Armchair Historians: Mike Lawlor on the 9-Year Anniversary Sandy Hook

Mike Lawlor Talks Gun Legislation on 9-Year Anniversary of Sandy Hook Shooting Armchair Historians

Anne Marie talks to  American politician, criminal justice professor and author of the first red flag gun law in the nation, Mike Lawlor about the Sandy Hook Shooting and the history of gun legislation.Trigger warning. We talk about gun violence and mass shootings in this episode.This episode is being released on the 9-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Resources: Mike Lawlor Wikipedia: of New Haven: @MikeLawlorArticle in New Haven Register: the State: WFSB 3: Gun Law: What goes into effect and when: WTNH News8: Hook ShootingWikipedia: Interview: Mother of Sandy Hook victim talks path forward after school shootings: Take Action:Sandy Hook Promise: https://www.sandyhookpromise.orgBackground Checks: Hook Promise Learning Center: Coffee to Mourners: Armchair Historians:Patreon: the show (

If you listen to the podcast (Armchair Historians) you may have heard me talk about my home in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado however, prior to moving here in 2013 I lived in Newtown, CT for almost two decades. Of all the places I’ve lived, Newtown was the first to feel like home. I remember driving through the classic pastoral New England landscape dotted with colonial salt box houses for the first time. I felt an immediate connection in my cells, it was a weird almost longing. Several years later the town that hosted Rochambeau and his troops as they marched across Connecticut between Virginia and Providence, Rhode Island in 1781 and 1782 did in fact become my home.

Flash forward to May 2001 when I was hired as a supervisor for an internationally recognized coffee company to work in their Newtown store. It was there that my connection to the town and its people was solidified. Over the next 11 years I would build relationships with regulars that included school teachers, parents of elementary school children who would come to the coffee shop to wait for their kids to finish first communion classes at the Catholic Church next door, Father Bob from that church, several celebrities, local law enforcement and first responders etcetera.

On December 14, 2012 at around 10 am as I was registering for my final semester of grad school, I overheard a woman behind the registrar desk saying there had been a shooting in Newtown. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but was frustrated to find that none of the local radio stations available in my car were carrying the story, so I called my then boyfriend and asked him to get on the computer and do a search, which he did and read a couple of breaking news stories about the horrifying chain of events that had just played out at Sandy Hook Elementary School a school just half mile from the coffee shop. 

It would come out that the son of one of my regular and favorite customers had shot his way through a glass panel next to the locked front entrance doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with his mother’s Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle and ten magazines with 30 rounds each after shooting his mother with a .22-caliber Savage Mark II rifle. Apparently guns where the only way my customer and her son were able to bond. The shooter had a familiarity with and access to his mother’s firearms and ammunition. He also had an obsession with mass murders, in particular the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

I felt a sense of urgency to get to work even though I wasn’t scheduled for another few hours. In a very visceral way I needed to be there for my community and my staff. 

Over the course of the next few hours I would come to serve parents of school aged children who gathered at the coffee shop until they could be reunited with their child because all of the local schools were in lockdown. Some of those parents would not be reunited with their children. 

Lauren Rousseau, who also worked for the same coffee company as me, would valiantly loose her life that day. During the shooting, Rousseau herded her first-grade students into the restroom to hide from the shooter. The shooter found them and opened fire, killing Rousseau and fifteen of her students. Only one of them survived. 

My daughter went to elementary school in Stratford CT with Vicki Soto who also valiantly lost her life trying to protect her students.

Over the coming days and weeks my staff and I would absorb the shock of a community that would never be the same again. Perhaps the worst memories for me are of the “funeral rushes.”  That is the out-the-door-lines of customers attending the back to back funerals of grade schoolers conducted by Father Bob at St. Rose of Lima, the Catholic Church next door.

As you listen to this episode of Armchair Historians, I’d like you to think about what you are doing to bring about change for the future. Mike talks about “incremental change” which seems more attainable than a complete overhaul right now. I too will think about how I can take action in order to honor the precious lives taken on 12/14/12 and how I can be part of the discussion and how I can educate myself to use my vote for policy makers that are working to end gun violence in our country.

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One day (one minute in some cases) at a time

Sometimes one minute at a time

One day at a time

Ronald Mcdonald greeting guests at RMH

If there’s something I’ve learned lately, it’s that I am not in control of the outcome. Since December 14, 2012, the twists and turns of my life’s narrative look nothing like the trajectory that was in my mind on December 13, 2012. Nowhere on my radar of the future was I sitting with my niece today in Aurora, CO looking at an ultrasound of her baby. I had no clue I would be staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Aurora, CO, nor did I imagine so much uncertainty on my future’s horizon. Each event of the recent past seems to have a mission of forcing me into the inevitability of this moment. Loss, in the form of an endless sea of goodbyes and irony (traveling from Newtown, CT to Aurora CO, having doors close and new ones open…) are themes infused into this journey’s tale.

