Odiase is one of two valedictorians at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee.
It has been a difficult year for Nicole Hockley and many other Newtown parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook school shooting last year. Hockley has been working to try to decrease gun violence across the country, but she’s not pushing for a ban on assault weapons, like the one used in the shooting.
Instead, she is helping to find new ideas — some community based — for preventing another Newtown. She says the debate over gun violence has become too polarized, and she doesn’t want to take guns away from people.
“Gun culture is a part of the American fabric and we can’t get away from that,” she tells Here & Now’s Robin Young. “But it’s about being responsible and saying what can we do to prevent gun violence, and that’s not about taking guns away from people.”
On the nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise
“Sandy Hook Promise formed within a few days of the shooting at Sandy Hook and has the very simple mission of preventing gun violence and showing that we not only prevent future Sandy Hooks, but prevent all the other gun violence that we see across the country every day. There’s an epidemic out there and we need to do something about it … There is no one simple solution to this, and we are very focused on the causes of gun violence, such as mental wellness, community connectedness and parenting. It’s a more holistic solution.”
It’s not about banning assault weapons
“It’s not about demonizing or villainizing gun owners. With a lot of the gun owners we spoke to, they are also interested in these common sense solutions — measures to stop illegal gun trafficking, being required to report your gun if it’s lost or stolen to the police. These are common sense things; they’re not about bans and no we don’t support bans for assault weapons because gun culture is a part the American fabric, and we can’t get away from that. But it’s about being responsible and saying ‘what can we do to prevent gun violence?’ And that’s not about taking guns away from people.”
On working with Sandy Hook Promise
“Everyone grieves differently and everyone has a different path in life. I would very much prefer to be home with both of my boys right now, and have Dylan still in my arms rather than be in this parents club that, truly, no other parent will ever want to join. But this is my way of honoring Dylan and the others that were lost that day. Because I can’t let this be a senseless tragedy—I can’t let Dylan be gone in that way. For me, it needs to mean something, and if his name can be associated with a positive change that saves the lives of others, then that’s an important legacy to leave behind.”