Murdered Sandy Hook Principal's Daughter Says the Word 'Gun' Makes Her 'Sick' Now

Dawn HochsprungDawn Hochsprung and her daughter AnneTo carry a gun or not, to arm teachers or not, to ban semi-automatic rifles or not -- for most of us these questions about gun rights and gun control are mostly theoretical. They're something you ponder or read about or notice popping up in a zealous friend’s Facebook feed -- but it's not something you FEEL to the core of your being when you think about it. Probably not anyway. Unless you've been directly affected by a crime, especially a crime of gun violence, like the daughters of Dawn Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who lost her life in that December tragedy.

The organization One Million Moms for Gun Control is trying to change how we think about guns in a really powerful way. They’re making it personal by creating a space for the people affected by gun violence to share their stories. People like Anne, Amy, and Beth, the three grieving stepdaughters of Principal Hochsprung.

These young women lost so much more than an abstract concept on at that inexplicably violent day at Sandy Hook; they lost their beloved stepmom, the woman who shared her heart with them, the woman their father shared his life with, and the woman their own children called Grandma. When you read the simple, powerful stories they share, this abstract issue suddenly becomes painfully personal.

Anne writes:

On my fridge there is a photo of my sisters and me with our dad; our faces filled with joy and smiles. For ten years, Dawn made my dad so incredibly happy. She put a smile on his face and, albeit cheesy, the spring in his step. I find myself looking at that picture daily and willing that smile to come back to my dad’s face. His life has been turned upside down, his well-laid plans for the future are now in pieces and the sparkle in his eyes has gone out. All because of one word: Gun.

Can’t you just picture that photograph? One of those pictures you stick on the refrigerator, and over time it kind of becomes invisible, background, just one of the many mementos of a happy day that you don’t even take time to notice as you open the door to grab the milk or butter. And now, it means so much more. Now it’s a reminder not only of a happy moment, but of all that has been lost.

Amy starts out her piece by writing, “I’m embarrassed to say that before December 14, 2012, I hadn’t ever really given a lot of thought to gun control.” And I can so relate to that -- because it’s always been the same for me. If I’d been polled, I would surely have supported the vague idea of “stronger gun control laws,” but it wasn’t something that really touched me. But of course, after that terrible day, Anne’s perspective changed forever. She writes:

Now, I feel the word “gun” in the pit of my stomach. It is no longer an abstract concept; instead, it has weight and heft to it. It has become tangible. And ugly. I find myself lingering over the concrete details of Dawn’s death. How many times was she shot, when she ran out of the office? Where was she shot? Did she have time to think, and feel fear, and then pain? Now the word gun makes me sick.

It’s making me sick, too. Something like this is hard to read, but it’s so important because it’s easy to get lost in the rhetoric when it comes to gun control. It’s easy to, as Dawn’s daughter Beth writes, “see both sides of the story” -- something Beth shares she often does with big issues, something she USED to do with gun control. Not any more:

For what it’s worth, I can no longer see both sides of the story or remain open-minded about this issue. ... I may incur the wrath and disapproval of neighbors and friends who feel differently, but I, as an individual, need to get off the fence and be part of the dialogue. I owe it to my children to “be the change that you wish to see in the world” (Gandhi). I owe it to Dawn.

We all owe it to Dawn to really think about the human face of this “issue” when we talk about gun control, when we decide whether or not to get involved, or how to cast our votes. Before you make up your mind about a proposed assault weapons ban, or stronger gun regulations, take it out of the abstract, look at the faces, and let it get personal. We owe that much to Dawn, to the murdered children of Sandy Hook, and to every SINGLE person who, thanks to somebody armed with a gun, has been left with nothing but memories, photographs, and a broken heart.

Did the tragedy of Sandy Hook change how you feel about gun control? Does reading those stories?


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ethan... ethans_momma06

Not really.

Violence doesn't come from guns, those are just the tools. If these people really want this sort of thing to 'never happen again', they should start by tackling what is causing these violent acts. What is causing these people to WANT to go in to a school and shoot people.

Because as crappy as it is to say, we have to acknowledge the fact that if we someone managed to do away with all guns (impossible) these people would find another means to the ends. Because they went into these places with thought. Because they didn't accidentally pull the trigger, but did so with purpose and intent.

I am not swayed by the emotional responses the victims have to this subject. I understand their response. I am sympathetic. But, good legislation should not be had at an emotional level. Good legislation, pragmatic answers- those all need to be found through the use of logic.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

It doesn't change anything for me, because I realize that people who commit these crimes are sick. They are in need of serious help and are ignored by society- nothing is offered to parents with children who turn into people that commit these crimes, and there is nothing but shame for these parents and thus they usually try to hide the problems from public scrutiny.

Gun control will do nothing to solve THAT problem. There are enough guns out there RIGHT NOW, that if a sick and twisted individual wanted to do something terrible, they can. This will not stop them- their desire is to cause harm and bring grief... they will not stop because of some law.


Armed guards will not stop it either. Neither will arming teachers or training staff... the people who WANT to commit these crimes will find another way or another venue. THEY are sick, THEY need help. THEY are the problem that needs to be dealt with- not the guns. And until our society wants to own up to its failures in providing assistance to families or begins to make some tough and difficult decisions regarding mental health- there is nothing we can do but wait for the next sad tragedy.

Flori... Floridamom96

This (your article) IS the rhetoric. Rising above the rhetoric would require a recognition that experiencing tragedy or crime does not give a person automatic credibility or legitimacy. Claiming that the words of these women carry more weight because of their loss is nothing but rhetoric.

bills... billsfan1104

Can you writers on this website, please do an article on the parents who are not screaming "more gun control"? I can't remember his name, but there is one father who asked for all things to be discussed not just guns.

But I guess it doesn't fit in your narrative of "guns are evil".

nonmember avatar coco'smom158

I feel awful for these girls, their father, and all the other families of victims of gun violence. There NEEDS to be stricter gun laws. Yes, mental health is an issue and that too needs to be worked on. But GUNS are the tools that these people use and their access to them needs to be restricted.

nonmember avatar Jazz

Ironic, my mother in law was killed by a drunk driver and "drunk drivers " make me sick...but I still don't blame the booze! People are stupid.

Melis... Melissa1508

@coco'smom158, stricter gun laws serve no purpose, as the above commenters already mentioned.  There are MILLIONS of guns on the streets and stricter gun laws for law abiding citizens are not going to stop criminals and the mentally ill from accessing them.  If you want to talk about restricting the tools used, then let's restrict access to cars...there are more automobile related deaths every year than deaths by gun violence but I don't hear anyone screaming about "car control".  Or let's restrict alcohol...we need stricter alcohol laws due to the amount of deaths caused by DUI.  I don't hear anyone screaming about that.  People find one thing and latch onto it when there are many many other issues out there.  That's not to say that gun control isn't important, but to focus on one thing is ludicrous.

Vegeta Vegeta

So people who are killed by drunk drivers are afraid and made sick by the word 'car' then? My partner and I are both wearing guns right now and at least up until this point, they haven't come to life and slaughtered us yet. They could be lying in wait for the right moment though. Sneaky buggers...

Dan Ed

We need to implement a national registry to track the number of sales each day with a maximum purchase limit of 3 regardless of where purchased. And we need a national Permit process where you have to have a permit before you can buy one and go through training.

We are talking about Alcohol right? I mean, it was cited in 900,000 child abuse cases last year, and over 10,000 killed by drunk drivers. I think its time we had an honest discussion of banning any alcohol over a 5% Alcohol content and ban the sale of Alcohol after 9pm.

Ooh wait! You don't like it when I talk about removing the freedoms you enjoy, but its ok when you want to talk about removing the freedoms I enjoy? I know liberals are Hypocrites, and love their wine, but try telling the almost 1 million children abused last year how you banned all Semi-Auto Rifles used in less then 500 murders last year while ignoring the pain they feel from alcohol.

Good job there!

Melis... Melissa1508

@ Dan Ed and Vegeta---EXACTLY. 

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