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My Bucket List

Photo by Anne Marie Cannon

Steal Beam, Coat of Arms

‎”It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
― Nelson Mandela

As many of you know I have tossed my hat in the ring of the My Destination’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List contest. I was contacted by the My Destination contest people today. They informed me that they have modified the winner selection process. It goes like this; The top 5 popular voted entries and 5 other entries selected by the contest judges will make up the final round of 10. Those 10 people will be flown to LONDON for a week of activities and interviews with the contest judges announcing the winner at the end of that week. How incredibly wonderful it would be to go back to London, and of course the travel video I submitted to enter the contest is about Winchester England, my favorite place in the world.

There is a lot for me to gain just by being in the top 10, besides the obvious of getting an all expense paid week in the UK. It’s a great way of expanding my writing platform and segue into travel writing. The last time I checked I was in 6th place. I made myself known to all the CT Patch editors on Twitter, some have even begun following my feed. I’m not really sure how to translate those connections into votes, but I’m working on it.

I’m appealing to all of you: A) to vote for me by going to my Biggest Baddest Bucket List: My Destination: Hampshire page and, if you haven’t already, watch the destination video I produced, read my blog post I paused in April on a Footpath, and enjoy the breathtaking images from that hike, B) spread the word that you know someone who is in hot pursuit of her dream and tell them how they can help (people like to help, especially when it involves passion and dreams, it gives them permission to think about their own dreams), and C) Any and all suggestions on how I can can get the word out will be greatly appreciated, I will consider anything at this point.

I’ve got a second wind now, there are 35 days left and I still have tricks up my sleeve. A lot can happen in 35 days. LONDON here I come!!!

Happy Travels,

Anne Marie

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I am a Newtowner

Vote for meSchool Bus headed to Hartford.


Hartford, CT February 14, 2013

Heart Newtown

Heart Newtown

Old School

Those words used to mean nothing to most people, except the few of us that enjoy the pastoral New England countryside and chose to live in Newtown and its surrounding communities. “Newton, Connecticut” is what President Obama mistakenly called our town the first time he uttered the words on television.That was December 14th, 2012. He has not mispronounced it since.The shock of the Shooting at Sandy Hook was felt throughout the country, indeed throughout the world.

Today I piled into an old-fashioned school bus with fellow Newtowners to March For Change at the capital. In the time since the shooting things have quieted down and we, as a community, have started to act out the routine of our lives. In the beginning, the horror story consumed us. We worked hard to make sense out of a senseless act that cost so many people so much. Each day it felt like we would never recover. We all just wanted to do something to help the grieving families that lost loved ones, the children and teachers that survived, the first responders, our fellow Newtowners… The truth is we will never truly recover the old selves we were before 12/14.

Today was about moving forward and what we can do to help.Call your elected officials and demand change. One suggestion I heard today was to call every Friday at 9:30. Ask them what they are doing to make sure that legislation to require that all guns must be registered (we have to register our cars) and that handgun owners must pass a handgun safety test in order to be licensed to own one.Don’t vote for someone unless they support the effort to make our cities, states and country safe.Finally, choose love in any given situation. How does this relate to gun control? Without it, we are doomed. It is the opposite of fear and that the person who pulls the trigger is riddled by some form of fear. Maybe it sounds like a bunch of fluff to you but give it a try.

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I Paused on a Footpath in April

Vote for me on Biggest Baddest Bucket List!

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South Downs Way National Trail footpath

South Downs Way National Trail footpath

Meonstoke, Hampshire, England

I paused in April on a footpath in Hampshire, England. It was during a hike from Warnford to Meonstoke on the leg of the South Downs Way National Trail system that connects the two towns. I had traced my English ancestors back to sixteenth century Meonstoke and decided to make the main character of a novel I am writing come from there as well. I figured one day I would travel there and this way I could kill two birds with one stone by researching for both my family history and the novel when I did. By the time I booked my trip, there were no rooms available at Meonstoke’s sixteenth century Buck’s Head Inn. I needed to see Meonstoke so my only other alternative was to stay in nearby Warnford and hike there.

The day was a mixture of foreboding skies and bursts of brilliant sunshine. That moment, which I captured in one of the pictures I’ve attached, was thus far the best moment in my life. It was in that instant that everything clicked, in that instant I knew there was an infinite universe and I was connected through the gentle country breeze that caressed the skin on my face, I was connected to the freshly fallen spring rain and the green foliage coming to life around me. It was as if everything that had happened in my life up to that point, happened for the purpose of that moment. I had the distinct feeling that I belonged there and that I had been there before although I had not.

I go back there in my mind frequently. It was six hours in an English forest, all by myself, never have I felt so connected.

This Travel Blog post appears in my Biggest Baddest Bucket List entry. I could win a six month world tour as a travel writer. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me, so please check out my video travel blog by clicking on the links provided, then sharing it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumble Upon and/or Google+

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Highlights of Inauguration Day

President Obama


“We are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together…”   President Obama

“The I have a dream, we all keep dreaming, or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today and forever”   Richard Blanco

“We will show the courage to try and solve our differences with other nations peacefully…because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear”   President Obama

“to hear King say our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth…our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts…until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law…”   President Obama
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Serving Coffee to Mourners


Since last Friday I have been serving coffee to mourners. Every single face that has come into view across the short span of my coffee counter since then is a different shade of grief. Each has been affected in a profound way by the most unthinkable of tragedies that recently played out in my community  just one mile away from the local coffee shop I have worked in over the past eleven years . Newtown is my town, I have lived here for over 12 years.

