‘Con­necti­cut ef­fect’ still rolling strong

The or­ga­ni­za­tion (Sandy Hook Prom­ise) is an ex­am­ple of de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­vert grief into a pow­er­ful force for change.

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - OPINION -

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 in the days 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 peer-based 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 Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion lob­by­ist in Wis­con­sin in 2013 told sup­port­ers, “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?

The process is just get­ting more ro­bust. And it’s not just “the Con­necti­cut ef­fect.” More than 5,100 peo­ple from across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the SHP web­site, have signed up as Prom­ise Lead­ers as the group’s ef­forts are rec­og­nized and are tak­ing root na­tion­wide.

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.”

That’s prom­ise we all should make — and live by.

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