Ten years after the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were fatally shot, former President Barack Obama called it “a visceral blow,” remembering the tragedy in a statement shared to social media.
“I consider December 14th, 2012 the single darkest day of my presidency,” the former president wrote in the statement. “The news from Sandy Hook Elementary was devastating, a visceral blow, and like so many others, I felt not just sorrow but anger at a world that could allow such things to happen.”
Elsewhere in his statement, Obama said the families impacted by the shooting have “borne that weight with strength and grace,” adding that they’ve “drawn purpose from tragedy — doing everything in their power to make sure other children and families never have to experience what they and their loved ones did.”
But that work is “far from over,” the former president added, noting that, in 2022, not a single week has gone by without a mass shooting somewhere in America.
“But of late, I’ve sensed that slowly, steadily, the tide is turning; that real change is possible,” Obama added. “And I feel that way in no small part because of the families of Sandy Hook Elementary.”
Shortly after the 2021 shooting, Obama addressed the entire nation from the White House.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies over the past few years,” he said at the time. “And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America that doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”
“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” he continued, becoming emotional as tears filled his eyes.
Since that day, gun violence has proliferated in the U.S., though lawmakers have made some recent gains when it comes to regulation, such as passing the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” which enacts commonsense gun laws and provides funding for mental health support and anti-violence programs.
The measure, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in June, “enhances certain restrictions and penalties on firearms purchases; promotes evidence-based best practices for school safety; authorizes grants to expand access to mental health services; and appropriates emergency funding for mental health resources and school safety measures,” according to a White House briefing.
Biden who was serving as vice president when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, said in his own statement on the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy that the nation “should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem.”
Noting the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Biden added that more “must” be done, specifically saying he was “determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America.”
“We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again,” Biden said in his statement. “We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul ten years ago to turn their pain into purpose.”