Officials and family members in the United States are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, one of the deadliest in modern US history.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden used the occasion to urge lawmakers to pass legislation banning “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines”, similar to those used in the shooting.
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The attack took place on December 14, 2012 and killed 20 young children and six school staff.
“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem,” Biden said in a statement. “We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again.”
In the 10 years since the deadly attack in Newtown, Connecticut, gun violence and school shootings have continued to plague the US. In May, an attack on an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead. As with the Sandy Hook shooting, the gunman used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.
Ten years ago, 26 Newtown families said goodbye to their loved ones for the last time.
20 first-graders and 6 educators died at the hands of a lone gunman.
We still struggle to fathom such loss. But in this darkness, may we find the strength to finish the work left undone.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 14, 2022
Following the attack, survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting voiced support for the victims in Uvalde over social media.
“I’m sick at what you are going through today,” tweeted Mary Ann Jacob, who was working as a librarian at Sandy Hook when the 20-year-old gunman attacked. “I am transported back to the firehouse that we were brought to after the shooting at our school almost 10 years ago. I’m so sorry those deaths did not change our world.”
So far in 2022, the Gun Violence Archive has tallied 628 mass shootings in the US, defined as four or more people shot in a single event, not including the gunman. Of those, 36 were mass murders, where four or more people were killed.
They include incidents like a November shooting in a Walmart break room in Chesapeake, Virginia that left six victims dead and a July shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Seven people, including a local synagogue teacher, the parents of a two-year-old child and a Mexican grandfather visiting his family, died in that shooting.
In November, the gunman who carried out a 2018 shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That attack killed 17 people and injured 17 others.
Lawmakers have pushed for more robust changes to the country’s gun laws in the aftermath of high-profile attacks, with access to firearms frequently cited as a factor in the prevalence of mass shootings. But those efforts have largely failed to move forward over Republican opposition.
One exception was a bill passed in June following the Uvalde shooting. Lawmakers came together to expand background checks, provide funding for mental health facilities, and extend federal aid to states implementing “red flag” laws, designed to facilitate court orders to temporarily remove guns from individuals deemed dangerous.
While lawmakers touted the law as the most ambitious in decades, critics pointed out that the bill does not include a ban on semiautomatic “assault” rifles or mandatory background checks for all gun buyers, both seen as baseline demands by gun reform advocates.
“I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America,” said Biden in his statement on Wednesday. “Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear.”