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 showdown. 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.

And it was tense -- and packed. 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.

Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 06:00 PM
SDK - I am a parent and gun owner and I grieve with these families. I was in the Capitol on Monday and my eyes welled listening to the testimony of the families, particularly Mr. Heslin and Mrs. Pozner. DO NOT DARE TO SUGGEST THAT THERE IS SOME DISTANCE BETWEEN GUN OWNERS AND THESE POOR FAMILIES. I want my kids protected as strongly as anyone else, it is just that my experience with guns and a bit of common sense inform me that the solutions being offered will protect no one and might allow us to pick low-hanging fruit rather than address the more intractable issues of how our modern suburban culture is creating monsters out of some of our boys. You want to tackle that one SDK? Do you have teenage boys? Do they play CoD or other first person shooter games? Do they sneek into the SAW movies or the swill produced by Tarrantino? Do they listen to modern urban music where women are objectified and the culture is "I will put a cap in your ass"? Tell me SDK, how do we address these issues? If you want to educate yourself on the futility of AWBs and mag limits, read this and tell me how compliance with California's already strict laws preventing this killing? His weapon and mags were fully compliant yet seven died and it could have been worse if he had used all 40 rounds available to him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oikos_University_shooting Open your mind and see that regulation is NOT the answer.
Ryan January 30, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Its funny how all the gun control advocates like to site the "gun-show loop hole, which really doesn't exist because almost all the dealers at shows have FFL's and therefore must complete the background check. They also say that we have no need for "assault weapons" this is true because assault weapons have been banned in this country since the 30's. The firearms that we have today are not assault rifles, they are modern sporting rifles, used for protection, sport and hunting. Furthermore there is no evidence that shows less guns=less crime. If anything the evidence is the other way more guns=less crime. There was talk of the weapons used in these mass shootings and mention of Virginia tech, the funny thing is that the only weapons used there were pistols with 10 round magazines. Gun control is not about guns, its about control. Just look to the UK, Australia both with extreme gun control but high violent crime. Then look at Switzerland which requires its men to keep military weapons and encourages women to do so, but they have a lower murder rate than the UK and Australia. Therefore there is absolutely ZERO evidence that less guns reduces crime. People in this country need to stand up to the government and demand that they stay away from our rights! Gun control does not work.
Thomas Crafts January 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Oh Dickie? It turns out the heckling part was faked , That's why nobody in the room saw it BECAUSE IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. But then the ends justify the means for liberals, right?
Richard Hooker January 30, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Anyone who says the heckle was faked, needs to be banned from this conversation and website immediately. That is insulting and extremely offensive. I watched the feed in its entirety. These out of towners need to be removed from this conversation. There is absolutely no room for this type of behavior
tim January 31, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Ryan and tpaine have hit the nail on the head.


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