SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Family members who lost children in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting gathered in San Francisco Thursday with some of the top Bay Area technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, announcing an initiative with the aim of reducing gun violence through technological innovation.

The Sandy Hook Promise Innovation Initiative, named for the school where the tragedy occurred last December, was unveiled at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

The group formed as a spontaneous grassroots effort following the tragedy at Sandy Hook and was initially spearheaded by Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway. “We are just getting started,” Conway said. “This effort will be a marathon, not a sprint, and we are very determined.”

Prizes will be awarded nationally for the best innovations as the tech community holds an “innovative challenge.” One venture capital group said they are hoping to raise $15 million in first year seed funding for 15-20 companies that are working on the issue.

Jim Pitkow heads the Tech Committee for Gun Safety, a Bay Area task force looking into high-tech methods of gun safety.

“Spanning hardware and software, consumer applications, enterprise applications, Internet technologies and gun safety technologies,” he said.

Some of the technology they are looking at includes smart guns, safer schools, swifter response times and better mental health diagnosis.

Among those at Thursday’s gathering was Nicole Hockley, who’s six-year-old son Dylan was killed in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Though there have been many senseless losses before and since Sandy Hook, we’re determined to make this a turning point for our country,” she said.

All told, three families from Connecticut joined three from the Bay Area who have also lost children in presenting the initiative.

The announcement on Thursday marked the three-month anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he is determined to reduce gun violence legislatively, noting that on Wednesday he signed into law two ordinances banning possession of hollow-point ammunition in the city and requiring businesses to notify police if 500 rounds of ammunition are sold in one purchase.

“Even if there’s a remote possibility of preventing another tragedy, we are morally bound to do so,” Lee said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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