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I'm A Sandy Hook Father & Here's What You Need To Know About Gun Reform

By Mark Barden

Mark and DanielOn Dec. 14, 2012, my life changed forever when the youngest of my three beautiful children, my sweet little 7-year-old son Daniel, was murdered in his first grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with 19 of his peers and six educators. Today, three and a half years later, I am currently one of the managing directors of Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit gun violence prevention organization with a mission to prevent other gun-related deaths so no one else has to experience the devastation of senseless gun violence.

2016 has been a year of senseless gun violence, with the shootings in Orlando, Fla.Kalamazoo, Mich., and Hesston, Kan. being just three of the more than 130 mass shootings the United States has seen so far this year. Gun reform continues to stall even after the Pulse nightclub shooting, which has been deemed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. In mid June, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, my home state, led an almost 15-hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate in order to bring a vote up on the Terror Gap and expanding background checks. Though his filibuster was successful and a vote was scheduled, four provisions, two from Democrats and two from Republicans, were all voted down and did not pass. The next week, another Connecticut Congressman, Jim Himes, led a movement to boycott the moment of silence for Orlando, not out of any kind of disrespect for the victims, but because moments of silence do nothing to help stop the next massacre. Only action can do that. Following his protest, Representative John Lewis and dozens of House Democrats led a 25 hour sit-in on the House floorto force the Republican majority to let them vote on similar measures. Their vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

Weeks after the Orlando shooting, I am still overcome with sadness. Unfortunately, it's part of a longer continuum of this epidemic. I would never propose to say that I know what they're going through just because we've shared a similar loss, but I can empathize, as I know all too well how it feels to suddenly lose someone to gun violence. I continue to feel empathy for them, because I know this journey is just beginning and it will never end.

At Sandy Hook Promise, we like to think of gun reform as a series of "ands" not "ors" — not this or that, but this and that. There are so many things we can do from a policy, legislative, and cultural perspective that it's wide open with opportunities to do better.

Upward of 32,000 people continue to die from gun-related tragedies every single year in this country, and so many of those deaths are preventable. While numbers related to violence, accidents, and negligence are going down, these gun-related tragedy figures aren't changing. The stats for the automobile industry come to mind: According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle traffic-related injuries resulting in death decreased 3.7 percent between 2012 and 2013, which the CDC notes is significant. Meanwhile, the CDC also reported that the death rate from firearm injuries "did not change significantly in 2013 from 2012." I think the rate of automobile-related tragedies is dropping because we're working hard on various strategies to bring them down, but we haven't been able to do that with gun-related tragedies.

There so much we can do. We need better policy reform around who has access to firearms and how they obtain that access. Gun violence restraining orders represent opportunities to save countless lives. Safe gun storage is another effective way to prevent a gun from getting in the wrong hands, but currently, there are no federal laws mandating safe storage, and only 11 states have any sort of requirements at the state level.

We also need to speak to our culture in ways that we haven't before. That's part of the work I'm doing with Sandy Hook Promise. We're trying to engage people in this conversation before the gun is even in the equation. We are providing them with something to do, rather than just telling them to sign their name on a list. We offer programs that can be quickly and easily implemented in their communities and school systems for free. These programs address the heart of the matter regarding identification and prevention by training people to identify someone who might be on their way to hurt themselves or somebody else with a firearm, and get them the help they need before it results in disaster. We are also working closely with our federal government to pass meaningful mental health reform so that quality, comprehensive mental health care is available and accessible to more people.

Daniel

To the legislators who are working their hardest to pass common sense gun measures: Thank you. The majority of the American public is with you. I think the Democrat sit-in was a great tool for awareness; anecdotally, I know that a lot of people aren't aware that those who are considered too dangerous to get on an airplane are still allowed to legally purchase guns. It all comes down to raising our voices and making noise, and that's one of the things that our legislators who participated in the sit-in are doing. They are raising this issue up to the top of the lines, and I think they've done a great job with that. It was at the top of the news for days, and is educating people and hopefully motivating them to get engaged. Those who are with our legislators in mind, body and spirit need to be vocal. They need to make their support known, because that's where the breakdown is.

To the legislators who are obstructing any and every proposed piece of gun safety reform — you are out of step with your constituents. The polls show that 90 percent of Americans want better gun reform and safer gun regulations in this country. Your constituents know that you are not voting in their favor. Shouldn't the welfare and safety of your constituents be one of your top priorities?

To the citizens who think we don't need improved gun reform, I think you owe it to yourself to educate yourself. There's a lot of good that can be done and a lot of lives that can be saved — without infringing on anyone's Second Amendment rights. The government is not coming after your guns. We really need to step back and look at this rationally and understand that we need to do a better job.

