Mark Barden, Father Who Lost Son at Sandy Hook Elementary, Introduces President Obama at White House Press Conference, Delivers Remarks on Behalf of Sandy Hook Promise Families

Washington, DC-- Following today’s filibuster of the bipartisan compromise to require criminal background checks for all commercial gun purchases, families of Sandy Hook victims and members of the Newtown-based nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise expressed their resolve to carry on their work to reduce gun violence.  Despite polls showing more than 90% of Americans favor closing loopholes that allow criminals to purchase deadly firearms without any background check, the Senate fell 6 votes short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster of the compromise proposed by Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Toomey (R-PA).  The bipartisan proposal would have required that instant criminal background checks be performed on those buying guns off the internet or at gun shows.

Sandy Hook Promise, the organization created by community members of Newtown, CT in the aftermath of the December 14 shooting, organized meetings this week and last week with Democratic and Republican Senators and several relatives representing victims murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  In those meetings, family members encouraged Senators to come together around legislative proposals that will both save lives and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.  

Following today’s vote, Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, delivered the following statement on behalf of the families with Sandy Hook Promise: 

“My name is Mark Barden.  Just four months ago my wife Jackie and I lost our son, and our children James and Natalie lost their younger brother Daniel, a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Our sweet seven year old Daniel was one of 20 children and six adults lost on December 14th.  I have to say, today it feels like it just happened yesterday.

“In our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of Americans from every corner of the country. 

“What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere.  In an instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes.  No one should have to feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands every year who lose loved ones to senseless gun violence.

“That’s why we’re here. Two weeks ago, twelve of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. Senators and have a conversation about how to bring common sense solutions to the issue of gun violence.   We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that a real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans.

“We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans, and shared with them pictures of our children, spouses and parents, who lost their lives on December 14th.   Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones but still we came to support a bi-partisan proposal from two Senators with A ratings from the NRA – a common sense proposal supported by 90% of Americans.  It is a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law abiding gun owners.

“We return home for now, disappointed but not defeated.  We return home with a determination that change will happen, maybe not today but soon. 

“We will keep moving forward.  We take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the American people.  

“On behalf of Sandy Hook Promise, I would like to thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer America.

“I would like to thank Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk for coming together to seek common ground on life-saving legislation.  And I would like to thank Connecticut’s Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, who have stood with us from the first hours after the tragedy. 

“We leave Washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the “Sandy Hook Promise”.  A pledge that we had great hope more U.S. Senators would take literally.

“Let me close by repeating the words with which the Sandy Hook Promise begins:

“Our hearts are broken; Our spirit is not.” 

We are NOT defeated.

We are here and we will ALWAYS be here because we have no other choice.

We are not going away, and every day as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows.

Now is still the time.

“Thank you.  It is my pleasure to introduce the President of the United States.”

In addition to its work promoting common sense reforms to our gun laws, Sandy Hook Promise is addressing the issue of violence on many fronts.  The group has partnered with leaders in the technology community to launch an Innovation Initiative to spur the development of new gun safety technologies.  Sandy Hook Promise is also beginning to work with other Promise Communities around the country who are interested in working to keep families safer from violence.

About Sandy Hook Promise

Sandy Hook Promise, based in Newtown, Connecticut, has a dual mission: first, to support those affected by the tragedy and help the community heal and second, to support comprehensive solutions to make our country safer from similar acts of violence. The organization promotes a renewed national dialogue around issues of mental health, school safety and gun responsibility that respects the rights that the Second Amendment bestows on individuals. To build support for national change, Sandy Hook Promise is asking all Americans to join with them in promising to make the changes necessary to prevent future tragedies.  Individuals can make the Sandy Hook Promise and learn more about the organization at Sandy Hook Promise is organized as a non-profit corporation, with a 501c(3) Foundation as well as a 501c(4) Action Fund. 

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