Since that day, some of the victims’ families have worked to stay out of the public eye, seeking privacy or even fearing harassment. Others have publicly fought for causes such as mental health supports or gun violence prevention - all an effort to prevent the next Sandy Hook.
It was a day that captured the attention of the country, from elected officials and advocates who stood up to try to drive the necessary change to prevent future tragedies to the caregivers who went from assuming their children were coming home that day from school to simply hoping.
Since that day, educators have been trained in best practices for keeping their children safe should a gunman enter the building and students regularly go through active shooter drills.
The children who hid in their classrooms on Dec. 14, 2012, grew into young adults with the shadow of that day ever hanging over them. Some have become activists, advocating for gun violence prevention.
Survivors then and now
7 years old on that day
“Over the past nine or 10 years, I have been wondering why I walked out of the school and other kids didn't, and how could I have survived. I can't even compare to these kids who had so much potential.”
7 years old on that day
“I want to stop school shootings as a whole. I also want to protect kids in the future because I don't want anyone else to go through what I had to go through.”
7 years old on that day
“This stuff stays with you for life. It doesn't matter if it's gonna affect you in a big way or a little way. It's always gonna be in the back of your mind.”
8 years old on that day
“It will always be part of who I am but I don't want that to become my life. I'm still me.”
As of June 1, 2022, 91 people had died in school shootings following Sandy Hook and 205,230 K-12 students had been exposed to gun violence at school.
“Sandy Hook was one of those watershed moments that taught us that gun violence can happen anywhere ... that this is a pervasive public health crisis that can happen anywhere,” Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence said. "On the other hand, this awakening hasn’t always translated into tangible change.”
Connecticut legislators acted swiftly, passing legislation in 2013 that bans certain assault weapons, limits high-capacity magazines and requires background checks on all gun purchases. Federal policy has come at a much slower pace. President Barack Obama visited Sandy Hook after the shooting and pushed for gun reform that never came due to legislative gridlock. In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., legislation was passed that makes it more difficult for young people to buy guns, tightens restrictions on gun purchases for domestic abusers and incentivizes states to pass “red flag” laws.
On a state level, firearm legislation that has been implemented since the Sandy Hook shooting has been more restrictive. Red flag laws, restrictions for domestic violence offenders and child access prevention laws are among the class of restrictive policies that have been passed in the last decade. Despite tighter laws, 45 people were injured or killed in school shootings in 2021, and that figure rose to 47 in the first five months of 2022 alone, according to the Washington Post. Gun deaths rose 35 percent nationally from 2012 to 2020 , spurred by increases in both homicides and suicides, according to the Giffords Law Center, an anti-gun nonprofit.
State firearm legislation and K-12
shooting casualties since 2012
Expands gun access
Restricts gun access
Injuries and deaths each year
*Data taken from the RAND State Firearm Law Database. The RAND database tracks 20 categories of firearm legislation. Some miscellaneous laws that fall outside these categories may not be included in this visualization. Year refers to the year the law was implemented. Legislation from 2021 and 2022 has not been added to the database. Provisions from the same bill may be classified as separate laws based on RAND’s classification system.
Meanwhile, the Newtown community has promised to never forget the tragedy, but also not to be defined by it. The town has had to balance honoring the victims, while respecting the way each person grieves. This has culminated with the opening of a memorial in mid-November that is meant to serve as a place for quiet reflection.
What happens after the town and nation mark 10 years since the mass shooting is yet to be written. The memorial has been constructed, a new school built and the survivors of that day have grown up, while the families of the 26 victims have found their own way to mourn those killed.
All the while, the tragedy remains an ever present part of the local community and the drive for change across the country.
“The world unfortunately found out where Sandy Hook was under the most trying of circumstances — people didn’t know Newtown until that fateful day, and now the whole world is focused on Sandy Hook.” - Alan Martin, a 50-year resident of Newtown who helped direct construction of the memorial.
About this story
The RAND Corporation’s State Firearm Law Database tracks 20 classes of gun laws, but it might not include every single firearm-related law that has been passed over the last several decades due to its classification and aggregation methods. The database pulls information from secondary sources, including the Firearm Legislation Dataset compiled by the Giffords Law Center, as well as conducting its own review of laws that may have been omitted from secondary sources. RAND has not updated its database to include 2021 laws. Other organizations, like Giffords, do track legislation through 2021, but combining or switching databases can lead to inconsistency. For the purposes of this visualization, we relied on RAND’s classifications. More information on RAND’s database and methodology can be found here .
The Washington Post manages a database of primary and secondary school shootings to document the impact of gun violence on students in America. The database uses enrollment and attendance figures to estimate how many students have been exposed to gun violence in schools since the 1999 Columbine shooting. Their database is updated through May 2022, when the Robb Elementary school shooting took place in Uvalde, Texas. Shootings since then are not pictured in this story. The Washington Post’s database and further methodology can be found here .
At top of page: Video by Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media; Photos of Charlotte Bacon, Rachel D'Avino, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Anne Marie Murphy, Jack Pinto, Caroline Previdi, Avielle Richman, Lauren Roussea, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Ben Wheeler and Allison Wyatt are contributed photos; Photos of Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Grace McDonnell, Noah Pozner and Jessica Rekos from the Associated Press; Photo of Emilie Parker from the Washington Post News Service