A 22-year-old man killed seven people, including himself, in Isla Vista, Calif., Friday, and he wounded 13 others. In the time since, Richard Martinez, the father of slain University of California, Santa Barbara, student Christopher Michaels-Martinez, has been an outspoken advocate for tougher gun laws.
That’s not an uncommon path for families of school violence victims and survivors of shootings. The parent of a child killed in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., acknowledged this Wednesday in a letter to Martinez that he posted on the Facebook page of the Sandy Hook Promise, an organization of parents of victims formed after the shootings to advocate for policy changes.
Mark Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the attacks, wrote:
We have not met, but you are now part of our extended family. It is not a family we chose, but a family born from the horrible circumstance of losing a child to gun violence—one that's only growing each day. My heart breaks for you because I know just a little about the long road ahead of you. We have reached out to you privately but publicly we wanted to say to you and those feeling the sorrow, anger. and frustration of this week's shooting, you are not alone. It has helped me, and some of the other family members who lost children and family at Sandy Hook Elementary, to come together and advocate for common sense solutions to expanding programs for mental wellness and gun-safety solutions. You will find your own path down this difficult road. But know that we are here for you and all of you who have been touched by this tragedy. Together, we can and will build a safer world for all our children."
Incidents of gun violence, particularly in K-12 schools and on college campuses, typically spark heated debates between those who advocate for tougher gun laws and those who advocate for heightened security measures in those areas. We’ve covered that tension before, on the first anniversary of the Newtown shootings.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.