Washington – Gun-control advocates have marked the two-year anniversary of the massacre of first graders and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a report that says there have been 95 school shootings since the Newtown tragedy.
The report by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said school shootings in the last two years have caused 44 deaths and 78 non-fatal injuries and have occurred in 33 states.
More than a third of the shootings happened after a confrontation or verbal argument intensified.
The report detailed a shooting in a Houston, Texas, school that occurred after two young men bumped into each other in a doorway and another that happened after an argument over a video game. Children also bring guns to school to commit suicide, or attempt suicide, and to carry out cold-blooded acts of vengeance, the report said.
The report was released at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to commemorate next Sunday’s anniversary of the Newtown tragedy and to press Congress to act on gun control measures.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, said “We do not send children to school to learn how to hide from gunmen.”
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, who represents Newtown in Congress, said “these numbers reveal a disturbing reality and reinforce the need for common-sense gun reforms.
Esty also urged those who wanted to honor the anniversary of the Newtown shootings to respect the community’s wishes that they stay away and instead join the #HonorWithAction campaign that promotes volunteerism in the name of the 20 slain children and six educators who died.
Newtown Action Alliance will bring about 50 people to Washington Wednesday to bring the #HonorWithAction campaign to the nation’s capital and meet with lawmakers over gun control.
Sen. Chris Murphy. D-Conn., said, “Congress is complicit in these murders if we continue to sit back and do nothing to reverse this trend.”
“The most powerful memory to the Newtown victims on the two-year anniversary would be to approve common-sense measures stopping this epidemic of gun violence, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “This report should be a call to action.”
Rep Jim Himes, D-4th District, said he was heartened that people have not forgotten the tragedy in Newtown, which prompted new calls for gun control in what was called “the Connecticut effect.”
“We have not drifted,” Himes said.
Gun control advocates want Congress to require expanded FBI background checks on gun purchasers. They are also seeking to tighten federal regulations on gun trafficking and ban “straw” purchases by those who resell weapons to people who are barred by law from owning a gun.
But Republicans, who are less likely than Democrats to support gun control, will control both houses of Congress next year. And a gun control bill that would expand background checks has already faltered in the Democratic-controlled Senate of the 113th Congress.
Opponents of new federal gun laws say the ones we already have are sufficient to combat gun violence if they were fully enforced and view new attempts at gun control as a violation of 2nd Amendment rights. The National Rifle Association and other gun groups have a strong influence on many members of Congress.
Murphy said the campaign for tougher federal gun-control laws could take years, pointing out the it took 10 years for Congress to approve the landmark gun control legislation called the Brady Bill after President Reagan and his spokesman, Jim Brady, were shot by a gunman.
“Our children are facing it every day. When will we?” a voice on the video asks.
Ashley Cech, the daughter of Sandy Hook librarian Yvonne Cech, also spoke at the press conference. She described how she learned of the attack by shooter Adam Lanza through a text message from a friend, and how her mother shepherded 18 students into a closet and barricaded the door with a file cabinet after the first shots rang out. Yvonne Cech and the students were unharmed.
“She did everything to in her power to protect the 4th graders who were in her care,” Ashley Cech said.
Gun control advocates have planned dozens of vigils across the nation to commemorate the anniversary of Newtown’s shootings.
But the vigil with the highest profile will be at Washington’s National Cathedral on Thursday.