School Climate & Safety Photos

PHOTOS: A Decade After the Sandy Hook Shooting

By Evie Blad & Jaclyn Borowski — December 13, 2022 2 min read
A tree sits in the middle of a round stone water feature surrounded by a round stone pathway at night. Benches around the edge of the pathway are lit with warm lights.
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It’s been 10 years since the deadliest K-12 school shooting in U.S. history reignited conversations about safety, gun laws, and student well-being that continue today.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old former Newtown, Conn., student burst into the town’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 young children and six adults with a powerful rifle before killing himself as first responders arrived.

What followed was an immediate push for new gun laws, including universal background checks, that later stalled in Congress; hundreds of state bills designed to prevent future tragedies; and a long road of grief for the community.

Education Week published two stories this week to commemorate the tragedy:

Here is a look back, in photos, of some of the political—and personal—effects of the tragedy.

Confronting conspiracy theories

Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, speaks to the media after jurors returned a $965 million dollar judgement in the defamation trial against Alex Jones, in Waterbury, Conn, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

Families and survivors have faced swirls of conspiracy theories and threats since the shooting. In October, a court ordered fringe media figure Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion in damages after a group of families successfully sued him for defamation. Jones had repeatedly and falsely asserted the shooting had been staged to win support for tougher gun laws.

Continued advocacy

Jordan Gomes, 18, left, a survivor of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, speaks next to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., right, at the end of a vigil. The vigil was held to stand in solidarity with the Uvalde, Texas, families and demand an end to gun violence on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Newtown, Conn.

Some Newtown students, educators, and families have linked with other communities following subsequent school shootings, making a push for gun control. After a May shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, they helped support the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first piece of major gun legislation to pass Congress in nearly 30 years. Some continue to fight for a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons, like the rifle used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Combining forces

In this Dec. 3, 2019, photo, Mark Barden and his daughter Natalie Barden hold a photograph of Natalie's late brother, Daniel, at their home in Newtown, Conn. Daniel died in the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators. Natalie, 17, is among Newtown students who have grown up to become young voices in the gun violence prevention movement.

The nation saw a swell of youth activism after the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Some Newtown students, including some who’d lost friends and loved ones in the 2012 shooting, had already been active in pushing for new gun laws. Events like March for Our Lives brought fresh interest to their efforts.

A new Sandy Hook

The pick up area is shown in front of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, Friday, July 29, 2016, in Newtown, Conn.

Newtown schools opened a new Sandy Hook school in 2016 to replace the former building, which was torn down after the attack.

Architects designed the building to promote safety without feeling like a cold fortress. It includes warm wood walls, open hallways that allow adults to monitor entrances, and plenty of natural light.

Painted hand prints with names of teachers and students are on a playground bench at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on July 29, 2016. Students attended the first day of classes there on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. The new building replaced the one that was demolished where 20 first graders and six educators were shot and killed in December 2012. The names on the bench are not those of people killed in the 2012 massacre at the school.

A failed push

President Barack Obama speaks in the White House Rose Garden of the White House about measures to reduce gun violence with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and family of victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting on April 17, 2013. From left are Neil Heslin, who lost his son Jesse Lewis; Giffords; Jimmy Greene, who lost his daughter Ana; Vice President Joe Biden; Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan; Mark and Jackie Barden, with their children Natalie and James, who lost their son Daniel; and Jeremy Richman, behind the Barden's, who lost his daughter Avielle.

Following the shooting, some families joined then-President Barack Obama to push for a package of new gun laws, which never saw a vote in Congress.

President Joe Biden, who was then vice president, led that effort.. Biden has recently revived discussions of a ban on assault-style weapons, which would face strong political headwinds.

‘A club no one wants to join’

A mourner attends a candlelight vigil at Ram's Pasture to remember shooting victims, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children.

Leaders of schools and districts that had dealt with prior acts of gun violence reached out to Newtown officials in the days after the event, offering support and guidance. In the time since, principals who’ve led schools in the aftermath of shootings have formed a support network and issued guidance for their peers to use in the event of a crisis.

Gary Seri, general manager at the Stone River Grille, prepares to hang a message written on a table cloth in honor of the teachers who died along with students a day earlier when a gunman open fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. Seri said the teachers were scheduled to have their holiday party at his restaurant. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

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