insurance, a family pet, or even a bank loan. A person who shouldn’t have had guns in the first place had been taught how to shoot by his mother, who seemed to not realize the dangers of putting her son behind one of the most deadly tools of our time. Instead of preventing certain people from having access to guns, the right-wing gun lobby has stained the discussion of gun control with blood, the blood of over 5,000 Americans to be exact, since the December 14th, 2012 shooting. More people have been killed in the United State alone since December 14th, 2012 than the number of US soldiers killed in the Iraq War, and more than the number of people killed on 9/11. It took a total of 11 years to have over 4,000 US soldiers killed in the Iraq War. On US soil, it only took LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS to have over 4,000 American citizens killed, including the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

The pictures above illustrate the agony, the turmoil, the insurmountable pain of losing a child years before their time. These parents, along with the other 24 sets of parents that had to bury their children in the weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre, were forced to deal with something no parent should ever have to face: the death of a young child. The town of Newtown, CT had to see 19 6-year-olds and 1 5-year-old, 19 6-YEAR-OLDS AND 1 5-YEAR-OLD memorialized and then subsequently buried in a span of about two weeks. The community said goodbye to 27 people it shouldn’t have had to.

Yet the right-wing gun lobby has learned nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even though their hands are covered in blood, they still attempt to find themselves blameless in every single gun death in America. Groups such as the National Rifle Association thrive on deaths, especially by guns. If they even remotely gave a damn about the families forever changed by gun tragedies, they would help stop the insanity of what the gun lobby has become. Instead, they bleed green, and they probably will never see the light.

The picture above came from an outstanding Washington Post article, which you can read in its entirety below. The article is powerful, moving, and chilling. It will,at times, render you speechless. If your stance on gun rights remains the same after reading the article or seeing the full picture set that accompanies the article, you are cold-hearted. No gun is more precious than a human life, NONE!!!

Read the entire article, accompanied with pictures here.
How Many People Have Been Killed By Guns Since Newtown? 5,048!

The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by. So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive. This data is necessarily incomplete. But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can…

To put that in perspective, there have been more people killed by gun violence in the United States in the last 183 days than were killed in the entire Iraq War or on 9/11.
Newtown Six Months Later: It's Not Over for Us

There is a pervasive sadness among many of our youth which requires attention, and not just in the elementary grades or the Sandy Hook section of town. Maybe the most universal reaction at this point is simply exhaustion. Six months of living with heartbreak takes a toll.

Note: This post was written by Miranda Pacchiana, a Newtown, CT resident and social worker.

It’s been six months since the attack that stole twenty-six people’s lives within minutes and left our community instantly traumatized and forever altered. On the one month anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting, I wrote a description of life in our town that summarized some common reactions and the varying states of our emotions. But at six months, it’s harder to generalize. As one friend who is close to the tragedy put it, not only are many of us in different places from each other, but the same person can have a wide range of feelings and reactions on any given day.

For many of us, there is comfort to be found in events that honor the twenty-six lives. All kinds of organizations in town host activities that bring people together to heal and participate in charitable endeavors and bring us together as a community. Newly formed advocacy groups dedicate efforts to help prevent further tragedy by focusing on correcting deficits in gun legislation, mental health resources and research, and school security. We are still regularly graced with visits from esteemed guests: sports teams, authors, singers and many others who make the trip to remind us that they care - especially for the grieving relatives, teachers and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

And yet, sometimes I am concerned that this same group of people, who are dealing daily with excruciating loss and trauma, don’t always feel the support and care of the town or the wider community. There is an inevitable isolation that members of the school experience as their days are spent behind police protection, and many outside their sphere have the luxury of putting their focus elsewhere to varying degrees. But nobody who was in the school that day, or lost a loved one, has the option of leaving December 14th behind, now or ever. Some can probably only summon the strength to get through each day at this point, continually reminded of the combination of grief and fear they carry. One only has to look into some of their faces at times, especially the surviving six- and seven year-olds, to see the lingering effects of witnessing terrifying violence and living with the murder of their teachers, friends and classmates.

While the air here seems less heavy lately, many of us still feel the weight of tragedy’s aftermath and occasionally find ourselves crying with little warning. We are aware of how our identity as a town has changed, for better and worse. Conversations with others in town, from friends who were closely impacted to strangers in a waiting room, can sometimes cross the line from therapeutic to picking at our emotional scabs.

From what I’ve learned about traumatized communities, it’s inevitable that there will be some friction and strife as we try to cope in the aftermath of tragedy. Newtown is not immune to these challenges. There have been differing and passionate views expressed about the future of the school, with some feeling that their voices were not sufficiently respected. Tensions crop up between people and organizations with political agendas. Some people are just plain tired of all the focus on the shooting and even the expressions of love that have followed.

Many families face emotional challenges as individual members each struggle with their unique reactions. There is a pervasive sadness among many of our youth which requires attention, and not just in the elementary grades or the Sandy Hook section of town. Maybe the most universal reaction at this point is simply exhaustion. Six months of living with heartbreak takes a toll.

Unfortunately, negative responses can easily overshadow the many quiet acts of kindness, especially when they are delivered aggressively and disrespectfully toward us, as they have been online and from some media outlets. It’s painful to witness anger and thoughtlessness directed at those who are hurting the most. Some affected people are able to shut out these messages to some extent. Others may feel the full sting as though it were salt in their wounds. My guess is that it depends on the day, or even the hour.

In sharp contrast to the hurtful messages, there is a well of empathy in the vast majority of Newtowners I encounter. We have a lot to be proud of. The combination of mutual support and a resolve to honor the lives of everyone we lost is carried out with compassion here, in ways large and small, every day.

I hear from people who think about “the families” (as we call anyone who lost a relative to the shooting) on at least a daily basis. Sitting at a sixth-grade band concert, one friend told me she was reflecting on all the parents whose children would never play music on that stage. Along with her sadness, she also felt an extra measure of gratitude as she listened to the kids perform Star Wars that spring evening. I wish that all the families and members of Sandy Hook School could experience the undercurrent of compassion that runs through the town and flows in their direction, often unseen and unsaid, but sincerely felt.

It’s still really hard to fathom what happened here on that tragic day six months ago. Maybe this simple fact is behind the whole gamut of reactions in and outside of Newtown; from being weighed down by grief to denying that the shooting was real. Occasionally, residents are advised to just “move on,” whatever that means. I’m sure that is easier for people who don’t live here, or didn’t lose someone in the shooting. But for many people in town, we are still affected on a daily basis.

Talking with a friend recently, we discovered that we both feel the need to wear something with a Newtown or Sandy Hook emblem every day, and especially when we leave town. The green and white ribbons aren’t worn much anymore except for special events, but many people still sport bracelets, t-shirts or other symbols of our home town and the life-altering events that we are dealing with. The reason is simple, and I think my friend said it best: “It’s not over for us.”