Newtown, CT, October 2, 2017 - This morning we woke to learn about what is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. A shooter opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, NV, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others. There are no words to describe the sadness and pain we feel with the news of yet another horrific mass shooting that has claimed innocent lives and left loved ones devastated by loss, their lives forever changed. We stand with the victims’ families and survivors and are ready to give them support and compassion as they navigate the difficult path ahead.
Gun violence is far too common in our country - destroying lives, families and communities. Though we can take action to prevent this, most people don’t and that inaction leads to more death. How much longer can we accept this as part of life in America? Days like today remind us how quickly life can change, but regardless we should always expect to be safe at a concert, a movie, at church, and in school.
Nobody is born evil. Nobody is born a killer. They are influenced by the environment around them, and sadly, turn to violence when fear and anger become too much to manage. Just as environment can create killers, it can also prevent them from ever reaching that point. It is for this very reason that we must create and pass policy and programs that identify and intervene on individuals before they become killers.
Over the past five years, we have witnessed how we generally respond (or don’t) as a country to mass shootings like Las Vegas. It’s usually a cyclical conversation, starting with debate between banning assault weapons or arming more Americans, moving then to a focus on mental illness and “good guys vs bad guys” and finally to policy proposals that may relate directly to what occurred, but possibly not, and no federal legislation changes will pass. By the end of next week this story will be almost gone as if it never happened, even while those most impacted are still reeling from shock and grief.
We are asking Americans, in the name of these victims and to protect those still living, do something – let’s move from rhetoric and focusing on just “the gun” to more focus on “the shooter” and steps we can be taking as a country to identify and stop them before it’s too late.
What can you do now?
1. Help pass federal and state policy: We need policy that will help us intervene with identified at-risk individuals and ensure they are prevented from accessing or purchasing firearms until they are deemed fit. This includes sensible legislation like Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
2. Learn the Signs of Violence: We need programs and training to help people know what to look for and understand the signs given off by at-risk individuals. We need to teach people how to intervene and get help, so that legislation can be enforced effectively. Typically, although more information is needed on this tragic event, mass shooting are planned in advance, usually for around six months or more. It is highly likely in the case of the Las Vegas shooter that there were plans and missed signs.
3. National Mental Health & Wellness: We need more funding and support to ensure mental health and wellness needs are met – this includes social and emotional learning, trauma intervention and mandatory treatment by healthcare providers.
4. Get involved: Most people don’t think about gun violence prevention before something happens to their family or to their community. We need people to understand that doing nothing is not a choice, especially when the actions they can take are so easy – from calling on their legislators to take action. bringing the training to their schools and community, and/or getting involved with a gun violence prevention organization.
We need politicians in D.C. and our states to show leadership and take action. Today IS the time to have these conversations if we are going to prevent the shootings of tomorrow. Inaction leads to more Americans dying.
We must put aside our differences and focus on our shared values, community and common humanity. We must all stand together to take real action and work for an end to gun violence and create a safer America.
Our hearts are with the families and community of Las Vegas during this difficult time. We wrap our arms around them as they deal with the pain and sorrow today, and in the days and years to come. We promise we will continue to take action to prevent tragedies and ask all other Americans to make that same promise, and then take action to deliver.
About Sandy Hook Promise
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org or call 203-304-9780.
Dini Von Mueffling Communications