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Mass shootings may get all the attention, but advocates say don't minimize everyday gun violence

Newtown Vigil
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence, said that federal lawmakers who do not agree with commonsense gun laws "need to start looking for a new job." The Newtown Action Alliance together with the Newtown Interfaith Council hosted a vigil to stand with Uvalde, Texas, after the tragedy in that community. Afterward they marched to the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters just a few miles away.

It’s been 10 years since a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown left 20 students and six educators dead. The tragedy put renewed focus on America’s gun laws and on the nation’s massive number of mass shootings.

But the country also struggles with a less-talked-about form of everyday gun violence. In 2020, more than 45,000 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that same year, nearly 8 in 10  murders involved a firearm, the highest percentage since the late 1960s.

“We are going to hear a lot of stories about Sandy Hook over the next couple of weeks, as we should,” said Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence. “But we also need to make sure that we’re talking to those survivors that are in places like New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford – those places that are seeing gun violence on an almost daily basis.”

Stein said that gun death rates in Connecticut are statistically low compared to other states but that “white people in Connecticut are far better protected than Black and brown communities.”

A 2018 study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found Black men are 14 times more likely than white men to die by firearm homicide.

Sean Reeves, with CT Against Gun Violence, lost his son 11 years ago when he was shot and killed in New Haven.

“We have had several mass shootings throughout the last few years, which has informed and pushed policy,” he said.

But Reeves said lawmakers need to do more to address everyday gun violence in communities.

I don’t really think policy addresses those things yet,” he said.

Stein said all citizens need an equal chance at having an equal quality of life.

He said it’s important for the media to tell stories from Sandy Hook, but it’s also imperative that Americans pay attention to gun violence in cities.

“We don’t hear about these stories that are existing every day,” Stein said. “Sometimes the media forgets to report on that, and sometimes we take it for granted. It’s ‘Oh, yes; another Black man killed in Hartford. Oh, let me scroll the page.’

“We can’t stop caring about this,” he said.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. In his 20th year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: