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Families Of Newtown Victims Launch New Initiative

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One month after the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., families of those killed joined with other residents to announce the formation of a new national organization that's aimed at curbing gun violence in America.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

Family members of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, have spent the past month grieving. Now, some of them have banded together and say they're ready to be part of a national discussion about how to make our communities safer. They call themselves the Sandy Hook Promise. Jeff Cohen, of member station WNPR, has the story.

JEFF COHEN, BYLINE: The auditorium in Newtown went quiet when family members of victims took the stage. As they found their seats, some held up pictures of their children; others passed tissues. Nicole Hockley stood in front of a throng of reporters, and said it was a sad honor to speak. She lost her son Dylan.

NICOLE HOCKLEY: At times, it feels like only yesterday. And at other times, it feels as if many years have passed. I still find myself reaching for Dylan's hand, to walk through a car parking lot; or expecting him to crawl into bed beside me, for early morning cuddles before we get ready for school. It's so hard to believe he's gone.


COHEN: That's Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose first-grade daughter was also killed at Sandy Hook. She spoke of her faith in Jesus, and of how she doesn't fear darkness or evil or hate.

MARQUEZ-GREENE: We are choosing love. In this way, we are honoring Ana's life, and the legacy of love and faith. Love wins. Love wins in Newtown, and may love win in America.

COHEN: The two mothers were the first of several families to speak, as members of a new nonprofit focused on supporting each other and making the country safer. They described the Sandy Hook Promise as the beginning of some sort of change. They didn't put forward any specific policy proposals. For now, they want it known that they will be part of a national discussion on guns, mental health and public safety. The two mothers then read the promise itself. It includes a pledge to support each other, a pledge to turn the tragedy into what they called a moment of transformation, a pledge to listen as much as they speak. Again, Nicole Hockley.

HOCKLEY: This is a promise to do everything in our power to be remembered not as the town filled with grief and victims, but as the place where real change began. Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not. This is our promise, the Sandy Hook promise.

COHEN: Finally came David Wheeler. He and his wife, Francine, lost their son Ben. David Wheeler spoke of the importance of parents.

DAVID WHEELER: I would respectfully request that every parent in this country who hears these words, simply pause for a moment and think. Ask yourself, what is it worth doing to keep your children safe?

COHEN: That question being asked in Newtown, is now being asked across the country. For NPR News, I'm Jeff Cohen.

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