You see, coffee is the medium by which I connect to the canvas of my community’s landscape, a landscape that has been permanently altered. From the tear stained cheeks of high school cheerleaders to the far away stares of coffee shop regulars, they provide me with a frame of reference that, moving forward I will use to to gauge the emotional and spiritual temperature of my community. It is a frame of reference for what is gradually becoming the new normal in Newtown, Connecticut since December 14th, 2012 just shortly after 9:30am.

Tomorrow it will be exactly one week since the unthinkable happened. I invite you to observe a moment of silence tomorrow at 9:30 am for the victims of The Sandy Hook School shooting.

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400 Saturdays

an anthology of vinyl folklore

400 Saturdays
By Kim Johnson-Bair

On a recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin I had the great pleasure of meeting 400 Saturdays: An Anthology of Vinyl Folklore author Kim Johnson-Bair. We talked about the book over old-fashioned milk shakes and burgers. Kim’s love of vinyl began in childhood when she would watch the muted Saturday morning cartoons flash across the television screen to the soundtrack of Motown 45s she and her brother would take turns playing on the family’s old stereo console.

This anthology of vinyl folklore is told through the interviews and anecdotes of fellow vinyl enthusiasts from Madison, the Midwest and beyond.

L.P. Crawford was born in Portage, Wisconsin. The first record she ever purchased was “That Old Black Magic” by Vaughn Monroe in 1941. “I was working at the time and I bought a record nearly every week.”

Pradip Sen was born in Calcutta in 1926. He was introduced to live performance around 1950 when Count Base toured India.

Sybil Augustine turned her mom onto the Beatles. She bought her first 45, “Come Together” for ninety-nine cents at Kresge’s or Hudsons in Downtown Detroit, her mom bought “Something.”

Madison’s db pedersen bought his first LP, Yes’ Close to the Edge, in Chapalitas in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was 12 and had just been transplanted from the familiar comfort of California and didn’t have a record player.  According to db “I couldn’t even play it…I could just look at the art on the album cover…it was my tool to escape where I was.”

Bair’s book conjures the significant touchstones of vinyl’s history through the alchemy of our listening experience. Each story related in 400 Saturdays is like the carefully selected and arranged songs on a great LP. Rock on and thanks for the memories vinyl.

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Staying Alive: A Love Story by Laura B. Hayden

Staying Alive: A Love Story by Laura B. Hayden

Laura B. Hayden has written a gripping memoir about losing the love of her life in the midst of their happily ever after narrative. Larry wasn’t suppose to die yet, he was only 49 and Laura still needed his loving and steadfast companionship to finish raising their two children and walk off into the sunset of retirement hand in hand. His dying wasn’t part of the deal. It is a story “of loss and recovery about the author’s search for meaning” after losing Larry.

Through eloquent prose, Laura takes us on her ten year journey of moving forward. Each essay captures some important event along the road of healing. She craftily infuses each scene with wit and the important insights she later renders from them.

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Early Influences

When I was a kid, I would sit for hours playing the LP record albums of my five older siblings, studying each album cover as if my life depended on committing every artistic nuance in it to memory. Of course that was back in the day, when the album cover ruled.

Being the youngest of six children, I was fortunate to have three older brothers and two sisters, all with different taste in music. Which is why I believe to this day I have an eclectic palate when it comes to music, why I go through phases seeking out new bands/musicians, then obsessively listening to them. I then take to the internet to discover every thing there is to know about them, there music, their influences…Time I might have spent studying their album covers, if they were as relevant as they were back in the late sixties, early seventies.

So as I find myself traveling southbound on a train leaving London thirty years later, the Battersea Power Station situated on the south bank of the Thames comes into view, memories come flooding into the reservoir of my conscious mind. I think about my brother Michael who was and still is a huge Pink Floyd fan. I see the album cover of Animals in my mind’s eye and I am transported to the living room at 1502 Ridgewood, Lakewood, Ohio. Sitting, or laying on the shag carpet before the hi fi stereo with headphones on, blocking out the late seventies world in which I traversed, listening to Pigs on the Wing. Amazingly the sky is the same shade of blue this day as it appears on the album cover.

When I get to my hotel room in Petersfield, England where I have traveled to conduct historical research for the novel I am working on and tracing the journey of my own ancestors, I take to the internet where I discover the Battersea Power Station’s history. It breaks my heart to learn that it lingers on the verge of destruction due physical decay and lack of funds available for anyone who cares enough to develop. I learn that it is a decommissioned coal-fired power station build in the 1930’s, that it once boasted a beautiful art deco interior and that the station ceased generating electricity in 1983.

Over the past fifty years the station has gained a degree of celebrity status making appearances in such things as the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock film Sabotage, the 1965 Beatles film Help!, and the more recent Batman film The Dark Knight just to name a few.

Of course my frame of reference for this historical landmark will always be my brother Mike and his Pink Floyd album cover.

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