Nicole Hockley, the mother of six-year-old Dylan Hockley, a victim of the senseless 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., recently held a Press Conference here in Allentown. She joined Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller, and Allentown Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald to publicly endorse an anti-gun violence bill that keeps firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.
“Dylan was my superman,” said Hockley, as she showed a picture of the first grader wearing a Superman t-shirt. “He loved chocolate, the moon and garlic bread,” she said as she held back tears.
Hockley, Communications Director for Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group of parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, is on a national tour to gain bi-partisan support for the bill known as “Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities.”
“Local leaders understand the importance of equipping our community organizations and law enforcement with the infrastructure needed to identify and address mental health issues as it relates to preventing violence,” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “I am proud to stand with Nicole today in support of this vital piece of legislation. I truly hope our members of Congress will do the same thing.”
The bill, also known as H.R. 4783, was introduced by U. S. Representative Mike Thompson (D- CA), and would provide funding for school and community-based mental and behavioral health services, as well as training police officers to better handle incidents involving people who are mentally ill. In addition, the bill would stop domestic abusers and the mentally ill from purchasing guns by closing background check loopholes.
“If we can’t unite around some common-sense gun laws, then maybe we can unite around issues of mental illness, to make sure that we have proper funding for mental health and to make sure that those with mental illness do not have the capacity or the ability to get a gun. I don’t think this is a lot to ask,” said Mayor Pawlowski.
The legislature was first proposed after the shooting in Santa Barbara that killed six people this past May. In both the Santa Barbara and Sandy Hook shootings, the perpetrators had a history of mental illness, as well as access to guns. Muller and Fitzgerald said that the bill would give communities more money and resources to properly address violence concerning the mentally ill.
During the event, Nicole Hockley asked lawmakers to have courage and pass the bill into law. She spoke about how much she has missed her son since his passing, and gets sad when she hears her older son, Jake, playing alone and without his younger brother.
“We should have a bipartisan approach and bipartisan support for this type of initiative. And if our legislators don’t get behind it — I’m going to be a little more straightforward — shame on them if they don’t get behind this,” concluded the Mayor.