Members of the House held a moment of silence on the floor Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 students and six teachers dead.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the pause for reflection was “in continuing remembrance of the victims” of the shooting that took place in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. Lawmakers from both parties stood in the chamber for just over 40 seconds to honor the 26 lives lost.
“Today marks 10 years since 20 innocent children and six selfless educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,” Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), whose district includes Newtown, said on the House floor.
She was surrounded by members of the Connecticut delegation and Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), whose 17-year-old son was fatally shot at a gas station in 2012.
“Newtown is a small community with a big heart. A community that changed forever 10 years ago, bonded by a shared grief that no one can truly comprehend,” Hayes added. “The lives of my constituents in this community were reshaped forever.”
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is the deadliest school shooting at an elementary, middle or high school in the U.S. The second deadliest incident in that category occurred on May 24, when a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers.
Hayes on the House floor Wednesday noted that families of the victims in the shooting have mourned the loss of their loved ones and honored their memories through service. She named a number of organizations that were created in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“Every single family affected honored the memories of their loved ones through service. These families have all found ways to turn their grief into action,” Hayes said.
“While I recognize that we have so much work to do as legislators in this body, my only ask of you today, colleagues, is that we not let the deaths of these children be in vain and that we recommit ourselves to making our schools and our communities safe and find ways to turn solemn moments like this into action,” she added.
Congress took rare action this year to address gun violence, passing a gun safety package that President Biden signed into law. The measure enhances background checks for gun purchasers between the age of 18 and 21, creates a federal offense for individuals who obtain firearms through straw purchases or trafficking and clarifies the definition of a federally licensed firearm dealer, among other measures.
It marked the first time in nearly 30 years that Congress approved major legislation to counter gun violence.
Pelosi cited that legislation in her statement marking 10 years since the shooting in Newtown.
“Endlessly inspired by courageous survivors and families transforming their anguish into action, Democrats have led the charge to combat the scourge of gun violence. This summer, President Biden and the Democratic Congress enacted the first major gun violence prevention law in nearly three decades, which deploys stronger tools to keep weapons out of dangerous hands and invests in critical mental health services,” she said.