Newtown, Conn. Group Launches Anti-Violence Initiative

The launch of Sandy Hook Promise comes as Washington lawmakers meet on gun control in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school

Monday, Jan 14, 2013  |  Updated 9:59 AM PDT
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Newtown, Conn. Group Launches Anti-Violence Initiative

AP

A man reads messages on a large poster board at a makeshift memorial near the main intersection of the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town continues to cope in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. The gunman, Adam Lanza, walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Residents of Newtown, Conn., have promised to honor the lives of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School a month ago and are spearheading a national effort to ensure a tragedy like this never again happen.

Parents of several victims not only attended the news conference announcing Sandy Hook Promise today but also held photos of their children and spoke.

Nicole Hockley, the mother of victim Dylan Hockley, said she does not want to be someone who shares her experience and consoles another victim's family because she does not want there to be another shooting like the one that took her 6-year-old son.

She said it will take a nation of communities to achieve true transformation.

“I am … proud to stand for my son Dylan and pledge my enduring support to this promise,” she said. “This is a promise to turn the conversations into action. Each child, every human life is filled with promise."

Nelba Marquez-Greene, holding a photo of her slain 6-year-old daughter Ana, said she put two children on the school bus on the Friday morning of Dec. 14, but only one came home. Faith is helping the family get through tragedy, she said, and they are choosing love as a way to honor their young daughter.

"Love wins. Love wins in Newtown. May love win in America," she said, and she added that the promise residents of Newtown made with the founding of their group is one to support families, neighbors and honor those whose lives were lost.

There is no agenda other than to keep communities safe.

The non-profit organization, formerly called Newtown United, is focused on supporting the victims’ families, the survivors, first responders and teachers and staff of Sandy Hook and the town of Newtown, according to the Web site. They plan to do this by providing support, both financial and service.

Tom Bittman, a cofounder of Sandy Hook Promise, said this grassroots campaign is not just about the families, but about Newtown's community, schools and being remembered for bringing about change.

"We will work for real solutions to make every community safer," he said. "Doing nothing is no longer an option."

The residents also said they are committed to preventing similar tragedies from ever happening again and are asking people from across the country to "make a promise to encourage and support common sense solutions that make their communities and our country safer from acts of violence like that which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012."

Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 and killed 20 first-graders and six women before committing suicide as police arrived. He also killed his mother at their Newtown home before driving to the school and carrying out the massacre.

The killings have sparked debates about gun control and violence prevention across the country. Vice President Joe Biden has been leading a national task force on gun violence and was expected to submit the panel's recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Many are calling for the federal government to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.

On Sunday, the family of Noah Pozner, one of the children killed at the school, sent a list of its proposals to the national task force. They include requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons in their homes if the guns could be accessed by mentally ill or dangerous people, and boosting federal grants for school security reviews.

Pozner's family also is suggesting a new law requiring people to notify police within 24 hours if they know about an imminent threat of harm or death made by a person who has access to guns or explosive devices. Breaking the law would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has created an advisory commission that will review and recommend changes to state laws and policies on gun control, school safety measures and mental health services in the wake of the Sandy Hook rampage.

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