speaking up

Melissa Joan Hart Gets Personal In Gut-Wrenching Speech During A Senate Gun Violence Roundtable

"We are not free if we have to live in fear."

Melissa Joan Hart spoke at a senate roundtable regarding her personal experiences with gun violence ...
@therecount / TikTok

Actor, director, and general sweetheart of America, Melissa Joan Hart joined with victims of gun violence to call on lawmakers to take action on gun control reform. Hart recounted her personal experiences with gun violence during a Senate roundtable event, recalling details of not one but two occasions when gun violence hit way too close to home.

Hart — best known for her roles in television series including Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch — was living in Fairfield County, Connecticut, at the same time a shooter went into Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and killed 20 first-grade students and six adults. Hart’s own first grader was at a school nearby.

“My entire life changed that day, and my political views changed that day,” Hart explained.

However, her close encounters with school gun violence were not over. At the time of the Covenant School shooting in March 2023, Hart said she helped Nashville kids flee to safety.

“And as I reached to help the children and help them cross the road, it became clear that whatever they were running from was scarier than these cars in the street. And the fear on their faces and the terror and the confusion as we got them to safety,” she said.

“And then the six ambulances that drove by us and let us know exactly what it happened. These memories will not allow me to stop fighting for ways to keep our children, our communities, and our country safer.”

“That day, we lost three educators and three third-grade children from the Covenant School, and my youngest son was in the third grade at the time. And once again, tragedy hit so close to home, and I had to stop and wonder, once again, Will we be next?

Hart went on to explain that she was once a “staunch second amendment woman,” however, after the Sandy Hook shooting, Hart began to think differently about gun safety.

“...I spent months of sleepless nights praying for the families of that nearby town. I started wanting to make sure that that could never happen again, and in digging and educating myself on guns and gun laws across the nation, I learned that laws do change,” she said.

“That in fact, it happens all the time to make our world a safer place.”

Hart mentioned that Madd (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) had been successful in preventing drunk driving accidents over “tough, relentless years of battles with politicians.” Hart believes in change because she’s seen the change.

Before her encounters with gun violence, Hart’s idea of what freedom in America meant was more of a traditional, textbook version where everyone is entitled to their rights as an American as put by the Constitution. Turns out, that’s not what freedom is at all.

“...Now I can say that we are not free as long as weapons of war are allowed in the hands of untrained, unchecked citizens,” she said.

“We are not free if our children are forced to practice lockdown drills at school and at church. And we are not free if we have to live in fear.”

Hart’s powerful testimony speaks to the fact that it shouldn’t take multiple personal experiences with gun violence to want this kind of change. We should all want this kind of change. It’s quite literally a life-and-death situation.

Firearms recently became the number one cause of death for children in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and those caused by other injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated official mortality data that showed 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2020 — a new peak.

The attack at the Covenant School was the 129th mass shooting of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Since then, there have been over 200 more.

It appears now, more than ever, we need moms and public figures like Hart to demand industry regulations to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens against gun violence.