11 Moments Since Sandy Hook That Show What Has & Hasn't Changed
Even with the astounding rate at which mass shootings happen in the United States, the city of Newtown, Connecticut and the date of Dec. 14, 2012 still tear hearts across the country. On that day, Sandy Hook Elementary School became the site of a massacre, and that tragedy leaves us with many things to remember now, five years after Sandy Hook.
Twenty kids in the first grade lost their lives that day, along with six of their teachers who were killed while trying to protect them. The school, which was once a place of life and learning, essentially became a living memorial to those whose lives were taken there. The president and vice president, along with the country they led, cried at the loss of life.
While emotions were high then — and have heightened again now, five years after the fact — the tragedy at Sandy Hook did not translate into increased gun control. Mass shootings have not stopped in America, nor does it appear likely that it will. On this, the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, we, of course, have to remember the victims. Beyond that, though, there is a lot more to keep in mind.
1. Sandy Hook Launched A Renewed Push For Gun Control
President Obama and Vice President Biden tried to ram through additional gun control measures after Sandy Hook, and for a while there was some optimism that perhaps, just perhaps a tragedy of such incomprehensible magnitude would tug at the hearts of even the staunchest gun rights advocates. Five years later, Biden is still condoling with the victims' families, and gun control advocates are still making their voices heard — sometimes with the immediacy brought on by a recent, devastating shooting, and sometimes without.
2. The NRA & The GOP Blocked That Push
Congress didn't enact any meaningful gun control legislation after Sandy Hook. In fact, Congress hasn't enacted any meaningful gun control legislation in the five years since Sandy Hook. For one, the Republican Party, which has controlled at least one house of Congress since Sandy Hook, is tightly linked with the National Rifle Association. Furthermore, the Republican base gets so fired up over Second Amendment rights that Republicans in Congress have blocked dozens of efforts to enforce stricter gun control.
3. The Same Justifications For Blocking Gun Control Keep Coming Up
Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. When the government denies its citizens the rights to have guns, it's a turn towards fascism. Criminals who obtain guns illegally would do that even if guns were controlled. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Gun control doesn't work. Any American can probably recite the reasons to prevent gun control because of the frequency with which the right trots them out; they're all essentially cliches at this point, but that doesn't make them true.
4. At Least 1,767 People Have Died In Mass Shootings Since Sandy Hook
As of early November, there had been 1,552 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. 1,767 people lost their lives in those shootings. 6,227 people were injured in those shootings. That means that on average, a mass shooting happened on more than four out of every five days in America since the day that those 20 kids and seven adults lost their lives.
5. Gun Control Has Advanced — Marginally
In the face of Congress' inaction, governments at the state and local level have enacted some gun control measures. To their credit, gun stores across the country have even united to try to help prevent suicide. There have been laws in more than two dozen states passed to keep guns away from convicted domestic abusers, and 10 states have expanded their background checks. These, however, are small steps forward, and can only do so much to prevent gun violence without action from the federal government and fundamental changes in the pervasive gun culture in America.
6. Guns Rights Advocates Have Also Had Victories
In 2015, Republicans in Congress blocked a measure that would have prevented terrorism suspects from buying guns. They also blocked a provision that called for enhancing background checks at gun shows. As of 2014, 70 state laws loosening gun control had already been passed since the Sandy Hook tragedy. If Newtown did indeed cause a legislative change in the way the country regulates guns, it certainly wasn't the change that the victims' families and loved ones would have wanted.
7. The Isla Vista Happened Since Then
Just to pick one mass shooting, 2014 witnessed the deaths of six young people near the University of California, Santa Barbara. The shooter, despite a history of mental illness, was able to acquire several guns and enough ammunition to carry out an attack that he had been planning for a year.
8. Orlando Happened Since Then
Just to pick another, 2016 witnessed what was up until that point the deadliest mass shooting in American history. 50 people died at Pulse Orlando gay nightclub on the night of June 12, 2016. It happened to be Latin Night, and so most of the victims were either LGBTQ, Latino, or both. The safe space for all created by the cocoon of a gay nightclub was forever shattered for the survivors of this heartbreaking attack.
9. Las Vegas Happened Since Then — And What Else Will Follow?
Perhaps the most devastating shooting since Sandy Hook — if such a judgement can be made — took place in Las Vegas in October, when a single gunman shot thousands of rounds into crowds of concertgoers at a music festival, killing 58 and injuring almost 500. This still only provoked calls for "thoughts and prayers" from leading guns rights advocates.
10. Anti-Gun Control Politicians Won't Budge
Whenever someone actually studies the issue, the studies find that gun control does work. When you limit access to guns, there is less gun violence. In countries with stricter gun laws, there is less gun violence. This may seem like a no-brainer, and it's certainly been borne out by mountains of evidence. Still, some conservative politicians won't budge.
11. Gun Control Advocates Want Them Voted Out
The organizations fighting for common sense gun control will keep fighting, and victims' families and loved ones will probably keep organizing like those in Sandy Hook did to form Sandy Hook Promise. But one of the only ways to actually enact gun control in America is to vote for politicians at every level of government who will vote for it.
Think about the Sandy Hook massacre today, and let it affect you as it will. Think about the victims, and think about the people left behind. Tragedies like this may get farther away in time, but they never get any less powerful.