Sandy Hook shooting survivors join Supreme Court reform group at event in Newtown
The advocacy group Just Majority held an event to call attention to the Supreme Court’s record on gun control since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Gun prevention advocates on Wednesday called for change at the Supreme Court during an event in Newtown, Connecticut, organized by Just Majority, a progressive group pushing to expand the court.
Attendees at the event included survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place in Newtown in 2012,
“We thought, after the horror that happened in this beautiful town, things would change, America would, moving forward, be safer for gun violence, because surely we would refuse to allow such atrocities to happen ever again. Not what happened,” said Abbey Clements, a teacher who survived the Sandy Hook shooting and a co-founder of Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence. “Now, gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in this country. So many school shootings. So many mass shootings. So many community shootings. So many suicides by gun. Endless grief, trauma, heartache, fear. We are a nation on edge. Where are our leaders? Where is Congress? Where is the Supreme Court?”
The event in Newtown was the second stop of a nationwide bus tour being put on by Just Majority, a coalition of more than two dozen progressive groups seeking to highlight “extreme partisan rulings and ethical lapses by the Court to make the case for major judicial reforms,” according to a press release.
Po Murray is the chair of Newtown Action Alliance, an organization that works to stop gun violence by enacting gun safety laws. Murray mentioned the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2022 in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, which made it more difficult for states to reject applications for permits to carry weapons in public.
“For the last 10 years, we’ve worked really hard to pass state and federal gun laws, and we’re making progress. But last year, the Supreme Court decided to side with the gun lobby and protect guns more than children,” Murray told the American Independent Foundation. “And now, it’s impacting our gun laws in this country. So that’s why I’m here. I joined the Just Majority bus tour to ask Congress to expand the court, to restore balance and also to make the Supreme Court more legitimate.”
Murray accused conservative Supreme Court justices of being “bought and paid for by the gun lobby.” Recent revelations of ethical concerns surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas are just one indication of larger corruption that can only be fixed by expanding the court, she said.
“The gun lobby spent millions and millions of dollars to make sure that these specific judges were confirmed so that they can pursue their ‘guns to everyone everywhere’ agenda,” Murray said. “And, because of that, they are ruling with the gun lobby instead of ruling in favor of protecting our children and our families and it makes all of us unsafe. So their unethical behavior will impact our lives.”
Among the speakers were high school seniors who were students at Sandy Hook in 2012. All who spoke drew a line between the Supreme Court and the nation’s continued lack of movement on gun control since then.
“We should have the right to feel safe and as a Sandy Hook survivor and activist, the fight for gun violence prevention has a long and tired journey. As I see another massacre displayed on the news headlines, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” said Cyrena Arokium, one of the survivors. “Now is the time to reform the Supreme Court. To restore balance and integrity. Like Just Majority said, there is nothing partisan about wanting Americans to have reproductive freedom or be safe from shootings or have civil rights.”
Nicole Melchionno, who also survived the shooting, said the Supreme Court majority’s backing by the NRA illustrates its lack of legitimacy in rulings that weaken gun control measures.
“Our generation is sick and tired of watching lawmakers remain actionless with blood on their hands. Congress refuses to act, and the Supreme Court is rewriting the Constitution to provide guns more rights than children,” Melchionno said. “Gun violence is the number one killer of children in America. It takes all of us to fix this issue. The NRA spent millions of dollars helping to install this Supreme Court majority and their delivery of rulings that make us all less safe.”
Fellow survivor Ashley Hubner said that despite a decade of little progress on gun control, it’s important to her to keep fighting.
“The majority of the Supreme Court’s justices have been on the court for more than 10 years,” Hubner said. “They have had so much time to make things better, to make things right, and they have failed. For there to be an overall genuine change in gun violence in America, then we need a real change. We need to reform the Supreme Court. We need term limits. And we need people that are going to value our lives more than money and guns. From my perspective as a teenager in America today, the Supreme Court justices do not care. They don’t care about me or any of us. It is imperative to the safety of everyone that we change that.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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