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Mother of Sandy Hook victim calls Michigan shooting a 'wake-up call' for American gun owners

National Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence - Washington, DC
The Washington Post via Getty Images
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The Washington Post
A vigil for victims of gun violence was held in December 2013 in Washington, D.C., just prior to the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Nine years after 26 people were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, American schoolchildren still live with the threat of gun violence. On Nov. 30, there was another school shooting, this time in Oxford, Michigan. Since then, there’s been a wave of threats against schools across Connecticut.

Nicole Hockley lost her son Dylan in the Sandy Hook school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012. Her other son Jake attended the school and survived.

The Dec. 14 date – and the Oxford shooting – force her to relive the past.

“I think it’s no surprise that I suffer from PTSD, so I have an immediate reaction whenever a mass shooting takes place,” Hockley said.

But once the emotional trauma subsided, her feelings about Oxford quickly evolved.

“I have moved very swiftly from sadness and trauma and grief into anger because this is such a preventable act,” Hockley said.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, allegedly shot and killed four people and wounded seven others at Oxford High School two weeks ago. Crumbley’s parents face criminal involuntary manslaughter charges because they bought the gun that wasn’t stored properly.

Hockley, CEO of the organization Sandy Hook Promise, has devoted much of her time to gun violence prevention since the Newtown tragedy. She looks at the Oxford shooting as a “wake-up call” for gun owners in America.

“There are consequences for actions, or a lack of action, so if you’re not taking safety seriously and, because of your negligence, a criminal act or a suicide takes place, then you’re going to be held accountable,” Hockley said.

She wants federal lawmakers to pass something that Connecticut already has: Ethan’s Law. It’s an initiative for safe gun storage – regardless of whether a gun is loaded – put together after a 15-year-old from Guilford named Ethan Song was accidentally shot and killed by his friend. Hockley doesn’t view the law as a slight to gun owners. If anything, she feels it encourages responsible ownership. “This isn’t an anti-gun movement,” Hockley said. “This is a pro-safety movement.”

While Ethan’s Law may be one way for Americans to tackle gun violence, another is teaching communities to “know the signs.” It’s something Sandy Hook Promise stresses in its training programs.

“I’m going to keep doing this work, frankly, until I’ve put myself out of business because we’ve stopped school shootings,” Hockley said.

She said that Sandy Hook Promise has intervened in 2,700 mental health episodes and stopped at least seven school shootings from happening.

Part of how that’s accomplished is the receipt of anonymous tips from people who may observe suspicious behaviors. Any concerned citizen can access the “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System” at www.sandyhookpromise.org.

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