Sandy Hook Shooting 10-Year Anniversary


December 14th marked the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 students and 6 staff members. The tragedy devastated the victims’ families, the community, and the nation. Many called for much-needed changes to prevent more school shootings from occurring in the future, and to a certain extent, change did come.

It started with public opinion. A poll done in 2013 by the Pew Research Center, the year after the Sandy Hook shooting, found that 81% of Americans at that time supported some type of background check before owning a firearm. In 2022, an act called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which includes multiple measures for the prevention of school shootings, was approved and signed into law. The first beneficial aspect of this act was that it increased government funding for states to enforce Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Extreme Risk Protection Orders, otherwise known as “red flag laws,” allow firearms to be temporarily restricted from individuals the courts have found to be a danger to themselves and others. Another benefit of this act is the increase in funding for mental health services in schools. There has also been legislation throughout both Democratic and Republican states to enhance the review process for buying a firearm.

Another development since the Sandy Hook shooting is a greater emphasis on safety in the design of schools. The rebuilding of Sandy Hook has implemented new architectural designs to try to prevent shootings, such as bulletproof walls and windows, classrooms far from points of entry, and security doors and locks. While these designs are a revolutionary safety improvement, it is simply unfeasible to make these changes in every school in America. Increased police and security presence is another common measure taken to increase school safety, but its effectiveness has been debated heatedly. Critics argue that police presence in schools can actually have negative long-term effects on Black, brown, and disabled students.

From the time of the Sandy Hook shooting to now, out of 19 bills proposed by the Senate and 25 by the House regarding gun control and school safety, only one has been passed. In that same time frame, NBC News has reported 54 school shootings resulting in 101 deaths. And the number would probably be higher if not for COVID-19, which kept kids out of school for parts of 2020 and 2021. Despite the steps forward we have made, there is seemingly no progress. Legislation must continue to be written to finally put a stop to school shootings.