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.

Jaybee January 30, 2013 at 01:17 PM
George, The shooter in Colo. fired thirty shots in twenty seven seconds. He was apprehended in seven minutes, after shooting seventy people and killing twelve. The Newtown shooter shot each six year old multiple times. I am gullible for wanting to stop that? Australia has a law that allows gun owners to possess assault rifles. They must be kept at the firing range, or under special conditions in their own home. You can have them, but you must be willing to allow authorities to check and see that they are secured properly. That may not have stopped shooting at Newtown, but it may have stopped the shooter from carrying in all of that firepower. You have said all of the things you are against. How about a proposal? Suggest something, rather than being an impediment.
Skip January 30, 2013 at 01:19 PM
I don't know where you get your facts 2-8% are not assault rifles. Less then 5% of gun violence comes from Long guns( rifles and shotguns included. Most of the gun violence comes from people who are not trained, legal permit holders or can legally own or possess a firearm. Example 95% of the urban violence in Ct's cities. Little gangbangers afraid to go one on one with someone. It's easier to fire a gun than maybe getting punched back. Crimnals will always get guns. Did you know more people in the U.S. were bludgened to death in the last few years than shot?
Bill Fasula January 30, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I have not read any definitive report that Lanza used an AR-15 to kill the children. Instead of knee jerk reactions, it would be intelligent to get the facts first. But our politicians don't want to be confused by facts.
Mike Atkins January 30, 2013 at 02:47 PM
"If I'm ever in that situation. I won't hesitate bring it to a quick end......" Says every gun owner carrying the water for the NRA.
Mike Atkins January 30, 2013 at 02:48 PM
That's because most of the pro gun control people have jobs.
Mike Atkins January 30, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Officers Chapman and Smith confirmed that a rail-thin 20-year-old named Adam Lanza, armed with a .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic carbine, two semiautomatic pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, had blasted his way through the glass. Are you saying that police officers lie to push an agenda?
Skip January 30, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Holmes the Colorado shooter was in a gun free zone. He walked though a metal detector and passed an extra duty Police Ofc. He walked into the theatre out the emergency door to his car and got his guns. My son and daughter in law have been to that theatre. I'm very familiar with Colorado's gun laws. Colorado is a pro gun state and I'm sure many of the people attending the movie left their legal weapons at home. Too bad, someone could have saved Colorado a lot of money in trials, lawyers, and prison. Again the point you don't deprieve people of their lawful rights. You enforce the laws on the books. Hippa prevents doctors from reporting the mentally distrubed who seek treatment. Newtown was a terrible. No one can argue with that. The kid was mentally sick his mother and others knew it. It should have and could have been stopped. If you remember Holmes' family was not surprised when informed of the incident by the police.
Arbie January 30, 2013 at 03:53 PM
All we are saying is don't follow the heard of sheep and wait for the official CT State Police report to come out.
Daria Novak January 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Why isn't anyone talking about the huge number of lives guns save every year? It is massive. If the argument is solely about "things" that kill & not an overly emotional argument, then our legislators should be talking statistically about the "things" that do the killing. Where are the petitions to outlaw the #1 "thing" that kills? It is baseball bats! Then does Hartford move to add in cars, kitchen knives, etc. It's not going to solve the issue. It's using the same faulty logic as anti-2nd Amendment types. My point is mentally ill people, not guns kill. On balance, guns save many more lives than they harm. Laws are on the books & it doesn't stop criminals from obtaining a weapon or the insane individual determined to do harm. The argument right now is an emotional one& that's not the time to pass faulty new laws. We need to think rationally about the long-term consequences of new legislation, its impact on our Constitutional rights, etc. It is highly ignorant of anyone to think that putting yet another law on the books is going to stop violence. Governments still do become tyrannical & too powerful today. The Founding Fathers gave us recourse to stop a potential dictatorship. The 2nd Amendment is vital and important. Rule of law protects us. We the people are supposed to be in charge yet we are losing ground. It is time for every American to draw a line in the sand, develop a backbone, & say "enough." Government has taken away too much with no end in sight.
