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Among Sandy Hook survivors, Texas school shooting provokes fear and exhaustion

Lamont Press Conference
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Mary Ann Jacob, a survivor of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, spoke in the wake of Tuesday's mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed. Jacob spoke during a news conference at the state Capitol in Hartford on May 25, 2022.

Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is a terrifying reminder for some Connecticut residents.

Mary Ann Jacob was a library aide at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were shot to death.

That day, Jacob said she was huddled in a closet with 18 9-year-olds and three of her colleagues.

“While we keep the families in Uvalde whose children have died in our hearts, please also keep the children and adults who survived in your prayers,” Jacob said. “They too have a long journey ahead. The general cycle of gun violence and the associated trauma with every instance of gunfire impacts children’s abilities to grow, learn and develop.”

Jacob said she’s surprised that almost 10 years after the attack, people are still debating gun restrictions. She was among a group of lawmakers and anti-gun violence advocates invited to speak to reporters on the steps of the state Capitol in Hartford on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, who also spoke at the Capitol, represents Newtown as part of her congressional district. Back on Dec. 14, 2012, Hayes was teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury.

“When my kids were asking me, ‘Why is this happening and what are the adults going to do about it?’ I felt so completely helpless having those conversations with my students,” Hayes recalled. “And now as a member of Congress – in a position to answer all of the questions they asked me and do something about it – I felt equally as helpless.”

Hayes said the U.S. House has passed gun legislation, including expanded background checks, but that bill and others have stalled repeatedly in the Senate.

Gov. Ned Lamont says there would be less gun violence if federal gun laws resembled Connecticut’s laws.

“That AR-15 used in Buffalo would not be able to be purchased here. We would have background checks, but it doesn’t work if we’re doing this on our own,” Lamont said, referring to the May 14 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people dead. “We can make a difference, but we need the federal government to look up and see what’s worked in Connecticut and what can work elsewhere – what a difference that can make.”

Lamont hailed several measures recently taken at the state level, including the creation of a local gun tracing task force as ways Connecticut continues to combat violence.

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