Mark Barden, the father of one of the schoolchildren killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings will address the Rhode Island Coalition against Gun Violence on Thursday, as the coalition marks its first anniversary.
Barden has become a national advocate for reducing gun violence. He says he still struggles to deal with the death of his son, Daniel, nearly two years after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
"This past Saturday, September 27th, we should have been celebrating Daniel’s 9th birthday, and instead we are still trying to contemplate the fact that he is gone," Barden said. "I cannot articulate to you what that’s like."
Daniel Barden was just seven-years-old when he was gunned down in a first grade classroom. Since then, his father has become the advocacy director for Sandy Hook Promise, a group pushing for a national conversation about gun violence.
Barden says he sees his work as a way to honor his son's memory.
"My oldest of my three children, James, says what can we do to prevent another family from living through this. I take that seriously," Barden said. "And when I consider the life of my little Daniel, who was known by everyone as a bright light of compassion, I feel a strong responsibility to honor that."
Despite inaction at the federal level, Barden says he still believes most Americans support measures to better protect children from gun violence. He says states can consider steps such as strengthening gun laws and improving access to mental health treatment to address the root causes of gun violence.
Barden will speak at a fundraiser in Barrington for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence on Thursday.