Speed Reads

remembering sandy hook

Mother of Sandy Hook victim is on a mission to stop school violence

It's been four years since 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were brutally murdered by a gunman. In the days after the tragedy, Nicole Hockley — whose younger son, 6-year-old Dylan, died in the arms of his special education assistant, and older son, Jake, survived the shooting — cofounded Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to preventing gun violence, working for stricter gun laws, and bringing attention to mental health education.

In an interview with Vogue.com Wednesday, Hockley spoke about warning signs — excessive bullying, chronic social isolation, and vocal threats — and stressed the importance of speaking to school officials, law enforcement, and mental health professionals. It's also pertinent, she said, to speak about guns and mental health together: "Let's talk about how we ensure that only the right people are able to access guns, and how we can help people before they reach the point of picking up a gun to hurt themselves or someone else. That's not something you can necessarily legislate for. That's a social change."

Hockley said he believes background checks for gun owners failed because while polls showed 90 percent of Americans and 70 percent of NRA members wanted them, "there's a big difference between responding to a poll and actually calling your congressman. Not enough people were doing that. The people who were against passing background checks are incredibly organized..." She has spent a lot of time with President Obama, who was "so compassionate and sympathetic, but truly focused on doing something to make a change," and finds solace in being told that the training Sandy Hook Promise has provided to 1.5 million people has helped prevent school violence. "I will wholly admit, I've chosen a hard path here," she said. "I've chosen a long path. I've chosen a path where I'm constantly re-traumatizing myself. But saving lives in the name of Dylan, and protecting Jake and his future, that is... all a mother needs."