J.T. Lewis was simply 12 years previous when his youthful brother, Jesse Lewis, stood as much as a gunman who had entered his first-grade classroom, earlier than taking pictures and killing 20 harmless younger kids and 6 workers members at Sandy Hook Elementary College. Jesse screamed for his classmates to run whereas the gunman reloaded his weapon, standing beside his instructor the entire time. 

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Jesse’s heroic actions on December 14, 2012 helped saved 9 of his classmates earlier than he misplaced his personal life, an act of bravery J.T. says has since impressed him to run to try to unseat a three-term incumbent within the Connecticut State Senate.

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“I imagine that inside each single one in all us is that very same sense of innate braveness that we by no means knew we needed to do one thing extraordinary,” Lewis, who’s working as a Republican, mentioned in a marketing campaign video. “And to honor Jesse, I’ve determined to be brave sufficient to run for state Senate in my dwelling state of Connecticut.”  

The now 19-year-old launched his candidacy on social media on Tuesday, saying his run in opposition to the GOP incumbent Tony Hwang of Connecticut’s 28th state senate district is a private one. In his marketing campaign launch video, Lewis recalled making a telephone name to Hwang’s workplace within the wake of the mass taking pictures, imploring his senator to stop future tragedies from occurring. That decision, he mentioned, was by no means returned. 

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“The little boy who simply wished somebody to listen to his mother’s requires assist has grown up,” mentioned Lewis. “I am getting into the fray as a result of it is just with actual management that Connecticut will see change that it’s so determined for.”

Lewis advised CBS Information that his private connection to the nation’s gun points and being a younger Republican makes him “uniquely positioned to deliver either side of the isle collectively.”

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“All of us, Republicans and Democrats, wish to see youngsters secure in school. We’re simply coming at it from completely different angles,” mentioned Lewis. He mentioned that if elected, he has a three-pronged strategy to tackling the difficulty of faculty violence, addressing “psychological well being, gun laws, and securing colleges.”  

Lewis, a scholar on the College of Connecticut, has taken his advocacy for gun security to the White Home and was invited to take part in a round-table dialogue with President Trump final December. Lewis has praised the Trump administration for taking extra proactive steps to stopping mass taking pictures occasions than his predecessors. 

JT Lewis, brother of Sandy Hook sufferer Jesse Lewis, speaks to President Donald Trump throughout a roundtable dialogue on the Federal Fee on College Security report, within the Roosevelt Room of the White Home, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, in Washington.

Evan Vucci / AP

“We have met with governors; we have met with senators.  We met with the earlier administration — the President and the Secretary of Training. And everybody wished to concentrate on a sure difficulty…And I will not say it, however they did not wish to concentrate on college security, which is crucial factor,” Lewis advised Mr. Trump on the White Home final 12 months. 

“As I study going again to high school in Newtown — Sandy Hook — the faculties turn into infinitely safer the day after the taking pictures.  They implement all of these items, and you’re feeling utterly secure on this college that simply had a taking pictures yesterday. So this must get into the faculties earlier than one thing like that occurs,” Lewis mentioned, advocating for enhanced safety measures in colleges. 

The Trump White Home has endorsed some efforts to curb gun violence, together with The Repair NICS Act, which strengthens background checks for firearm purchases, in addition to the STOP College Violence Act, which offers grants to varsities to enhance security.

Hwang, who’s served within the state senate since 2014, has supported different efforts to handle college security within the wake of the Sandy Hook taking pictures. In 2016, he launched laws in Connecticut to extend legal penalties if a risk entails a preschool, Okay-12 college or an establishment of upper schooling.

Requested about his problem in 2020, Hwang advised CBS Information: “I recognize and respect anybody’s need to run for public workplace. I like representing the individuals of the 28th District. My expertise, file of accomplishments and engaged illustration of our communities speaks for itself.”

He added, “I do my greatest day by day to work for and symbolize all the residents of the 28th District. I’m honored and privileged to function the State Senator and can proceed to do all I can to be a voice our constituents will be pleased with.”

Lewis, in the meantime, vowed that he would do his greatest to bridge a divided political world,” ought to he win. He’ll face Hwang within the August major in 2020.


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