Newtown Group Forms to Take Action on Gun Violence

New advocacy group plans to lobby for legislation to prevent gun violence.

A group of Newtown residents came together Tuesday to push for state and federal legislation they say will prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

The newly formed group, Newtown Action Alliance (at first Newtown Never Again, which was discarded for having negative connotations), met for the first time Tuesday night at C. H. Booth Library, where they discussed proposals for gun control legislation, the hearings being held by the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety, last Saturday’s and the upcoming Feb. 14 march in Hartford.

The 50-plus attendees included current and former Newtown residents, Sandy Hook parents, teachers, a former police officer, a retired army officer and a few gun control advocates from around the local area, many with connections to Newtown and Sandy Hook. But most of the people in attendance categorized themselves as newcomers to activism with a sincere desire — and in some cases a self-described compulsion — to get involved and affect meaningful change.

“What I’ve been hearing from people is a desire to take action but they’re not really sure how to start, where to go, what to do,” the group’s founder, Dave Ackert, explained. “After coming back on Sunday, after the march [in D.C.], and hearing from people who were there how profound a day it was,” he was moved to create an “action-based organization.”

This intent behind Newtown Action Alliance (NAA) separates it from other local groups, like Sandy Hook Promise, in that the new organization plans to take a firm position on legislation to curb mass gun violence and be fervent activists in the cause.

“We want to ensure what happened in Newtown never happens again by coordinating actions that can be taken to make a difference,” Ackert said.

Resident Jennifer Killin, who has two first graders at Head O' Meadow, said she has had a hand in some activist causes since college. But gun control legislation “has for the last six weeks consumed me, as I’m sure it has everyone else.”

“I have to be part of the solution,” she said. “It’s not a choice.”

Miranda Pacchiana, a mother of three children who went through Sandy Hook Elementary, was at both the march in Washington and the first public hearing on Monday. She said there has to be a sensible approach that may not please everyone, but that most parties will agree is valid — a sentiment that carried through much of the group gathered Tuesday.

“I think that we’re hearing a lot of extreme points of view but there’s truth to both sides,” Pacchiana said. “We have to understand that not everybody lives in Newtown — people live in different environments with different challenges.”

Many members of the group stressed that they are not against the Second Amendment so long as there are regulations, such as limits on high-capacity magazines, background checks for all gun purchases and permitting for ammunition.

Pacchiana also mentioned the culture of violence in America and suggested that the group make that a focus of their efforts as well.

“In the last 20 years the balance has shifted so far to being a more violent society,” she said. “It’s really out of balance and we need to put it back in balance.”

Newtown resident and former police officer Darren Wagner agreed, speaking to the culture and atmosphere guns produce.

“For 10 years I was paid to carry a gun; when I was off duty I carried a gun — it generates a sense of paranoia,” Wagner said.

“These kind of guns, you don’t need them,” he added, speaking specifically of assault rifles like the AR-15. “As officers, we don’t want to face them… they don’t give us a chance. I’ve had friends killed, seen what it does to families. I’ve seen it all — now I’ve seen it in my own town.”

After Dec. 14, Wagner, like almost every attendee in the room Tuesday, said he couldn’t sit idle anymore.

“Our family decided to speak up and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

“We didn’t ask to be in this fight, but we are now,” Ackert said, urging residents to show up Wednesday night at Newtown High School for the second hearing of the Task Force. “Even if you choose not to speak, showing up matters.”

Ackert also implored residents to write their representatives in Hartford and Washington, “now, everyday for the next 30 days,” while lawmakers consider critical legislation on gun control.