There are so many ways for people to raise their voices and be heard. If you're already involved, get more friends involved. Find a gun violence prevention organization that resonates with your own philosophies and get active with them. Write to your legislators. Call your legislators. We know that they don't hear from folks, because a lot of folks don't know that that's what they need to do. Or, they do know and they think that somebody else is doing it — and they're not. We know from speaking to policy makers that they only hear from the extremists on the fringe. So, the vast majority of sensible people in the center need to speak up. If you look at any social movement throughout history, that's what it takes. It takes noise and engagement from the majority in the center. Make noise. Be heard.

I hope that whoever ends up in the Oval Office is listening to those who are making noise, as 90 percent of Americans want to see something done. 90 percent of Americans believe that we need to do better with sensible gun reforms. The majority of NRA households think that we need to do a better job with gun reform. This country is ready to move forward and progress.

Mark, Jackie and Daniel

As we mourn the increasingly frequent mass shootings and the daily gun-related tragedies that continue in our cities, I hope that people will take a moment to realize what's at stake here and why this mission is so important. It affects all of us.

My sweet, little Daniel was an exceptionally compassionate little boy who was aware of all those around him. We used to call him the caretaker of all living things, because he would save the worms from the sun, and he would connect with his classmates who were sitting alone. Daniel thought nothing of taking the risk of putting himself out there to improve the quality of life of others, because he knew it was the right thing to do. If more of us can take that message and move it forward, we would be in a better place.

 

As told to Lucia Peters at Bustle: http://www.bustle.com/articles/168993-im-a-sandy-hook-father-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-gun-reform

Call Your House Member in Support of Mental Health Reform!

The House is voting tomorrow on a critical mental health reform bill we’ve been working toward for over three years – but the only way it will pass is if House members hear from all of us right now.

We are so close to finally passing these historic mental health reforms. If you make a quick phone call to your representative’s office immediately, we can secure the votes we need to win. Please call now and urge your representative to vote to help save lives by identifying and providing treatment for those battling mental health issues:

 

Capitol switchboard

(202) 224-3121]

 

Making a call like this might seem intimidating, but we promise it’s very quick and easy. Here's an outline you can follow on your short call:

 

  • First say your name and that you’re a constituent.

 

  • Then tell them you support Rep. Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act to address mental health issues and save lives.

 

  • Finish by explaining too many families have been devastated because of unidentified and untreated mental health issues, and you’re counting on your representative to vote yes for mental health reform.

 

After your call, please click here to let us know how it went. We’re keeping our vote count up to date so we know which representatives still need to hear from us.

 

With your help, we can fix our country’s broken mental health care system and save lives. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for your support, and for helping us honor the memory of Dylan.

Sandy Hook Promise Expands Reach of Research-Based Prevention Programs into Schools with Support from Discovery Education

Sandy Hook Promise, a national gun violence prevention organization, today announced a new collaboration with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms. This innovative initiative empowers students and teachers in schools across the country with digital tools and resources supporting the development of the skills needed to prevent violence at home, in schools, and in their communities.

 

Sandy Hook Promise helps prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens by teaching educators, administrators and students, at no cost, how to recognize the signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help.  In just 14 months, Sandy Hook Promise has educated more than 800,000 youth and adults in over 1,000 schools and youth organizations – immediate impacts include thwarting a school shooting, suicide attempts and other threats of violence. Through this collaboration, Sandy Hook Promise will accelerate and expand the reach and impact of two of its prevention programs, Say Something and Start With Hello, to more schools nationwide. 

 

“We are very excited to be partnering with Discovery Education,” said Nicole Hockley, managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, a 6-year-old who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with 25 other young children and educators. “Their deep relationships with school districts nationwide will help deliver to millions of classrooms the resources educators and students need to make a difference and prevent violence in their own schools and communities.  The potential for real impact and saving lives is overwhelming and is an incredible way to honor the lives we lost by helping others.”

 

“I’m excited to implement Sandy Hook Promise’s programs in our school, as we want to provide our students with the skills to create an inclusive and safe school environment,” said Karen Wells, Library Media Specialist at Midland School District in Arkansas. “These programs will help our students be active participants within their community by giving them the knowledge and courage to say something if they see something amiss.”

