LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Thursday marks five years since a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Since then, there have been even larger mass shootings in the U.S., but Americans remain divided on how to solve gun violence in our country.
Thursday, Moms Demand Action met in Conway to pray and honor the 26 lives lost. Sandy hook sparked a national debate, including here in Arkansas.
"I feel like our country is starting to accept mass shootings as normal and they’re not normal. It's a uniquely American problem,” Moms Demand Action Member Eve Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen has a son in the first grade; the same age as some of the children who were killed years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary. She joined the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action to make her voice heard.
"Just the idea of him starting school, walking into that big place knowing there have been so many school shootings and nothing seems to be being done about it,” she said. "I wanted to act and participate in trying to end gun violence."
She and dozens of others came together at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church to pray for the victims who lives were cut short, and to make a point about gun violence today in our country.
"It's been five years and we haven't seen a whole lot of change from Congress,” Jorgensen said.
But here in Arkansas, the gun laws have changed quite a bit in five years.
“One of the things that I believe can help reduce the number of murders of our loved ones by these crazy killers is to allow people to have concealed carry licenses,” Rep. Charlie Collins said.
Rep. Collins sponsored House Bill 1243 that passed last March in the legislature. It became Act 563, or better known as the “Enhanced Concealed Carry License law,” and went into place Sept. 1.
The law allows people with concealed carry licenses to have firearms in places like college campuses in Arkansas.
"A lot of [mass shootings] happen in gun free zones like schools and college campuses and other places where concealed carry holders are not allowed to carry their weapons,” Collins said.
He said mass shootings like Sandy Hook are one of the reasons he filed the bill in the first place.
“What I believe this will do is deter some of these crazy killers who plot and plan to murder our loved ones…in places where they’ll be able to control the scene,” Collins said. “Public safety is perhaps the most important responsibility as a Legislator and expanding the conceal carry law is one of the things we’re doing to enhance public safety.”
But Jorgensen and other members of Moms Demand Action say something still needs to change, to honor the young lives lost in 2012.
"Laws keep changing but we're here to focus on victims of gun violence and survivors,” Jorgensen said.
Rep. Collins said you cannot conceal carry in elementary and high schools right now because those are governed by federal law.
Jorgensen said the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action will continue to fight for proper gun laws here in Arkansas.