Wednesday, Dec. 14 is the 10th anniversary of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., when a 20-year-old gunman shot and killed 26 people (and then killed himself). Twenty of the victims were children six and seven years old, and the other six were adult staff members.

Moms Demand Action Quad Cities is holding a vigil for the victims and survivors of the mass shooting on Wednesday, Dec. 14th at 7 to 8 p.m. at Community of Christ Church, 4221 N. Brady Street, Davenport. An ASL/English interpreter will be present.

Moms Demand Action Quad Cities will hold a vigil on the Sandy Hook 10th anniversary, Dec. 14, 2022 at Community of Christ Church, Davenport.

The seven-year-old QC group is part of the national organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has chapters in all 50 states. Kaleigh Rogers is a co-leader of the QC group, which meets monthly and has held annual remembrances of the Sandy Hook anniversary, the last one being in 2019 at the Unitarian Church in Davenport.

Rogers lives in Bettendorf, the mom of an 11-year-old girl and nearly 9-year-old boy, and said the Wednesday event will include a reading of the names of the Sandy Hook victims, poetry and refreshments. “We are really hoping to honor the victims and survivors but also to build community around preventing these tragedies and preventing them in our own schools,” she said Monday.

Rogers anticipates a bigger attendance, with the somber 10th anniversary.

“I think we’ve done a better job of outreach, than we have in years past. So I’m hopeful that we’ll have a good turnout,” she said. “We just really want to build community around preventing tragedies like these. And hopefully we can spark some people to take some action too. We’ve got some ways for them to do that.”

“The anniversary of Sandy Hook is kind of a, I don’t want to say a special time, like we’re happy about it, but Moms Demand Action was born out of the Sandy Hook shooting,” Rogers said. “So it’s really a time for us volunteers to reflect and recommit – to think of where we were and what we’ve done and how far we still have to go.”

Moms Demand Action was founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five. The day after the Sandy Hook tragedy, she started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence.

The lawn outside the U.S. Capitol is covered with 7,000 pairs of empty shoes to memorialize the 7,000 children killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook school shooting, in a display organized by the global advocacy group Avaaz, in Washington, D.C., March 13, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The online conversation turned into a movement of moms, dads, students, families, concerned citizens, and survivors working together with our partners in the gun violence prevention movement to end this uniquely American crisis.

The group is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly 10 million supporters. The group ranks every state by strength of its gun laws – Everytown ranks Illinois 6th of all states and Iowa 33rd.

Since Sandy Hook, Everytown has calculated at least 1,000 shootings on school grounds in America, which have killed 331 people — including the mass shooting last May 24 at Robb elementary in Uvalde, Tex. That left 21 dead, including 19 2nd-to-4th-grade students. On June 3, 2020, a shooting near Garfield Elementary in Davenport wounded an 18-year-old.

Everytown and Moms Demand Action support the “Be SMART” program for schools, she said.

“We want to see school safety initiatives for once, and not things like arming staff members,” Rogers said. “That kind of goes against the whole safety idea, which research shows. We would really like to get local school boards involved in passing resolutions to adopt our ‘Be SMART’ program. It is about keeping kids safe from guns.” 

For example, last December, a number of school districts in South Carolina adopted the program, including secure storage practices – to reduce the risk of gun violence among young people. 

The “Be SMART” program encourages parents and adults to: 

  • Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
  • Model responsible behavior around guns
  • Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
  • Recognize the role of guns in suicide
  • Tell your peers to be SMART

For more information on the program and how to securely store your firearms, visit the Be SMART website.

A sycamore tree stands at the center of a circular new memorial to the victims of the Dec. 14, 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn. (photo by Bryan Woolston/AP).

A new memorial in Newtown has opened with engraved names of the 20 first graders and six educators killed a short distance away at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 10 years ago. The actual school building was torn down after the shooting and rebuilt close by.

The long-awaited memorial to the victims officially opened to the public in November.

For more information on Moms Demand Action, visit the national website or the Iowa chapter Facebook page.