The children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 should have spent this year thinking about college, taking their SATs, getting their driver’s licenses, and maybe attending their first prom, the Associated Press reports. Instead, the families of the 20 students and six educators slain in the mass shooting will mark a decade without them Wednesday. December is a difficult month for many in Newtown, the Connecticut suburb where holiday season joy is tempered by heartbreak around the anniversary of the nation’s worst grade school shooting. For former Sandy Hook students who survived the massacre, guilt and anxiety can intensify. For the parents, it can mean renewed grief, even as they continue to fight on their lost children’s behalf. In February, Sandy Hook families reached a $73 million settlement with the gunmaker Remington, which made the shooter’s rifle. Juries in Connecticut and Texas ordered the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $1.4 billion for promoting lies that the massacre was a hoax.
After the massacre, Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden were among many victims’ relatives who turned to activism. They helped form Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit group that works to prevent suicides and mass shootings. Hockley, who lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, and Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, both find it difficult to believe their children have been gone for a decade. “For me, Dylan is still this 6-year-old boy, forever frozen in time,” Hockley said. “This journey that we’ve been on the last 10 years, it doesn’t feel like a decade and it doesn’t feel like 10 years since I last held my son, either.” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said the shooting gave new energy to the gun-control movement, with numerous groups forming to demand action.
“In the 10 years leading up to Sandy Hook, the gun lobby controlled Washington. Anything they wanted they got,” said Murphy. “After Sandy Hook happened, we started building what I would describe as the modern anti-gun violence movement. During the next 10 years, there was essentially gridlock. The gun lobby no longer got what they wanted, but unfortunately in Washington we weren’t getting what we wanted either.”