George Kenyon January 30, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Timothy McVeigh Killed 4 times that many people and never fired a shot. My point is when there is a will, it will be carried out. proposal 1 - stricter enforcement of the laws we already have, Increasing the penalties for criminals possesing firearms, no plea bargains, early release or other slaps on the wrist. Stop flooding our streets with them to save money. Proposal 2- Mandatory treatment and hospitalization of people who threaten or attempt to harm themselves or others. Another cost saving measure done by the State of CT. Proposal 3- Mandatory reporting by clinicians to law enforcement of people who threaten or attempt to harm themselves or others. Proposal 3 - Mandatory background checks for ALL firearms purchases, Including private sales. Most of whats being proposed on the national level is already law in Connecticut. To propose taxes and extrodinary fees is ridiculous and accomplishes nothing except the state in our pockets even further.
George Kenyon January 30, 2013 at 06:38 PM
No one owns assault weapons, we own black rifles that look scary.
Harry January 30, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Peter T. Cianelli January 30, 2013 at 06:52 PM
The Second Amendment was put into place to guarantee the rights of the individual to be equally armed as military, both foreign and domestic, in the event that the citizenry might actually, at some point, have to fight their own government if we're going to have a debate about what rights we're actually going to guarantee under the Constitution, then we need to have an honest debate about what the Founders were attempting to guarantee "The Second Amendment is about making sure the population would not be controlled, dominated or oppressed by a government the principle of what they put into place had nothing to do with the kind of weapon they were guaranteeing, it was simply about matching force."
Arbie January 30, 2013 at 07:11 PM
My God, when will all the sheeple wake up??? Look at what is happening right now in Alabama! Another nut job with a history of gun issues. Nobody did a damm thing when he shot off is gun for no good reason except he is a nut. Well all the gun laws did nothing for the dead schoolbus driver or the abducted six year old hostage. Stop going for my legal guns!! I have a permit and a complete back ground check. I am certainly more mentally stable than some cops carrying high lethal fire power. Wake up sheeple...forget the feel good proposed gun laws and go after the mentally unstable!!!!!
police_bully_innocent_children January 30, 2013 at 10:47 PM
police_bully_innocent_children January 30, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Scapegoating the mentally ill will not solve the gun violence problem in America. Curbing access to guns will. Daria and her crew of right wing, extremists are, thank God, the minority. Although they would most certainly have us beloved otherwise. Actually mentally ill people are much more likely to be victims of violent crimes than to commit them. Try again liar.
police_bully_innocent_children January 30, 2013 at 10:59 PM
The United States has the highest gun murder rate in the world. No holds barred. Could access to guns be the reason?
NRA_Enemy_List January 30, 2013 at 11:12 PM
NRA_Enemy_List January 30, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Daria, as a member of the NRA, do you condone this NRA blacklist? http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022282291
Arbie January 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Sorry but I am not scapegoating anyone, I'm just stating the truth and telling it like it is. Lock up the criminal mental patents like was done years ago instead of opening all the gates to the mental hospitals and closing them down like this great state of Connecticut government did. What a big mistake that was. Now we have to pay the price. 27 innocent people just paid the ultimate price for this state's blunder. How come no one is talking about that huh??? Blame the tools all you want if that will make you feel good, but I will fight you all the way if you try to take away my right and tools to protect my loved ones and friends. Those of you sheeple that blame "assault weapons" are so ignorant its not funny any more. You are all pathetic. You think you are so educated, well educate yourselves on what you are talking about before you keep spouting your ignorant hot air.
