Republicans in Congress ignore anniversary of Sandy Hook massacre

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In the eight years since the massacre, Republicans have refused to pass legislation to prevent mass shootings from being committed again and again.

December 12 marks the eighth anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 — and not a single Republican in Congress had a word to say about it.

The shooting at the elementary school claimed the lives of 20 first-grade students and six teachers.

Republican lawmakers were, however, vocal on other topics.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to Twitter Monday to complain about a Virginia school board voting to rename an elementary school currently named after Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and a slaveowner.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted a call for action to ban Facebook, Google, and Twitter from stealing data.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) stumped for her campaign for reelection on social media Monday, tweeting, "Democrats want to take us on the path to socialism. I'm running to defend the American Dream & save our country."

House Republicans were similarly silent Monday about the 2012 massacre.

Many Democratic lawmakers memorialized the anniversary on Twitter.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut tweeted condolences for the victims' families Monday morning: "We mark this painful 8th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook with renewed resolve—to honor the beautiful lives lost with positive action, & redouble efforts against gun violence under a new administration."

In a series of several tweets, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted a remembrance and a call to action, noting, "It's been eight years since the devastating mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My heart is with every family remembering a loved one today. We must honor the lives we lost that day with action."

He added, "Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, there have been countless more lives lost to gun violence in America. There’s no excuse for Congress’ failure to pass meaningful reforms that could reduce shootings and save lives. We must summon the courage to do better."

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont also called out Congress for its inaction after the 2012 shooting:"Today marks the eighth year anniversary since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am thinking of all the families that had someone taken from them on that terrible day."

He added that, "as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013, I advanced 4 bills to reduce gun violence, including universal background check legislation. All were defeated on the Senate floor due to Republican opposition."

The bills that Senate Republicans refused to support included legislation mandating universal background checks as well as an assault weapons ban.

Leahy continued, "This day reminds me of Congress' failure to respond. The consequences of inaction have been devastating for families and communities across the country. The next Congress must take action. We cannot wait for another life to be lost."

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted, "Today marks 8 years since a gunman stole the lives of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary. May their memory, and the memory of the thousands of victims who’ve come after, be a blessing and a call to action to end gun violence."

Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, federal gun control legislation hasn't changed much, according to Forbes, and gun sales continue to rise.

The Gun Violence Archive notes that there have been 592 mass shootings in 2020, up 41% from 2019. According to the Nation, the Sandy Hook shooting was just one of 16 mass shootings in 2012.

In February 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would close loopholes and require background checks for all gun purchases.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has successfully stonewalled a vote on the bill for nearly two years.

In 2020, gun sales have spiked to record levels amid the coronavirus and even calls for supporters of Donald Trump to arm themselves. Late Sunday night, Trump supporter Lin Wood encouraged his Twitter followers to stock up on "Second Amendment supplies" for after the electoral college vote, tweeting, "Make sure you have PLENTY of water, food, flashlights & batteries, candles, radio, 2nd Amendment supplies, & a plan to meet with leaders of your communities."

This year, support for stricter gun control legislation is at the lowest level it's been since 2016, with only 57% of Americans supporting such measures.

Nonetheless, in his statement marking Monday's anniversary, President-elect Joe Biden pledged to take action: "Eight years later, there have been plenty of thoughts and prayers, but we know that is not enough. Together with you and millions of our fellow Americans of every background all across our nation, we will fight to end this scourge on our society and enact common sense reforms that are supported by a majority of Americans and that will save countless lives."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.