What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

To this Sandy Hook mom, ‘every day we waste, more people are dying’

For many parents of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun violence and how to prevent it was barely on their radar. Now, five years after 20 children lost their lives, parents are finding ways to cope through education. Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week sits down with Nicole Hockley, who founded Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit that combats gun violence in schools.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Five years ago today, families in Newtown, Connecticut, suffered an unimaginable tragedy. A troubled 20-year-old shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first graders and six educators. Nicole Hockley lost her six-year-old son Dylan that day, and since then has been a strong voice to stop gun violence before it happens.

    Special correspondent Lisa Stark, with our partner Education Week, sat down with Hockley recently to reflect on the last five years.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    When the shooting at Sandy Hook School took place, I knew absolutely nothing about gun violence, or how to prevent it. It was not on my radar in any way, shape or form.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Now, that has become Nicole Hockley’s life mission, after losing her son in the massacre at Sandy Hook.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    I feel it’s my moral responsibility to do this, it’s the only way I can think to honor Dylan. It’s the only way I can think to honor his death and provide his legacy, as well as protect my surviving child.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Hockley’s sons were best buds. Her oldest, Jake, was unharmed that horrible day and is now 13. Dylan is forever a six-year-old first grader.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    He was just pure love. I mean, he was a boy that loved to cuddle, loved a good firm cuddle. And he was just the glue that held our family together. I can’t believe it’s about to be five years since I last hugged D.– I can’t comprehend that.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Yes.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    Probably never will.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Hockley has poured her grief, and anger, into Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit she and other Newtown families started just one month after the killings to fight gun violence.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    I do not want to be someone sharing my experience and consoling another parent next time, I do not want there to be a next time.

  • Lisa Stark:

    These days, Hockley has a different look, but the same determination.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    Sandy Hook Promise exists for one reason, to prevent gun violence. The way we do this is by teaching people how to know the signs of someone who’s at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.

  • Lisa Stark:

    But massacres such as Texas and Las Vegas are constant reminders of how pervasive gun violence is.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    It’s devastating when I hear of another mass shooting, and I won’t lie, it hurts even more when there are children involved, of course. The saddest thing for me, personally, after some of these mass shootings, is when I wait for a day, two days, a week, to hear about the signs and signals that were missed because then I know yet again, this was another preventable act of violence.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Hockley believes there is only one way forward.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    It’s important to re-frame the conversation around gun violence prevention because unfortunately as soon as you mention the word “gun,” people start taking sides. You know, this isn’t about taking away guns, and this isn’t about mental illness either. Once you get past that barrier, then the doors open, but there’s a lot of people that we need to have that conversation with.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Is that a tough space to be in, given how polarized this issue has become?

  • Nicole Hockley:

    It can be tough, but we know that is the right way to do it, and this is something that is going to have a tangible impact. There are 300 million guns in this country and a Second Amendment, thats not going to change.

  • Lisa Stark:

    At its beginning, Hockley and Sandy Hook Promise did try to change gun laws, pushing for universal background checks. When the bill was defeated in the Senate, it was devastating.

    Now, the group is backing extreme risk protection orders, which allow a judge to temporarily ban someone from having guns if they’re a danger to themselves or others.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    I want politicians to not be afraid to have this conversation. There are some special interest lobbyist groups whose voice has too much power and I think politicians should be leaders and listen to the people.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Hockley is also involved in a lawsuit against Remington, the manufacturer of the gun used to kill her son. The lawsuit accuses the company of negligent marketing.

  • Nicole Hockley:

    We see them do advertising directly to potentially violent prone young men using military style messaging and images to say to young men, if you don’t have an AR-15, you’re not a man.

  • Lisa Stark:

    Remington argues that under federal law, gun makers cannot be held liable if someone uses their product in a crime. Despite the stiff odds, Hockley is undeterred.

    I’m going to ask you to look five years ahead, where do you want to be?

  • Nicole Hockley:

    I would love to make Sandy Hook Promise go out of business because were not seeing these deaths happen anymore, but I think that’s unlikely in five years. I know these changes are going to happen, but just not fast enough, and every day that we waste more people are dying, and I will never accept that.

  • Lisa Stark:

    For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Lisa Stark in Newtown, Connecticut.

Listen to this Segment

Latest News