 

Discovery Education will make available to educators everywhere two valuable sets of resources designed by Sandy Hook Promise, including:

 

  • Say Something: Through educator guides, presentations and engaging videos, Say Something teaches young people how to recognize signs and signals, especially within social media, of an individual who may be a threat to themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult. According to studies published by the American Psychological Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry, in 4 out of 5 school shootings, the attacker told someone of his/her plans prior to the attack and 70% of people who complete suicide give some sort of type warning. Say Something helps educate students to become aware of the signs and to enlist trusted adults to defuse the situation before it escalates. The program’s resources are appropriate for use with students in grades 6-12.  
  • Start With Hello: Through parent, student and educator guides, Start With Hello teaches youth how to be more inclusive and connected to one another.  The simple act of saying hello can have tremendous impact with letting young people know they are not alone and are valued and included. Start With Hello works to create connectedness and community, by minimizing social isolation, marginalization and rejection, before an individual chooses to hurt them self or others. The program’s resources are appropriate for use with students in grades 2-12.

 

“Sandy Hook Promise is making a tremendous impact in classrooms by empowering teachers and students to recognize early warning signs, and simultaneously creating a sense of connectedness and community in schools,” said Lori McFarling, Senior Vice President at Discovery Education. “Discovery Education is proud to support their incredible efforts by helping deliver these valuable and potentially lifesaving digital resources to educators and students.”

 

For additional information on this initiative, please visit www.DiscoveryEducation.com.

 

About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a nonprofit organization led by several family members who lost loved ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.  SHP helps prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens by teaching adults and youth how to recognize the signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help.  We achieve this by delivering four research-based mental health & wellness programs, at no cost, to schools and youth organizations.  For more information, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.

 

About Discovery Education: Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.

Sandy Hook Promise Calls on Senate to Pass Collins Amendment

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Sandy Hook Promise Calls on Senate to Pass Collins Amendment

 

Washington D.C. – June 23, 2016 – Sandy Hook Promise, the national gun violence prevention organization, applauds Senator Susan Collins and her colleagues for swiftly taking action after the Senate failed to pass gun safety measures earlier this week and proposing the bipartisan Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016 in an effort to close the terror gap. In light of the Orlando tragedy, this amendment is an important step to protect innocent lives. If persons are deemed unsafe to fly, they should not be able to purchase a firearm.

 

“I commend Senator Collins and her colleagues for their work to put forward bipartisan legislation that can help protect our country from senseless gun violence,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise who lost his first-grade son at Sandy Hook.  “We cannot lose hold of this moment by expecting or accepting inaction in the Senate or House. I demand more from Congress and expect them to come together and do the right thing, starting by passing this commonsense amendment to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.”

 

Sandy Hook Promise also stands with the members of the House and their Senate colleagues who led a sit-in beginning Wednesday morning to demand a vote on gun violence prevention legislation, including legislation to close the terror gap, before the recess. Both chambers must come together and act to end this epidemic of gun violence across our country.

 

If Congress passes this new amendment, it will prevent people who are on the FBI’s No Fly List or Selectee List from purchasing firearms.

 

About Sandy Hook Promise

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a non-partisan national nonprofit formed and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  Based in Newtown, Connecticut, SHP’s sole purpose is to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens so that no other parents experience the senseless, horrific loss of their child.  SHP delivers, at no cost, four Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults to recognize signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help before it is too late.  SHP’s Know the Signs programs have helped stop a school shooting, multiple suicide and firearm threats, while also intervening to help individuals get mental health assistance.  Additionally, SHP advocates for sensible state and federal violence prevention policy in the areas of mental health and wellness identification, intervention and treatment as well as firearm access and storage. To bring SHP’s Know the Signs programs to your school or community or help advocate for sensible policy, visit sandyhookpromise.org.

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Sandy Hook Promise Urges Senate Not to Give Up Gun Violence Prevention Legislation; Requests Another Vote

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Sandy Hook Promise Urges Senate Not to Give Up Gun Violence Prevention Legislation; Requests Another Vote

 

 

Washington D.C. – June 20, 2016 – Sandy Hook Promise, the national gun violence prevention organization, tonight urged the Senate not to give up moving forward with legislation that would close the terror gap and expand background checks for gun buyers. Just as victims of gun violence are not able to return home, Sandy Hook Promise asks that the Senate not return home until common sense gun safety measures pass and requests another vote.

 

“Congress must come together to prevent future gun violence and tragedies,” says Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise who lost her six-year-old son Dylan in Sandy Hook. “We won't accept a series of failed votes and send our members home. They have a responsibility to all of our families.  I call on our congressional leaders to find a path forward to protect our communities and save lives."

 

Sandy Hook Promise applauds those who voted to pass Senator Chris Murphy’s and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposals, a much needed step to ensure that we protect our nation’s citizens and demands that Congress to come together to create legislation that can help put a stop to this epidemic of gun violence across our country.