Confiscate Guns Now January 31, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Confiscate Guns Now! How many more must die? http://www.confiscategunsnow.wordpress.com Looking for like minded people to get this going. It's time.
Tom jones January 31, 2013 at 02:03 AM
How about a conservative Supreme Court judge: a portion from Scalia’s Heller opinion in which he interprets a 1939 U.S. Supreme Court decision as giving Second Amendment protection to weapons “in common use at the time” of its adoption. According to Scalia, “We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”
Tom jones January 31, 2013 at 02:13 AM
The grand purpose of the Constitution is stated in the first sentence. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States." The Declaration of Independence declares immediately that we should all have the unalienable right to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Where is the Justice in twenty children getting shot dead by a mentally ill boy with such easy access to such powerful weapons? How can Liberty thrive when fear is so pervasive? Where is the inalienable right to Happiness for the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of those killed, who will mourn for the rest of their lives? Violence and fear of violence makes Tranquility impossible, perhaps most of all for people so anxious about guns they feel the need to buy guns to protect themselves from guns
Joe January 31, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Tom, I'm pretty sure we have ensured the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by outlawing murder. The quantities of laws broken that day is in the dozens. Legislate every crazy act to what end? Scalia? Didn't his majority opinion blow up DC's unconstitutional weapons ban? And you cite a few words from it? We already are the 5th most responsible state according to the Brady Rankings. We already make it extremely difficult for the bad guys to get guns. We already perform background checks for all legal transfers. What exactly are you looking to happen in the CT legislature? Give details, not rhetoric.
Tony January 31, 2013 at 03:48 AM
The Shill....LOL. Do you really think we could fight back against our military with our guns...LOL. Come on man. Why does anyone in the US need a weapon of mass killing? Why do they need bullets that enter the body and then explode. We can never prevent killings in schools from happening again, but we should try to limit them or slow them down. We should ban guns and ammo with the sole purpose of mass killing in a short period of time.
Mark Wyman January 31, 2013 at 05:20 AM
How about this guy? David B. Kopel Research Director, Independence Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law, Denver University, Sturm College of Law. http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html
Robert E January 31, 2013 at 07:56 AM
Why not the Iraqi's did it and did a pretty good job and the Afghanis are still doing it. They said we could never win the Revolutionary war a bunch of farmers against the greatest military in the world and look what happened. as far as the bulllets that enter the body and explode they dont explode, exploding ammo is already illegal. What happens when you ban guns and so nut just decides to drive his car threw a school playground full of kids at recess are you going to ban cars? The weapons you want to ban kill the fewest people according to FBI crime statistics, rifles account for only 2.7 percent of total murders in the US and that all rifles not just assualt rifles so what about the other 97%. Banning assualt weapons is just feel good legislation and will do nothing to fight gun crime.
Tom jones January 31, 2013 at 08:39 AM
@SH Dad You know what, I've been down this road before in other blogs,Your mind is made up and i'm guessing you have no concern for an inch of compromise.This can go on for days, till you get angry, and than i'll be called names and cussed at, and my manhood will be questioned for not accepting the gun culture, so I will not be doing that again- have a good day, sir.
Dee Dee January 31, 2013 at 11:37 AM
I listened to a large portion of the hearing last night and at moments my heart said - Yes Yes ban them.... But then logic prevails and I know (as do the politicians) that if we focus on laws and bans that this will happen again. Why? Criminals by definition don't obey laws (the killer violated several laws in this instance - laws did no good so why will more?) and the mentally insane by definition can't understand right from wrong. The only true way to address this is addressing the mental health issues. How many of us have walked past a parent with a child out of control, passed judgement and did not offer help? How many of us did not invite "the difficult child" to a birthday party? How many of us gossiped about the mom with the "tough or unusual" child? These parents have been abandoned by the health care system, the schools, and all of us - left to fend for themselves and then held accountable when something bad happens. Even now we are all passing judgement on a mom who is dead without knowing even the most basic facts - were the guns in a safe or locked - he did kill her, why? We are all accountable! More will be accomplished by addressing these issues and looking at ourselves and our behaviour then passing new laws that won't be obeyed or enforced anyway.
Jonah Damon January 31, 2013 at 12:52 PM
