Saturday marked the seven year anniversary of the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed. On social media, users memorialized one of the worst mass shootings on record with photos of the victims and ruminations on the lives they lost. The tragedy was one of the morning's top trending topics.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place on Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. At the time, a 20-year-old gunman rampaged through the school with an AR-15-style assault rifle, and ten magazines with 30 rounds each. He murdered his mother, 20 children between the ages of six and seven years old, and six staff members at the school before shooting himself.
Twitter users posted photos and collages of the victims online on Saturday, thinking about the years and potential they all lost.
"My heart goes out to all the survivors who will never forget," one person tweeted. "It's unfathomable what happened to those children, teachers - to all of us really by some measure."
"Poor little children. How evil can a hard drive be? Let's also pray for the boys' principal and administrators that died protecting the children that day no. They are true heroes," a third person wrote.
7 years. still can’t believe this happened. still heartbroken. i will never forget this day and the pit i felt in my stomach. i still feel it. rest in peace sweet angels 🤍 #SandyHook pic.twitter.com/cnFbZzKTzz— Breana ❄️🤍 (@breana_skelton) December 14, 2019
The posts ranged from emotional to statistical on Saturday, with many users also sharing data on gun violence and shootings. The Sandy Hook shooting seemed like a wake-up call at the time, since its victims were so young, yet school shootings continue to be a serious threat in the U.S. President Barack Obama even gave a televised address following the tragedy, saying he had "enormous sympathy for the families that are affected."
"We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," he added.
New gun control measures were suggested and, in some cases, instated as a direct result of the shooting. A month after the attack, New York enacted the Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement Act. Months later, Connecticut passed a major gun control bill, requiring universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines, like the ones that the shooter used.
26 people, many of them CHILDREN, were shot & killed at #SandyHook
We are STILL fighting for #GunReformNow
We are pleading with @senatemajldr to bring this to the Senate Floor.December 14, 2019
The state also has the first registry of dangerous-weapons offenders in the U.S., and a state-wide assault weapons ban. Many family members of victims and survivors of the shooting remain active gun control activists to this day.
These measures were helped along in many ways by Chris Murphy, who served as a Connecticut state congressman until 2013, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. On Saturday, Murphy shared a heartbreaking story about one of the victims of the shooting on Twitter.
"I want to tell you a story. An important story," he wrote. "I want to tell you what 7 yr old Daniel did, 7 yrs ago today."
5/ Daniel didn’t come home on the bus that afternoon.
He died, 7 years ago today, in his first grade classroom.
But what he did that morning - the hugs, the cuddling, the holding hands - are, for his family, perhaps the most important things he ever did.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 14, 2019
Murphy went on to relay Daniel's family's recollection of that morning, and how much his small gestures of affection meant to them. He urged his followers to remember the tragedy on a personal level, not a political one.
"Big things matter. I know they do. I fill my days working on big things. But small things - the kind words, the little favor, the easy compliment, the hug - matter more to those on the receiving end than any of us know," he wrote. "Today, more than other days, that’s worth remembering."