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5 Life-Saving Changes After the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden testify on key reforms to help create change after the tragesy at Sandy Hook elementary.

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Changing the response to mass shootings and preventing tragedies since Newtown

We’ve heard it many times. “If we weren’t able to pass gun reform after Sandy Hook, then nothing will ever change.”

Nothing has changed when it comes to the pain in the hearts of the loved ones of those murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. And nothing will ever change that can bring back the innocent children and educators killed on December 14, 2012. But what has changed since that fateful day is the growing gun violence prevention movement and real progress on reforms.

1. Reforms Across America Since Sandy Hook

Since the days just after the school shooting tragedy, we have been advocating for bipartisan reforms on a national and state-wide level. We have successfully written and driven the passage of three federal laws under three administrations. In an era of divisive politics, a nearly unanimous Congress passed our mental health and school safety laws. The bipartisan Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act was signed into law in 2021. The STANDUP Act encourages states and tribes to implement and expand evidence-based suicide prevention trainings.

In 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law, providing funding for states to implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders, community-based violence interventions, expansion of the STOP School Violence Act, and mental health for schools. The bill also includes updates or provisions to many key gun violence issues.

Ohio and Louisiana passed the SAVE Students Act, which establishes requirements for life-saving trainings. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts introduced the legislation. 21 states – red and blue – expanded background checks on all gun sales. 19 states and the District of Columbia currently have extreme risk protection order laws to help gun owners and their families in times of crisis1.

In September 2023, President Biden announced the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, attended the Rose Garden ceremony and made the following statement:

“The creation of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention makes a significant commitment to address this growing epidemic… We must never stop moving forward, with purpose through our pain. We are committed to working with this new office and elected leaders at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle to prioritize the safety of our children and the prevention of further gun violence.”

2. Students Leading the Way Against Gun Violence

SAVE Promise Clubs are the largest network of student-led anti-violence clubs in America. Today, the movement has grown to more than 4,500 clubs nationwide. In big cities, small towns, and everywhere in between, students are organizing to make their schools and communities safer.

3. Public Opinion Significantly Changed

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, a 2013 Pew Research poll2 reported 81% of Americans supported background checks. Today, background checks have near universal support with 92% of people supporting them3.

4. Gun Safety Reform Movement is Gaining Momentum

More than 10 million people have made the Sandy Hook Promise to do all they can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools, and communities. Millions of people have signed our petitions on issues demanding Congress to keep children safe from gun violence. Thousands more have written and called legislators – and even joined massive rallies and protests to end gun violence.

5. Evidence is Mounting: Prevention Programs Save Lives

In a landmark study, the United States Secret Service reported that since 2008, every school shooting that has been prevented was due to community members “coming forward when they observed behaviors that elicited concern.” In fact, more than 22 million students and educators have participated in our Know the Signs programs.

More than 653 lives have been saved through these programs. In fact, we have helped prevent more than 275 acts of violence with a weapon, including 16 planned school shootings. What’s more, our crisis counselors have prevented untold tragedies. They’ve helped at-risk youth with over 249,000 tips to our hotline through our Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.

What You Can Do to Fight Gun Violence After Sandy Hook

While the days can seem dark, with all of you by our side, we will continue to move forward. See a timeline of our history and impact over the years.

Together, we can keep our Promise to make our community and our nation a safer, better place. You can be a part of that vision.

And together, we can pass more commonsense gun reforms to protect our kids. Join us in calling on Congress to take action.


  1. Giffords Law Center
  2. Pew Research Poll
  3. Quinnipiac University Poll