Jaybee January 31, 2013 at 09:33 AM
A few points; Skip- bludgeoning a person is different that shooting 70, or 26. The guy in CO had a 100 round drum and two extended clips,, purchased by him legally. If someone in a darkened theatre had gotten off a shot, after he put out 30 rounds in 27 seven seconds, how many less people would have been shot? Only 35? Are you OK with that? George some common sense proposals. A good start. Arbie, Pete and Daria - nobody is taking away your second amendment rights. You 2nd Amendment guys need to study the Constitution. The Constitution frames the outline from which laws can be made, not the other way around. The Supreme Court has ruled, confirming 2nd Amendment rights. To suggest someone is taking away the gun is have is fearmongering. Be reasonable, be a part of the discussion. Arbie, throw the mentally ill in jail? Jails are overcrowded now, should we build more? Finally, there are some 198 million cars on the road. People have them registered and are licensed (every four to six years) to drive. Occasionally, a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, and kills himself or others. Statistically insignifciant to the number of cars on the road. We try to stop them , enact laws, etc. It got greatly reduced when an effort was made to stop it, on TV, at bars. Individuals now get designated drivers, or tell someone drunk to take a cab. It's not perfect, but saves lives. If it means Arbie needs to keep his Bushmaster only at the range, I'm OK with that.
Skip January 31, 2013 at 12:10 PM
I am not OK with anyone shooting innocent people. The fact Holmes or anyone else might hesitate knowing there a chance someone may shoot them in self defense and kill them. You'll note many of the perpetrators in these mass shooting kill them selves when confronted with the Police. I can tell you, having been a cop for 36 yrs. unless the cop is right there your on your own. This is a gun grab plain and simple. The assault weapon at Sandy Hook was in his car and never used in the school. This was reported on NBC a rather liberal station. The FBI saw no drop in the murder/ assault rate during the 1994 assault weapons ban. As far as the Constitution goes our Founding Fathers would not ratify it without the "Bill Of Rights" which includes the 2nd amendment. It was there to protect the people from government. The Communiist and Nazis banned private gun ownership. How did that workout?
Jaybee January 31, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Skip, Are you serious, or are you trying to deflect from the issue? The United States is not a communist country, nor does it have a Nazi government. The Bill of Rights is a part of the Constitution, not separate from it. The Founding Fathers allowed the Constitution to be "amended" hence the term, second amendment. A law cannot be enacted which violates the Constitution. Your gun grab claims have only help to triple the cost of semi-automatic weapons and cause Walmart to limit ammunition purchases. Good job Police reported arriving at Sandy Hook three minutes after the 911 call and also reported hearing rifle fire. Do you doubt your brethen in uniform? Lanza killed twenty six people in that three to four minute period, after shooting his way into the school. Why would you not want to stop this from happening? Go back and read George's proposals. Are you against them all? If you truly are in law enforcement, I sure you can tell us things that have worked to deter crime and things that have not. We need a discussion about what can be done. Mass killings are going on in our country, more than anywhere else in this world, communist countries included. I would thing someone who has sworn to uphold the law would want to do something about that.
Arbie February 01, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Jaybee, Part 1 of 2 No the sky is not falling, just everyone's individual freedoms and liberties. The problem is not just gun control issues, it is about the rights of all of us that are being chipped away since 9/11/01. Every time you give something up you can never get it back. Look around you...cameras everywhere, audio recordings, Patriot Act - what a joke in the name of National Security. The list goes on and on forever and ever. Billons and billions of dollars were spent and made in the name of security. BS...when does it end? Every time a major event takes place more and more of our liberties are taken away by our government. Who does it all effect? Us - the innocent little guy. Stuffy uptight people have been trying for many years to go after our right of self protection and the tools we need to do so. Now we have nut jobs that our liberal society lets live among us, they wake up with a bad day, kill, and now you want to come after the legit gun owners and their tools???
Arbie February 01, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Part 2 of 2 Look at the Rosa Delauro's article in the New Haven Register this morning....all hot air and BS. She has no clue what she and the idiot gun owner are talking about. The last sentence says it all...Lt Vance knows what he is talking about, and knows the difference between an assault weapon and a semiautomatic AR15, maybe you all should read what he said. So I do have a glimmer of hope that those who are at the top in power will do the right thing and not pass any idiotic feel good gun laws. But and here is the scary part that has all of us worried....one stroke of the pen on an executive order can change things for the worse and do nothing to stop the real problem with mental health.
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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