Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Stephen Barton, a graduate of Syracuse University and a survivor of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater earlier this year is responding to the tragedy in Connecticut.
Barton, 22, returned to his hometown, just 10 minutes from Newtown, Connecticut where a recent mass shooting took the lives of 20 elementary school children and six adults. He’s now renewing a push for change in American gun laws.
A growing memorial of flowers and teddy bears outside Sandy Hook Elementary School are painful reminders of the Aurora theater shooting.
“Especially in being able to really put myself in that moment, you know, just imagine what it was like in that school,” Barton said.
It’s a sensitivity few can relate to, but after recovering from a shot to the neck during the theater tragedy, and now while walking familiar roads toward the site of new heartache, Barton has even more reason to push for change.
“Our country is long overdue for a serious discussion about guns about and mental health,” Barton said.
A message he’s now pushing with his work at “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” a gun prevention group.
“Fix our background check system and you will make it a lot harder for criminals to get illegal guns,” Barton explained.
And while he admits gun reform might not have been enough to save lives in Newtown, to Barton, “there’s a way to balance our second amendment right to bare arms against public safety.”
Barton is hopeful that the children, who died Friday, did not die in vain and that something will happen to prevent these tragedies from occurring.
Barton will be in Colorado next month to push for tougher gun laws. He says that new line of work has become therapeutic for him in the wake of the theater shooting.