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.

Paul Alexander January 28, 2013 at 10:52 PM
List of Sheriffs Standing Up Against Obama’s Gun Control (Updated Jan 19th) 175 SWORN, OATH TAKING municipal law enforcement leaders and counting. Not a single Connecticut LEO in the bunch. Shocking. http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/list-of-sheriffs-standing-up-against-obamas-gun-control-updated/31948/ Who will hold Connecticut’s LEOs accountable to their Oaths???
Richard Hooker January 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM
What disrespect to heckle someone who is at the podium, especially in light of who he was. I hope those people were removed, and banned.
Truthteller January 29, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Typical propaganda from the gun mfrs. and their lobbyists. I've yet to hear one person speak of repealing the 2nd amendment. The type of weaponry used in massacres like Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech (shall I continue?) have no place in anyone's home.
Veritas vos liberabit January 29, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Do you really think that every sheriif should be deciding whick laws he thinks are valid? Suppose you think that the local yokel sheriffs who refuse to enforce Intergration laws were heroes also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Clark_(sheriff).
Thomas Crafts January 29, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Nobody heckled the guy that I could see. If it happened it was after he left the podium. The disrespectful behavior was somebody pulling the fire alarm forcing many who had gotten up at o dark thirty to get a seat in the hearing room to give up their seat and end up on the street at the back of the line. It was a setup.
NewtownPatchster January 29, 2013 at 02:26 AM
The NSSF wants to "be at the table to craft a solution"? Haven't they done enough get us into this mess? Public safety is not their area of competency.
Richard Hooker January 29, 2013 at 02:33 AM
WRONG. Dead wrong. You obviously did NOT watch the feed. Try again.
Randy Pineau January 29, 2013 at 03:14 AM
NewtownPatcher - so, now NSSF is RESPONSIBLE for Dec 14? Really? Is that a RATIONAL thought process? I think not.
Thomas Crafts January 29, 2013 at 11:11 AM
i was there, until the fire alarm, after which i was forced out.
Dart January 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM
I agree with Richard Mann - Mr Heslin was heckled while he was speaking, to the point where he looked around to see the people speaking out, and then commented that everyone was entitled to their own opinion. Shame on those people and such dignity on the part of Mr. Heslin to respond the way he did. Nobody pulled the fire alarm, they announced it was a mechanical error, if someone had pulled an alarm, it would have taken much longer to establish that. It is a shame that people can not get over the paranoia and try to work together.
Claudia Cooper January 29, 2013 at 01:18 PM
I can't agree with you more. Quite frankly, they have no valid argument against an assault weapons ban and so they keep falling back on desperate references to the their "rights" to carry a military weapon.I truly hope we get some meaningful legislation this time.
Paul Alexander January 29, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Jim Sullivan/Sully/McMurphy/Wise Guy/El Rushbo Your ability to connect two completely unrelated issues and somehow come to beleive in your mind that you have made a cogent point is truly breathtaking. "Scary" may be a better word. I think every LEO should abide by the oath they took. It is really not any more complicated than that. That is what the 175, and counting, LEO's have done. And that doesnt include all the elcteded municipal; and state leaders who have said they also will not enforce any unconsititional edicts..and that's what they are edicts, not laws. It will be interesting to see where Chief Kehoe ends up on this issue...as an oath taking, sworn, Law Enforcement professional or a uniform wearing pseudo-politician whose only oath is to political and job protecting expediency?
Thomas Crafts January 29, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Shame on the miscreant who pulled the fire alarm. I wonder why the fire trucks didm't come?
MisterSpuddy January 30, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Agree 100%, Richard. And Claudia, I agree with you too!
MisterSpuddy January 30, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Maybe not directly responsible but they created a culture in which something like this could happen.
SDK January 30, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Grieving parents and teachers -- the nation is with you. We want more regulation. Don't listen to anyone else. We are grieving with you.
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Yes, but the NSSF is familair with firearms which can not be said for the majority of our lawmakers, the gun-grabbers from CAGV, the well-meaning but misguided mom from March for Change and One Million Moms. Do any of those advocating magazine confiscation (that is the crux of CAGV's demands) know that you can make magazines using the current 3-D printing technology for very little money? http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/01/14/gunsmiths-3d-print-high-capacity-ammo-clips-to-thwart-proposed-gun-laws/ How is a law banning the possession (no grandfathering) of 10+ round magazines going to thwart the dedicated crazy person from getting what they want? What is to prevent that person from going out-of-state to get the stuff they need? Have the Dems/CAGV/March explained how they will get those magazine out of circulation? How about the costs? On Monday in Hartford, the president of CAGV told me he expects law-abiding owners to "do the right thing". Yeah, about that concept: http://reason.com/24-7/2013/01/24/poll-two-thirds-of-gun-owners-say-theyll/print http://reason.com/archives/2012/12/22/gun-restrictions-have-always-bred-defian/print http://reason.com/blog/2013/01/25/new-york-gun-owners-flip-the-bird-to-ass Calling for a ban/surrender/confiscation requires you to understand the people you are imposing that law upon - CAGV hasn't a clue. Turning tens of thousands of currently law-abiding gun owners into felons is not a solution.
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 05:53 PM
The NSSF is a trade organization that represents manufacturers. People buy guns for their own reasons (self-defense, hunting, competition, recreation), not because the NSSF sends invisible microwave signals into our puny neanderthal brains. Blaiming the NSSF, and by extension the gun makers, is like blaming the makers for rolling papers and bongs for pot smoking by juveniles, like blaming the alcohol makers' lobbying firm for drunk drivers, like ... Never mind, you are unpersuadable so why bother.
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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