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Family Members Impressed By State Legislators’ Bipartisan Approach To New Gun Law

Speaking Wednesday morning, April 3, Mark Barden said that considering where lawmakers stood on enacting strong gun legislation two weeks ago, when family members of victims of 12/14 first met with lawmakers at the State Capitol in Hartford, he feels that the bill on gun violence prevention and children’s safety (Senate Bill 1160) set for a vote by legislators that day, showed that legislators had “done some good work in moving the ball forward.”

Mark and Jackie Barden are the parents of 6-year-old Daniel Barden, who was one of 20 first grade students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHS) on December 14.

“There was a loophole concerning the limit of high capacity ammunition magazines that we thought had to be addressed. It was greatly concerning to us that [the bill] did grandfather in high capacity ammunition magazines [already in people’s possession],” said Mr Barden.

The meeting two weeks ago allowed family members to ask lawmakers, in person, “to please look at that,” Mr Barden said. “They assured us they would resume that conversation and look at [that aspect of the bill] again,” he said.

The Bardens were among six family members directly affected by 12/14 who returned Monday, April 1, to the Capitol, to present legislators with a letter expressing those concerns, once again.

On Wednesday, the Bardens were satisfied that steps had been taken to strengthen the bill in that area of concern, as lawmakers prepared to vote. “It’s a significant piece of legislation,” said Mr Barden, and added, “I can’t say I’m disappointed.”

The Bardens said that they were pleased that state legislators seemed to have pulled off the bill to improve on gun violence prevention “In a bipartisan manner.”

“I hope we can lead by example, here in Connecticut,” said Ms Barden.

Nicole Hockley also expressed satisfaction in the bill being presented for a vote Wednesday. “It is important that [legislators] absolutely listened to us,” agreed Ms Hockley, mother of SHS first grader, Dylan Hockley, who died 12/14.

“They took action on what we asked them to consider and strengthened revisions within the bill. I applaud them for doing it in a bipartisan way and for being a model for our country, she said.

Still, said Ms Hockley, the passage of Senate Bill 1160 would be only the beginning of dealing with gun legislation in Connecticut. “This is only the first step,” she stressed.

Ms Hockley noted that there are federal gun legislation issues to look at “and so many nonlegislative issues to consider.”

“We are committed to this for the long haul,” said Mr Barden, referring to further action on gun violence prevention, but emphasized that there are many areas that the family will be looking at. “It’s a huge, broad spectrum,” he said.

Brain health, school safety, and a change in culture are included in that spectrum, but one of the more important areas the Bardens support is that of family and community connectivity.

“Daniel was an extremely compassionate and kind child,” explained Ms Barden. They want the public to be aware of a Facebook site, sanctioned by the family, and set up in December by her niece. WWDD: WhatWouldDanielDo is a page dedicated to encouraging people to take part in random acts of kindness.

“My niece returned to school in December, and seeing a boy sitting by himself, thought ‘What would Daniel do?’ She went over, and spoke to the boy, something she said she probably wouldn’t have done before [12/14],” Ms Barden said. The appreciation her niece received in return for that simple act encouraged her to set up the Facebook site.

Daniel was known at school for similar acts. Teachers have told the Bardens that Daniel would seek out children sitting alone, and go to them. “People need to look to one another and be kind,” she said. “He really got it.”

One of the ways the family spreads Daniel’s kindness is through the distribution of pairs of green and white bracelets. Attached to each set is a small card that reads “Please honor Daniel Barden by doing what he would do: Be kind and compassionate to all living things. Be helpful and thoughtful of others. Wear one, share one. Wear one bracelet. Share a bracelet with someone else after you have done a random act of kindness. Ask that person to do the same in honor of Daniel Barden.”

The family passes out the bracelets, or they can be purchased at www.whatwoulddanieldo.com. The cost covers packaging and shipping.

The sad irony of the situation, said Mr Barden, is that “the young man that killed {Daniel] was the kid that sat alone…”

The Bardens and Ms Hockley were among 20 family members gathered at Edmond Town Hall on Wednesday to film a segment for 60 Minutes, the CBS news show that airs each Sunday night, according to Sandy Hook Promise spokesman, Tim Makris. The family members agreed to the interview in order to bring attention back to Newtown “as we go into Senate debate for the passage of a federal gun bill,” said Mr Makris.

Nelba Marquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene, parents of first grade victim Ana Marquez-Greene, and Ms Hockley also granted interviews to Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes, filmed at the C.H. Booth Library.

The segment will air on 60 Minutes, Sunday, April 7, at 7 pm.

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