Yesterday, over two thousand people attended a Connecticut hearing about gun laws, just six weeks after the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The December 14, 2012 massacre left 20 children and six educators dead. One father of a six-year-old boy spoke at the hearing to question the need for "assault-style weapons or military weapons or high capacity clips," only for critics to yell, "The Second Amendment!" and "The Second Amendment shall not be infringed!"
Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was slain by Adam Lanza, an apparently troubled 20-year-old who used an AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, told lawmakers at the State Capitol:
"I'm here today to just hopefully get the word out that changes have to be made. I'll tell you a little bit about Jesse. He was a boy that loved life, lived it to the fullest. His mother and I are both separated, he spent an equal amount of time with both of us...
"He was my son, he was my buddy, he was my best friend. I never thought I'd be here speaking like this, asking for changes on my son's behalf. I never thought I'd be laying him to rest. The happiest day of my life was the day he was born, he's my only son, my only family. And the worst day of my life was the day when this happened and I buried him...
"I ask if there's anybody in this room that can give me one reason … why anybody … needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high capacity clips."
That's when the heckling began. Heslin said, "We're all entitled to our own opinion. I respect their opinions and their thoughts but I wish they'd respect mine and give it a little bit of thought and realize that it could have been their child that was in that school that day."
Veronique Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed, testified, "Noah was our 6-year-old force of nature... He lies forever motionless in the earth. He will never get to attend middle school or high school, kiss a girl, attend college, pick a career path, fall in love, marry, have children or travel the world... This is not about the right to bear arms. It is about the right to bear weapons with the capacity of mass destruction. … The time is now. Let the state of Connecticut become an agent for change... Assault weapons should be comprehensively banned. … The equation is terrifyingly simple: Faster weapons equal more fatalities."
However, Mark Mattioli, father of 6-year-old victim James, said, "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... The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility."
The Hartford Courant blogged the hearing—here's a sampling of some of the pro-gun testimony:
Linda F. Czaplinski, a 52-year-old Republican from Oxford, asked, “How many guns do I need? Whatever I want. … It is my right to have easy access in my time of peril.” Victor Benson, a 54-year-old Republican from New Milford, blamed New York City Mayor Bloomberg, famed hedge fund investor George Soros and “the liberal media” to “take away the nasty looking guns” from Americans in an act of disarmament. He said “the ultimate goal is to take all of our guns” from law-abiding citizens.
Christopher Yen of Norwalk, a Harvard graduate who is now employed by a hedge fund in Connecticut, said the answers on gun control should come from common sense. He is opposed to any extension of the assault-weapons ban that had been enacted and has since expired. “These ideas have been tried before at the federal level from 1994 to 2004,” Yen said. “Columbine, Connecticut lottery. … These laws don’t work. They failed to save a single life. … Virginia Tech … these laws would have done nothing. … Ten-round magazine? Seven-round limit? Doesn’t make a difference. … Your legislative efforts are better spent elsewhere.”
Lloyd Van Lanen of Voluntown, who leads an archery-based ministry at his church as a life skill, said that police could take as long as 31 minutes to get to his house. “Nothing personal, but I’d rather defend myself,” he said, adding that he was opposed to any bill that limits his right to choose whichever weapons are necessary to defend his family.
Westport resident Lawrence Tirreno, who turns 65 next week, asked lawmakers if they had a fire extinguisher at home and then asked whether the government should be able to decide the size of the extinguisher. “Have any of you, considering 10-round magazines, been in a gun fight?” Tirreno asked. “I have.”
Yes, fire extinguishers and ammunition—TOTALLY THE SAME THING.
Today, the NY Times interviewed the police officers who responded to the shooting: "Most of the bodies were found in the classroom next door, where, Detective Frank recalled, “the teacher had them huddled up like a mother hen — simple as that, in a corner.'... Officer Penna, who was the first officer to enter the second room, found a girl standing alone amid the bodies. She appeared to be in shock, and was covered in blood, but had not been injured."