Parents Call for Tighter Gun Laws in Tense Hearing

Two sides clashed in Hartford Monday as parents of those lost in the Dec. 14 shooting, as parents made pleas for both social change and gun laws.


Both sides knew it would be a heated debate. And it was.

Advocates for and against gun control clashed in Hartford Monday at a public hearing for the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety, set up in response to the tragic shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Both sides knew the atmosphere would be tense, and that the Legislative Office Building in Hartford would be packed. Anticipating a huge crowd, police put additional security measures in place, including metal detectors.

More than 1,300 people signed up to speak, according to ABC News, with wait times as long as two hours.

One of those speakers was Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Jessie Heslin, a shooting victim. Heslin was one of three parents of children lost on Dec. 14 to speak at the hearing, along with Veronique Pozner and Mark Mattioli.

Heslin went head-to-head with gun control advocates, according to Fox News, saying he couldn't see a reason for any civilian to own a high-powered assault rifle like an AR-15 or an AK-47.

"The sole purpose of those ... is put a lot of lead out on the battlefield quickly. And that's what they do. And that's what they did at Sandy Hook Elementary on the 14th," said Heslin.

A handful of crowd members shouted back about Second Amendment rights.

Pozner and Mattioli took the discussion deeper, asking questions about civility in today's society and the problem of evil. Pozner, who described her son as a "young philosopher," said she didn't always have the answers to his thoughtful questions, according to ABC.

She said Noah used to ask, "If there are bad guys out there, why can't they just all wake up one day and decide to be good?"

"The problem is a lack of civility," said Mattioli, who also called for stricter enforcement of existing laws, according to the Hartford Courant. "I believe in a few simple gun laws. I think we have more than enough on the books ... We should hold people individually accountable for their actions."

Response from pro-gun advocates was spurred by groups like Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the largest gun advocacy groups in the U.S. The group was thrown into the spotlight shortly after the December shooting when news organizations like the Huffington Post noticed its coincidental presence in Newtown.

Representatives from the NSSF joined Connecticut-based gun manufacturers, including Colt and Mossberg & Sons, in a press conference in Hartford Monday prior to the start of the hearing.

"We’re here to listen to what the legislature has to say and to work with the legislature, to be at the table to craft a solution," said NSSF Vice President Lawrence Keene at the conference, according to a release from the group's web site.

An widely distributed online action alert encouraging supporters to attend the hearing and sign up to speak bore stronger language, calling potential gun control measures "draconian" and "knee-jerk reaction legislation" that would make Connecticut gun owners "instant criminals."

"Legislators in Hartford are in the process of destroying your Second Amendment rights by exploiting recent tragedies," said the release.

Today's hearing will be the second of four the Task Force is holding. On Wednesday, the legislature will travel to Newtown for the final hearing at Newtown High School.

Skip February 01, 2013 at 07:51 PM
If you remember the State Police apprehended a hunter near Sandy Hook. Who was later released. Our Founding Fathers would not ratify the Constitution without the Bill of Rights. So, yes it is part of the Constitution. To protect the people against a totalitarian government. Yesterday in Atlanta, a 14 yr. old (illegal possession) shot another student and was apprehended by an armed Security Ofc. Homeland Security is telling the public. If confronted with an active shooter, to hide underneath desks and protect yourself by grabbing scissors. I think anyone would say, are you kidding me. Homeland Insecurity might as well tell you to "kiss your a** goodbye". There are more then enough gun laws already on the books, enforce them. I stand by what I wrote earlier. The Police can't protect you, unless they are right there. A great response time is 3 minutes. Russia was not always communist and Germany was not Nazi Germany until 1933. Gun Registration "This year will go down in history for the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, the police will be more efficient, and the world will follow us into the future." Adolf Hitler 1933
Jaybee February 01, 2013 at 09:45 PM
I am guessing that I will not convince you all that your constiitutional right to bear arms is still in place, no matter how many different ways I put it. People also have a constitutional right to say what they think, stupid or otherwise. They do not have a constitutional right to yell fire in a crowded theatre. Using that example, do people have a constitutional right to possess a weapon that will fire thirty rounds in twenty seven seconds (Colorado) or kill twenty six people in about three minutes, wounding each individual multiple times (Newtown)? That is what the discussion is about, not your right to bear arms. I'm fine with talking about improving mental health. I'm even willing to discuss allowing kids to play violent video games for hours. I just heard today that the nine year old who was killed in the Giffords attack was killed with the thirteen bullet in the attackers clip. Why does your "right" to an extended clip exceed her right to life? What bothers me most is that you guys don't want to look for or discuss solutions, you what to talk about how it affects you, without understanding our constitution and how we make laws.
Skip February 02, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Dear Jaybee, Yes we all have a Right to Freedom of Speech. Whether or not we agree or disagree. I do, however take acception to your comment stupid or otherwise. Stupid is subjective, as to where you stand on an issue. I'm sure many people who read your opinion may think your arguement is stupid. So, lets assume that we're both educated. We merely disagree on a topic. Just in case you are assuming (not that it any of your business).I do not own an assault weapon (believe it or not) I think the government has become to BIG. The media fails to challange those in power.Our representives all say they want to do what's best for us. If that were true they'd fix the economy but that's too hard. It could cost them their jobs. It's much easier to pass another gun law. So, next time they're up for election. They can say their tough on crime. It's all BS! A photo op for them.
Jaybee February 02, 2013 at 03:56 AM
So, if you think I was suggesting that I found your comments stupid, I apologize. That was not my intention. I have recently seen Rosa Delauro speaking about the mayor of New Haven. I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. But she has a right to say it. I am looking for you guys to offer opinions on how we stop the excessive killing. That is my point here.
Arbie February 02, 2013 at 04:22 AM
The answer to your question can not be fully done here in this forum but this is a start. It is not cut and dry. 1: Revamp the HIPPA laws and reporting requirements of mental patients. Provide mandatory treatment. National data base for schizophrenics and patients on mind altering medications. Tie that data base in to a mandatory national back ground check for all gun sales and transfers. 2: Fund and reopen the closed state run mental hospitals. 3: Enforce all the firearm laws already on the books. 4: Eliminate so called gun free zones and have state concealed pistol permits recognized nationwide like a driver's license, and treat the legal gun owner with some respect. If you are have a heart attach you would want a bystander to be CPR trained, so you should appreciate a legal gun wearing bystander equipped to help if a nut case has a bad day.


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