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Activists Push Policy Changes That Save Lives Nationwide

Sandy Hook Promise supporters at a rally.

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All across the United States, grassroots champions have been working with our policy team at the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund to pass common-sense legislation to protect children.

Despite the many challenges of the past year, they worked with elected officials on both sides of the aisle. Together, they put kids’ safety first in crafting bipartisan solutions that work for everyone. See recent progress in Washington and read about legislative wins at State Capitols.

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

After decades of inaction, in 2022, Congress passed a monumental bill that finally addresses gun violence in America. It was signed into law by President Biden shortly after. Sandy Hook Promise is proud to have been a key partner in drafting this bill and getting it across the finish line. While the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act doesn’t do everything we need to end gun violence, it goes further than any federal legislation has in almost 30 years. In addition to key gun safety reforms, the new law also provides additional safety and mental health support for students. It also helps us honor the legacy of the lives lost to gun violence.

Sandy Hook Promise was particularly proud to see our initiative to dedicate federal dollars to support state implementation of extreme risk protection orders included in the bill. The better extreme risk protection orders are understood and properly utilized, more lives will be saved.

Learn more about the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and Sandy Hook Promise’s advocacy in this video.

National Student Suicide Prevention Bill

Youth suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young people across the country. Sandy Hook Promise is making a difference.

President Biden signed the bipartisan STANDUP Act into law in 2022, marking a huge federal win for Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund. Now, more students will have access to lifesaving suicide prevention training. Find out more about how the STANDUP Act can help your school or community.

We’re also working to support youth mental health through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. This bill provides funding for suicide prevention training for college campuses, states, and tribes. We’re optimistic that Congress will approve additional funding and guidance, because every dollar matters when saving a life.

National Background Checks Legislation

More than 1.2 million activists have signed our Background Checks petition. Further, thousands more have called and emailed their legislators. They’re demanding that lawmakers take a stand to end this epidemic of gun violence. In fact, an average of 12 children die every day from gun violence in America. That’s why our volunteers won’t give up and our dedicated policy professionals work hard to make sure lawmakers find solutions.

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund’s unique bipartisan approach allows us to engage with Republicans and Democrats to explore a path forward for federal background checks. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act took a good step forward on background checks, and we continue to seek ways to close the devastating loopholes that have enabled gun violence in our country.

Louisiana Passes the SAVE Students Act

One of our biggest achievements on the state level in 2022 was the passage of the SAVE Students Act in Louisiana. The Suicide, Safety and Violence Education for Students (SAVE) Act ensures all middle and high school students have access to evidence-based violence prevention programs. Louisiana students will learn how to recognize social isolation and signs of potential violence and suicide. They will also get support on when and how to reach out for help.

The bill’s passage marks the second state to mandate this training in all middle and high schools. Our victory in Louisiana shows that bipartisan solutions designed to keep kids safe truly work!

Progress in Pennsylvania

The SAVE Students Act has also made significant headway in Pennsylvania. The legislation was introduced in the House and in the Senate and enjoys bipartisan support. There has been an increase in grassroots efforts in the state to pass the legislation, particularly among youth. Students and young people spoke directly with lawmakers to express their needs. We also hosted our first virtual statehouse day in Pennsylvania this year, allowing more advocates to access their lawmakers from a distance. Even in a virtual setting, direct advocacy works!

In 2022, the Pennsylvania legislature also introduced HB 1642, a bill that in part addresses youth mental health, bullying, and suicide prevention. We’re glad to see that Pennsylvania lawmakers are taking youth safety seriously.

HB 1642 is a big step in the right direction for student safety and wellbeing, and it paves the way for advancing the SAVE Students Act.

Kentucky Moves Forward on Increased Protections

In many acts of school violence or gun violence, the shooter displays warning signs. Getting help and providing support is essential – so warning signs don’t go ignored.

Laws that allow the temporary transfer of firearms away from someone in crisis can help with exactly that.

Kentucky’s temporary transfer bill (known as CARR, Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention) was introduced, with bipartisan sponsors, for a second time in the State Senate. With our first post-pandemic in-person statehouse day and partners Whitney/Strong, we continue to make progress with CARR in Kentucky. This progress shows Kentucky is ready for life-saving legislation that simultaneously prevents gun violence and preserves Second Amendment rights.

Reducing Student Trauma in Texas

Last year, SB 168 was passed in Texas. Despite good intentions, this bill allows schools to require students to participate in harmful and traumatizing active shooter simulations, which are not the same as drills.

Active shooter simulations can mimic real shootings and in some states have come to include fake blood, prop bullets, and law enforcement sweeping the halls with firearms drawn.

Sandy Hook Promise mobilized supporters to call upon the Texas Education Agency to issue rules clarifying the new law. Because of our Texas allies and champions, not only will active shooter drills and active shooter simulations be clearly defined as two different things, simulations will also be optional. This is an important victory in the journey to keep kids safe.

Making Schools in Massachusetts Safer

Advocates in Massachusetts continue to find ways to make students safer. The SAVE Students Act has been introduced in the House and Senate and continues to be considered in conversations around youth mental health and safety. This year, it made a big step forward and was passed by the Massachusetts Senate. We hope to see its passage in the House of Representatives soon.

Responding Quickly and Providing Solutions

When mass shootings happen, lawmakers at the state and federal level often look to Sandy Hook Promise for solutions and paths forward. In the wake of the Oxford school shooting in Michigan, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund worked closely with key elected officials as they sought solutions to prevent further school violence. Immediately after the Uvalde, TX shooting at Robb Elementary, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund met with legislators on both sides of the aisle to begin crafting bipartisan solutions to reduce gun violence.

How You Can Help Pass Kid-Partisan Policies

Policy change isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. But the cost of doing nothing is just too great. Death by firearms has become the leading cause of death of children and young adults.

Our policy team will continue working alongside our national network of grassroots supporters to fight for meaningful change. Each success moves us forward to a day where children can live without fear. Kids should be able to be kids when going to their school, playground or local grocery store. And every setback strengthens our resolve to work harder.

Want to learn more about how you can make a difference? Get involved with our nationwide network of volunteers, our Promise Leaders.