 

Tonight’s vote comes off the heels of Senator Chris Murphy’s 15-hour filibuster last week, which ended with an emotional appeal regarding two of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Senator Murphy has been a leading gun-control advocate since Sandy Hook. 

 

About Sandy Hook Promise

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a non-partisan national nonprofit formed and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  Based in Newtown, Connecticut, SHP’s sole purpose is to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens so that no other parents experience the senseless, horrific loss of their child.  SHP delivers, at no cost, four Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults to recognize signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help before it is too late.  SHP’s Know the Signs programs have helped stop a school shooting, multiple suicide and firearm threats, while also intervening to help individuals get mental health assistance.  Additionally, SHP advocates for sensible state and federal violence prevention policy in the areas of mental health and wellness identification, intervention and treatment as well as firearm access and storage. To bring SHP’s Know the Signs programs to your school or community or help advocate for sensible policy, visit sandyhookpromise.org.

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Sandy Hook Promise Calls On Senate to Pass Two Urgent Measures: Closing the Terror Gap and Enacting Background Checks for Gun Owners

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Sandy Hook Promise Calls On Senate to Pass Two Urgent Measures: Closing the Terror Gap and Enacting Background Checks for Gun Owners

 

Sandy Hook Promise Praises the Senate Floor Filibuster

 

Washington. D.C. – Sandy Hook Promise calls on the members of the Senate to pass two common sense measures regarding gun violence prevention. Thanks to Senator Chris Murphy’s work on the Senate floor last night, which ended with an emotional appeal regarding two of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, Republicans agreed to compromise on the matters of gun safety and the prevention of gun violence.

 

Now the Senate faces a historic vote on closing the terror gap and universal background checks.  Since Sandy Hook, the Senate has had many opportunities to pass both of these measures that would have prevented countless acts of violence since. In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, the Senate has another chance to finally come together to do the responsible thing and close these dangerous loopholes in our gun laws and prevent future gun tragedies from happening.

 

Nicole Hockley, one of the co-founders of SHP commented on Senator Chris Murphy’s work: "Since the murder of my son Dylan, his classmates and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, our Senators have had so many opportunities to act and close dangerous loopholes in our gun laws and save lives. Now, after yet another preventable tragedy has taken innocent lives and destroyed families, the Senate again has an opportunity to act and to do the right thing. I ask our Senators - no, I beg them - please come together and pass legislation to close the terror gap and enact universal background checks. Our country and our children need you.  Please don't let us down again. Too many innocent lives are at stake."

 

 

About Sandy Hook Promise

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a non-partisan national nonprofit formed and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  Based in Newtown, Connecticut, SHP’s sole purpose is to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens so that no other parents experience the senseless, horrific loss of their child.  SHP delivers, at no cost, four Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults to recognize signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help before it is too late.  SHP’s Know the Signs programs have helped stop a school shooting, multiple suicide and firearm threats, while also intervening to help individuals get mental health assistance.  Additionally, SHP advocates for sensible state and federal violence prevention policy in the areas of mental health and wellness identification, intervention and treatment as well as firearm access and storage. To bring SHP’s Know the Signs programs to your school or community or help advocate for sensible policy, visit sandyhookpromise.org.

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TODAY: Senators will vote on lifesaving gun safety measures! Call and urge them to vote YES on the Feinstein and Murphy Amendments.

We're just hours from today's Senate vote at 5:30 p.m. EDT on lifesaving gun safety measures – and right now we don't have the votes we need to win. Calling your senators now could make the difference.

We must send a strong, clear signal before it's too late: We demand action to make our communities safer from gun violence. Please call your senators right this minute and urge them to vote to help prevent more tragedies:

Capitol switchboard
(202) 224-3121

Mark Barden remembers how intimidated he felt when he first started talking to lawmakers after Daniel was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. Please don't let that stop you. We put together a few notes to help you during your quick call:

  • Start by telling them your name and that you're a constituent.
  • Let them know you support the measures from Sen. Murphy and Sen. Feinstein to strengthen the background checks system and ban individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying firearms.
  • Tell them too many families have been torn apart by gun violence, and you're counting on them to vote yes to make our communities safer.

Once you've made your calls, use this link to report back and let us know you called: http://action.sandyhookpromise.org/content_item/senatevotecalls

Thank you so much. We've been asking a lot of you, but we have to act before the next tragedy devastates another community and breaks the hearts of more families.

Sen. Chris Murphy Ends 15-hour Filibuster With Emotional Tribute to Two Sandy Hook Shooting Victims

Thanks to Senator Chris Murphy's work on the Senate floor last night, Republicans agreed to hold a vote on closing the terror gap and universal background checks.

Sen. Murphy ended with an emotional appeal regarding two of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013:

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