I keep hearing time and time again that "the Second Amendment was never intended for ownership of 21st Century rifles"... well then if that's the case, the First Amendment was never intended for 21st Century language... You can't pick and choose which Amendments pertain and which ones don't. They either all count or they're all void. Why is no one looking at the government and pointing the finger at them for any of these tragedies? Why would we, you ask?! How about all the laws currently in place that are not enforced? Everything done by almost every one of these criminals was illegal... yet no one has held them accountable... or filed civil suits against the local, state or federal governments for not taking action and enforcing current laws. Sandy Hook very well might have been prevented if state authorities knocked on Lanza's door on Dec. 12th asking why he was trying to obtain a firearm on Dec. 11th. Nope... much easier to point the finger at the guns... inanimate objects... tools... extensions of someones will... I agree that this groups was formed in a way to make it seem like there's "more groups" looking for the same thing... more pressure on the state to do something. The term "strength in numbers" only applies really if you have ONE group with many members... not many groups with a handful of members. It just shows that you have different ideals and goals than the other groups... and if not... why didn't you join those groups in the first place?
Joe January 31, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Whether they have a 'sole purpose' is up for debate. I disagree. I know my semi-automatic weapon isn't used as a mass killing machine. If the question here is need, we can extrapolate that into a number of areas that cause public harm. Why do we need cigarettes? We need alcohol, gambling, saturated fat, MSG, cigars, fast cars, cell phones? Any number of items could classify this way. You can't buy or carry ANY weapon in Chicago - the murder capitol of the country. Regular ordinary people are defenseless vs. the bad guys. There is a process to amend the constitution, if Congress wants, they should attempt it. Every time a loon goes off an some wild bent and does something so unthinkable, a faction of society turns to the government and begs for 'change'. I vote for this....Let's BAN the pharmaceutical Lobby in DC. Let's BAN the use of psychotropic drugs, let's BAN fathers from disappearing from their children's lives, let's BAN violent video games aimed at teenagers, let's BAN movies where the sole purpose is mass killing in a short period of time. As suspected, this thread has people on it that refuse to open their minds.
Fred January 31, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Tom jones - you realize you are the pot calling the kettle black, no? I guess you probably don't...
Joe January 31, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Sure Tom. My point is and was that an open mind is necessary here. We do not have an 'assault weapon' problem in this town, in this state or in this country. The quantity of deaths that take place as a result of their use is negligible compared to the handguns. The statistics, not the emotions, do not point towards a ban as being a practical deterrent to gun crime. Most murders are committed by handguns with a capacity of six bullets. This is a fact, not my idea, a fact. I choose to focus on cause and I believe it's our culture that's to blame. When our kids grow up in single parent households, when they play 1st person shooter games online vs. strangers, when their drugged at a young age for being a little different than the 'norm', when they see violence and anger and sarcasm withing every facet of entertainment - what should we expect? Ban the guns, the capacity, whatever. I'll comply but I'll expect no improvement until the CAUSE is addressed.
Tom jones January 31, 2013 at 05:01 PM
@ Fred Since you haven't been privy to the other blogs i posted on, a very small sampling of names I 've been called: pansy, communist, moron, and been cussed at , with words i choose to not repeat, as well as been accused of peeing my pants at the sight of a gun. All this anger directed at me just for exercising my 1st Amendment. i will post no more.
Debbie January 31, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Emotional, unfactual arguments , exploitation and a rush to enactment is never a good recipe for solutions that will work.
Debbie January 31, 2013 at 07:42 PM
The ar -15 ISNOT a military weapon nor an assault weapon. Some people are brainwashed here. It is used in .01 percent of all murders last year. THAT .01 percent. It is also used to target shoot , kill varmints and is recommended by the United States Department of Homeland Security to use for self defense. There is almost 4 million of them in this country. They are the most popular modern sporting rifle we have. Your post is innaccurate and deceptive.
Tony February 01, 2013 at 06:54 PM
SH Dad...weapons designed to quickly kill as many people as possible should be banned from civilians / Non-military personnel. We cannot just sit back and do nothing after this event. If someone wants to smoke, do drugs, eat fatty food...I am ok with that because it will only affects them and not the people around them.
Joe February 01, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Tony, More rhetoric and no facts. There are 10's of thousands of semi-automatic rifles sold in the US each year yet fewer than 400 murders. Where's your logic? Asking the Government to do something about insane people doing horrendous things is a ridiculous effort. There is not a semi-automatic rifle problem in the US, why restrict what is being sold rather than focusing on handguns? This is a simple question, there are about 20X the quantity of handgun murders, why aren't you going after them?
Kevin Fitzgerald February 01, 2013 at 08:09 PM
