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Sandy Hook victims' families visit SF, talk gun violence

March 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday marked three months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In San Francisco, some parents and tech industry luminaries came together in an effort to reduce gun violence.

It is not unusual to hear from people who have lost loved ones to gun violence that they feel compelled to action to try to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to anyone else. It is unusual to have some of the biggest minds and bank accounts in the tech industry behind them in that goal.

On December 14, 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. Among the children shot and killed was 7-year-old Daniel Barden. "Three months ago today in December 14, I held his little hand as I walked to the bus, kissed him goodbye for as you know, the last time," his father Mark Barden recalled. The next day, a grassroots organization called Sandy Hook Promise was launched by friends and neighbors of the victims.

In San Francisco Thursday, Sandy Hook Promise was joined by a dream team of tech industry venture capitalists and angel investors to announce they're backing nationwide innovation in gun safety, mental health and school safety, as only the tech industry can. Smart gun technologies are promising. "Some of those include passcodes. Other include electronic firing pins. Others include RFIDs," said Jim Pitkow with Sandy Hook Promise.

Avie Richmond, 6, was Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman's only child. They're scientists who want to pursue brain imaging technologies. "We don't know enough and we can't identify and intervene before people become violent unless we know what to look for and how to treat it," Avie's mom Jennifer Hensel said.

Dylan Hockley would have turned 7-years-old last Friday. His mother hopes this is a turning point for the nation. On Thursday, she met with Bay Area families who lost kids to gun violence. "The look of pain in their eyes has become all too familiar to me. It's the same pain I see in the families who also lost loved ones on 12/14 and the same pain I now see every time I look in the mirror," said Dylan's mother Nicole Hockley.

So far, 30 angel investors and venture capitalists have signed on promising to help fund and nurture promising companies to maturity, and the market.


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