Nearly 30 people have been killed in school shootings within almost 14 months of the massacre in Newtown, Conn.
At least 44 shootings have occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as on college campuses, in 24 states across the country since Dec. 14, 2012. Twenty-eight people died and 37 suffered non-fatal gun wounds, according to an analysis jointly released Wednesday by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Twenty-eight of the incidents occurred at primary schools, and 16 at colleges or universities. At least one person died in 49% of these shootings.
"As a result, students across the country have lost their sense of security. They have spent countless hours of their education on lockdown…wondering what they would do if a gunman was at their door," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. "There is nothing normal about gun violence at our schools."
The gunmen ranged in age from 5 to 53, according to the analysis. Of the kindergarten through 12th grade shootings in which the suspects' ages were known, 70% were carried out by minors. Additionally, when the source of the firearm was distinguished among these cases, three-quarters of the shooters obtained their firearms from home.
Watts and other group members met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning -- ahead of the 14-month mark on Valentine's Day -- in their ongoing attempt to pressure legislators to pass what they call "commonsense" gun laws. They submitted handmade valentines to leaders with written messages demanding they protect American children by passing background checks.
"As parents, our hearts are broken that Congress has done nothing," Watts said. "This Valentine's Day we ask Congress to have the courage, compassion, and heart to enact laws that will make our schools and communities safer."
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York were in attendance, as well as Carlee Soto, whose sister Victoria was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Gun violence knows no bounds. It is a serious threat to Americans everywhere," Soto said. "The Sandy Hook massacre opened our country's eyes that we have a serious problem. I will not let my sister become another name, another number, another statistic."
"At this rate, it is just a matter of time before another Newtown happens," added Murphy during the morning press conference.
Nearly 800 adolescents under the age of 18 have died from guns since Newtown. Judges in Hartford recently defended the constitutionality of Connecticut's assault weapons ban, which they said balances Second Amendment gun rights and the Obama administration's call to reduce violence.
Moms Demand Action has not only worked to pressure Congress to pass reform, but members have also requested change from several major corporations. The mothers most recently formed a campaign requesting that Facebook and Instagram prohibit all sales and trades of firearms that are not subject to background checks.
"Anyone who is afraid of a background check—well I'm going to be honest with you—probably shouldn't own a gun," McCarthy said on Wednesday.
Some individuals, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, continually question their colleagues on Capitol Hill about their failure to act. Giffords, who survived gunshot wounds after being shot outside a supermarket in 2011, asked her former co-workers in a pre-State of the Union advertisement the reasons that prevent them from implementing tougher laws on gun safety.
"It is deplorable that our elected officials have not taken action to address our country's gun violence epidemic," Watts said. "How many more broken hearts? We will not tolerate an America where a school day that starts with a mother's hug can so easily end with gun violence."