An open letter from a Sandy Hook mom

"It's time to stop catering to the gun lobbyists and start caring about our children," writes Carrie Battaglia

Published March 28, 2013 12:50PM (EDT)

               (Reuters/Eric Thayer)
(Reuters/Eric Thayer)

In an open letter to lawmakers, Newtown, Conn., mom Carrie Battaglia shared the trauma her 6-year-old daughter experienced as she hid with classmates inside a bathroom while 20 children and six adults lost their lives in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. The first grader is now frightened by loud noises, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has trouble sleeping at night.

The letter is part of an effort by Battaglia and other parents from the community to share their experiences with politicians, urging them to pass meaningful gun control legislation. And while progress on gun reform is slow and uneven, Battaglia told the New York Daily News that she and other Newtown parents are "in the fight for the long haul."

“We’re not going to give up. We’ll keep sending letters, calling (politicians) and we’re going to vote, make our voices heard," she told the News.

Battaglia's letter in full (emphasis mine):

I am a mother of three girls, ages 2, 6, and 8. Two of them are Sandy Hook School students – one in first grade, one in third grade. I would like to share with you our experience with Dec 14th and my feelings on gun control.

My third grader has gone thru some deep grief over the loss of her siblings’ friends. She was devastated by the loss of the teachers, especially her principal, Dawn Hocksprung, whom we all loved. She is angry that this has happened, that lives were lost so tragically and that she can no longer go to her school. When she was evacuated that day to the fire house, she did not know if her little sister had survived. She struggles with the concept that there is evil in the world, that something this horrific could happen to this town, to her, to her sisters, to her friends. She is 8.

In addition to the tragic loss of her playmates, friends, and teachers, my first grader suffers from PTSD. She was in the first room by the entrance to the school. Her teacher was able to gather the children into the tiny bathroom inside the classroom. There she stood, with 14 of her classmates and her teacher, all of them crying. You see, she heard what was happening on the other side of the wall. She heard everything. Shooting. Screaming. Pleading. She was sure she was going to die that day and did not want to die for Christmas. Imagine what this must have been like. With PTSD comes fear – all kinds of fear. Each time she hears a loud or unfamiliar noise, she experiences the fear she had in that bathroom. She is not alone. All of her classmates have PTSD. She struggles nightly with nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, and being afraid to go anywhere in her own home. At school she becomes withdrawn, crying daily, covering her ears when it gets too loud and waiting for this to happen again. She is 6.

Imagine being this age and living like this. My children face their fears every day by getting on the bus and going to school. Would you be able to do the same? How would you feel if these were your children?

Although we are getting help and trying to heal, this will affect us for the rest of our lives. We are thankful that by the grace of god, our children came home to us on Dec. 14. As a family and a community, we are deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss of so many innocent children and beloved teachers.

We are also furious.

Furious that 26 families must suffer with grief so deep and so wide that it is unimaginable.
Furious that the innocence and safety of my children’s lives has been taken.
Furious that someone had access to the type of weapon used in this massacre.
Furious that this type of weapon is even legal.
Furious that gun makers make ammunition with such high rounds and our government does nothing to stop them.
Furious that the ban on assault weapons was carelessly left to expire.
Furious that lawmakers let the gun lobbyists have so much control.
Furious that somehow, someone’s right to own a gun is more important than my children’s rights to life.
Furious that common sense has gone out the window.
Furious that lawmakers are too scared to take a stand.

The “what if’s” never stop going through my mind. What if this weapon were still banned? What if there weren’t high capacity rounds? What if the shooter had different bullets? I think the carnage would have been a lot less. Yes, there would have been losses. But there would have been time. Time to react and possibly make a difference.

Those children and teachers had NO CHANCE. They did not just get shot. They got blown apart.

It’s time to stop catering to the gun owners and lobbyists and start caring about our children, our families, our teachers, our friends and our neighbors. The NRA does not care about people, they care about money.

I don’t believe that anyone, other than the military, has a right to own the type of weapon or ammo used at Sandy Hook.

The second amendment is not limitless.

Weapons like the AR15 have no place in society. This is simply common sense.

Veronique Pozner, mother of Noah Pozner, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, gave this statement which I believe whole-heartedly:
“The equation is terrifyingly simple: Faster weapons equal more fatalities. This is not about the right to bear arms. It is about the right to bear weapons with the capacity for mass destruction.”

We are trying to move forward, but there must be change. If our lawmakers cannot make this change, then we, as a people will elect those who will.

I insist on the following from you, our lawmakers:
-Universal, federal level background checks – no loopholes;
-Ban ALL assault weapons like the ones used at Sandy Hook;
-Ban high capacity magazines and armor piercing bullets;
-Address mental health issues

Just as there are limits on Freedom of Speech, the MUST be limits on the 2nd amendment, for the good of society.

I ask you to think hard about your choices. Look at the pictures of the 26 innocent lives taken so needlessly and wastefully, using a weapon that never should have been in the hands of civilians. Really think. Changing the laws may “inconvenience” some gun owners, but it may also save a life, perhaps a life that is dear to me or you. Are you really willing to risk it?

There MUST NOT be another Sandy Hook. You have a responsibility and an obligation to act now and change the laws.

I hope and pray that you do not fail.

Carrie Lendroth Battaglia
Sandy Hook

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Gun Control Gun Reform Gun Violence Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting