Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Speaking out for the first time since the deadly shooting at Sandy
Hook Elementary School, parents of some of the children who were killed
called Monday for a national dialogue on guns, mental health and school
safety, in hopes of sparing other families the anguish they have
"I'm Ana's mom," Nelba Marquez-Greene said at an emotional news
conference inside a chilly gymnasium at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown. "On
Friday, Dec. 14th, I put two children on the bus, and only one came
home. I pray that no mother, father, grandparent or caregiver of
children ever has to go through this pain."
* * *
"We have a responsibility to make something happen. We want Newtown to
be remembered for change, not for this tragedy," said Tom Bittman, one
of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise. "We want the Sandy Hook Elementary School
shootings to be recalled as the turning point, when we brought our
community, and communities across the nation, together and set a real
course for change."
But defining that change has proven difficult. Organizers of the group
had hoped to quickly identify specific proposals that would reduce gun
violence and make schools safer. But several said Monday that quick-fix
solutions do not exist, and that real change would require a
multifaceted approach fueled by a degree of thoughtful deliberation that
has been lacking in politically charged debates.
* * *
[T]he urgency of making progress this time was written on the pained
faces of parents, who clutched photographs of the children they buried
weeks ago, and winced as their spouses spoke of all they have lost.
* * *
Jeremy Richman, whose daughter Avielle, 6, was killed, called for a
deeper understanding of mental illness, and said he and his wife,
Jennifer, had created the Avielle Foundation, to combine behavioral and
biochemical mental-health research.
"With this foundation, it is our hope to honor our beautiful
Avielle," he said, his voice breaking with emotion as he said her name,
"and all the others that have fallen to such senseless violence."
* * *
During the news conference, which drew scores of journalists from
across the country, Nicole Hockley and Nelba Marquez-Greene read the
"Sandy Hook Promise" that the group is encouraging people to endorse. In
part, it reads:
"Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not. … This is a promise to
truly honor the lives lost by turning our tragedy into a moment of
transformation, to be open to all possibilities … to have the
conversations on all the issues, conversations where listening is as
important as speaking. … This is a promise to do everything in our power
to be remembered not as the town filled with grief and victims; but as
the place where real change began." The full promise is available at
http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/mission. (Sandy Hook Promise)
Organizers said they are emboldened by the outpouring of support from
around the globe in the days and weeks after the shootings.
"We truly have millions of people who have responded. Millions of
people who just want to do something," said Tim Makris, a co-founder of
Sandy Hook Promise. "The genuine care that people everywhere have for
each other and their desire to do something tells us that the goals of
Sandy Hook Promise are within our reach."
The conversations the group is promoting will include a discussion of the thorny issue of gun control.
"Some of us who came together to start Sandy Hook Promise are gun
owners. We hunt, we target shoot, we protect our homes, we're
collectors, we teach our sons and daughters how to use guns safely,"
Bittman said. "We're not afraid of a national conversation … about
responsibility and accountability. And the thing is: We know there are
millions of people in this nation who agree with this."
While the group did not have specific proposals Monday, organizers
said they intend to develop and promote specific recommendations that
they will ask Americans to get behind.
"Doing nothing is no longer an option," Bittman said. "The bottom line is we must act. We can't let this happen again."
Newtown High School students make the pledge.