‘ Connecticut effect’ still rolling strong
Sandy Hook Promise, a group of people devastated by the unspeakable tragedy of Dec. 14, 2012 at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, has channeled its energy into an effective offensive against gun violence. The organization is an example of determination to convert grief into a powerful force for change.
Formed after the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults on that day, the group has worked hard to educate and legislate in the arenas of gun safety and mental health, the two inextricably combined factors that converged that day in Newtown, and, alas, in the countless mass shootings that have plagued America since.
Their influence will carry even more weight now in the form of a $ 500,000 federal grant to Connecticut that the state will use to further its programs, including how to recognize and address red- flag behavior among youngsters.
The grant will help with teaching some 116,000 students statewide about the organization’s peerbased violence- prevention program.
The money comes from the $ 100 million STOP School Violence Act — a piece of legislation SHP was influential in shaping — that was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.
The Dec. 14 tragedy was one that helped galvanize action not only in Connecticut but across the country to demand more attention to the issue of gun safety and particularly to the availability of semi- automatic weapons — designed for the battlefield — to the public at large.
So forceful, in fact, were the reverberations from Connecticut that a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Wisconsin said in 2013, “We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be sort of delayed as the ‘ Connecticut effect’ has to sort of go through the process.”
Sort of go through the process?
Well, the “process” is only getting stronger. One of SHP’s programs is called “Know the Signs” and it educates young people on how to identify atrisk peers, support them but also to report at- risk behavior.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, of course, has been front and center in Connecticut and nationally as a champion of gun safety. It’s worth noting that among even the governor’s harshest critics there is admiration for his actions on that terrible December day when it was he who emerged from the school to face parents and tell them their children would not be coming home.
On Malloy’s watch, Connecticut became a leader in gun safety legislation, including the banning of weapons like the one use at Sandy Hook. And he has been an ardent supporter of SHP.
According to the organization’s website, nearly 3.1 million people have made the Sandy Hook Promise: “I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities.”
It’s a promise we all should live by.
The organization ( Sandy Hook Promise) is an example of determination to convert grief into a powerful force for change.