Gun violence still the same after Sandy Hook school shooting


The December 2012 shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary was supposed to be a turning point.

Lawmakers promised major gun reforms. Commentators focused on gun violence in a way they hadn’t before. Regular people, including parents newly afraid to send their kids to school, began to organize.

“I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence,” President Barack Obama told the nation two months later. “But this time is different.”

In some senses, those words proved true. Those in the anti-gun violence movement point to Sandy Hook as a crossroads, an event that reshaped how Americans view the issue and created a public appetite for action. According to Gallup polling, the share of Americans who favor stricter gun laws spiked after Newtown and currently stands nearly as high as it has in 30 years.

“I think everything has changed since Sandy Hook,” said Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence. “Sandy Hook was one of those watershed moments that taught us that gun violence can happen anywhere, that it doesn’t just happen in cities, that you can’t escape it just by buying your way into a good neighborhood, that this is a pervasive public health crisis that can happen anywhere.”

In other ways, though, the trauma of Sandy Hook failed to yield the type of sweeping change some had hoped for and predicted. While Connecticut and other blue states have tightened their gun laws in the 10 years since, change at the federal level has come slowly. Meanwhile, gun violence has increased nationwide, and mass shootings in schools and other public settings remain distressingly common.

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