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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

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.

The task force was 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. He 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.

Bernard January 29, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Yawn. Its not that the discussion is one-sided, its that the gun lobby's contributions are the same old blame-everyone/everything-else and more-guns=more safety arguments that only they believe. Mrs. Lanza believed that her guns made her and everyone else safe. How wrong she was. If you have nothing new to add, we've heard the NRA's self-serving agenda. Many of us have no interest in colluding with gun manufacturers to dump more guns in our laps. If law abiding gun owners want to help, 1. secure your weapons, 2. police yourselves and 3. stop buying wholesale the NRA propaganda meant to scare you into control.
Bernard January 29, 2013 at 05:25 PM
BTW,notice how when the discussion involves the dangers posed by surburban guns that are poorly secured and available to any vulnerable person, gun nuts try to make us afraid of the "criminals" with guns -involving images and scenerios more likely and probable in urban areas. Well, it COULD happen! Pure propaganda-anecdotal "evidence" parroted by every NRA apolegist. Just ask one and you will hear the same cultist explanations.
Jenn G January 29, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I am so done with hearing all the gun lovers complaining that the "criminals" don't follow the laws and they will still be armed. Why don't you all look up who commits these school shootings. Most of them were law abiding citizens or got their guns from law abiding citizens. They were NOT criminals. They were every day people who were allowed to purchase guns that they did NOT NEED. Why does anyone who is not in the military need an AK-47? When the 2nd Amendment was written, people were protecting their land from indians. It is ignorant to say it is someone's RIGHT to own an AK-47. Have a little respect for all those families that lost their babies to some LAW BIDING citizen. Remember, he was not a "Criminal" until he fired that first shot, the shot that killed his Mother, the law abiding citizens who though it was good idea to own an AK-47.
Ken January 29, 2013 at 07:05 PM
I am actually OK with people owning guns, all the guns they want, any type they want, BUT, they must handle and store them safely. Last year, nearly 150,000 guns were stolen, and ~80% of them never recovered (source=FBI crime statistics available to the public on their website). And that's actually represents a significant decrease in the number of stolen guns over the last decade, its been as high as 250,000, in a single year! You want to know where criminals are getting their guns? They are stealing them from legal gun owners who fail to properly secure them. On top of that, in 2010 for example, over 600 people were killed and 14,000 injured in firearm accidents. (source-CDC injury data available to the public on their website). Anyone know how much this is costing us? There is a strong argument to be made, on these points alone, that guns should be outlawed. Its a classic "bad apple spoils the bunch". And I haven't even talked about the unsupported belief that owning a gun makes you safer!
Dave January 29, 2013 at 08:47 PM
It is my understanding that this is the consensus of the citizens of our state. Most people in Hartford yesterday confirm this As I have spoken with some one who attended the hearings. I have also spoken with our Representatives in the legislature and they are on the same page. We need to make it clear that more laws and bans do not work and the laws that were passed in New York are way out of bounds as they are only following an agenda from the progressives in our government. We the people.... is the opening to one of the greatest documents ever written ...

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