The GUN VIOLENCE LOTTERY In my opinion, there are 4 key components that make up a gun death. Shooter, Victim, Weapon, Motive. Consider also suicides (1 person) and a gunfight (multiple shooters, victims, etc.). To reduce gun violence, we have to find ways to affect one or more of these 4 core components. I’d like to suggest the following exercise which I have titled “The Gun Violence Lottery”. For this exercise, assume you are one of the nation’s legislators and that you are 100% committed to reducing gun violence as much as possible within the next 5 years (by 2018). Assume you could only use current legislative systems, cannot violate or change the Constitution and you knew that in 2018 your name would be included in a lottery with 34,000 (current annual gun deaths) other names to determine the gun violence victims for 2018. The number of gun deaths in 2017 will be the number of names pulled from the lottery. Naturally, the more you can reduce gun violence up to that point, the greater your chances of survival. So of those 4 components, which ones would you try to change and how? Remember, you don't know the shooters, the motives, the victims or which guns or types will be used to kill the victims. National health screenings? National education on personal safety? Increased enforcement? Curfews? Personality profiling? Gun bans? Limits? Controls? Would these be voluntary or required? Which are legal? Seriously, in 50 words or less, what would you do?
Ali Abdulah February 01, 2013 at 09:13 PM
It's acceptable to require drivers to be licensed, why is there a problem doing the same for gun owners?
Joe February 01, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Driving an automobile is not a right granted every American in the Constitution. It is a privilege governed individually by the states There is a process to require gun owners be registered, it's called amending the Constitution. BTW, there is still nobody here willing to recognize we are asking the law abiding ordinary citizens do this while we all KNOW the criminals will not. BTW #2, what we need is another layer of government keeping a database of bad information. I rec voice of wisdom educate himself on the current laws in CT. They are already among the strictest in the nation.
Joe February 01, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Kevin, this is easy if one is honest about the desired outcome. Especially if we are talking about all gun deaths of which 90% are by handgun not rifle. Here goes: Expand the MIB to include all MD's and share that with the FBI database that does background checks to ensure people taking psychotropic drugs are denied purchase. Insulate MDs from Liability. Eliminate gun shows unless arms are sold only by FFL. Renew my permit to carry pistols and revolvers. 49 words, piece of cake.
Mark Wyman February 01, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Dirving a car is a privledge not a right owning a gun is a Constitutional Right. You don't need a license to exercise your right to free speach to prove you can speak intelligently. there is a difference between a right and a privledge you can't take away a right.
Joe February 01, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Limiting the capacities of the metal objects guarantees nothing. Limiting the availability of the metal objects to be in the hands of the mentally unstable as a method of saving lives is a certainty.
Joe February 01, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Further to the effect of what The Shill writes: you don't even need to be intelligent OR CORRECT to exercise your right of free speech.
Kevin Fitzgerald February 01, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Having read Jonah's comment, I'd like to know more about the gun laws that were broken and how proper enforcement might have averted 12/14. Can someone shed some light on that?
Joe February 01, 2013 at 11:43 PM
For starters, it's a felony to use false identification to obtain a weapon of any kind. A few weeks prior, it's been reported he tried to get a long gun at Dick's Sporting Goods in Danbury with his brother's license. He left when he found out there was a 2 week waiting period in CT (news to a lot of people here who still don't know the laws in CT by the way). Dick's should have, provided this is true, alerted the police right there and state police would have been at his house within 48 hours. No question, based on what's been reported about his behavior, a psych evaluation would have taken place and possibly the mother's weapons may have been impounded. There were a number of other laws broken but I don't know what else would have averted the crime other than that. I might also look at the online ammo purchases, they could have been made illegally and/or sent up a flag that could/should have been checked out. Like I said earlier, an insane person bent on doing a massive horrendous crime is hard to predict and hard to stop. This particular law would have put him in cuffs right away.
monique thomas February 02, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Chicago: 446 school age children shot last year with strongest gun laws in country – the media is silent 62 school aged children have actually been killed by crazed nuts in Chicago so far this year (Dec. 19, 2012). So why isn’t this news worthy? Is it because it would embarrass those anti second amendment nuts who brag about Chicago ’s tough gun laws?
Kevin Fitzgerald February 03, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Thanks SH Dad. That's a good example. I'll search and try to fiund out if it's true. Can anyone else help us understand if any other gun laws were broken and if enforcement might have prevented 12/14? That argument has been used often and when I heard it mentioned at the hearings, I thought we should look at it more closely.
REVMAN April 02, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Confiscate--I think some one should put a sign on your lawn or front door THIS IS A GUN FREE HOME.


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