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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 made pleas for both social change and gun laws.

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 last month's massacre in Newtown that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

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.

A 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.

Rose B January 29, 2013 at 02:57 PM
"Legislators in Hartford are in the process of destroying your Second Amendment rights by exploiting recent tragedies," said the (representatives of CT gun manufacturers) release. Frankly, it seems the onus of "exploitation" of recent tragedies sits squarely on the shoulders of the gun manufacturers, gun lobby and gun enthusiasts who are using this as a means to arm more people, sell MORE guns. What is being asked here is to ensure those who get access to these guns have a thorough check into their background and that the guns they have access to aren't military style, armor-piercing assault rifles that shoot hundreds of bullets in a blink of an eye. From what I can tell, no one is advocating for guns to be wrenched from some gun lover's arsenal (although, I personally would advocate for that to be part of the measure.) This is just another case of the wrong end of the argument spreading fear to nuts - and this case nuts and their guns - so that the entire issue gets muddied and toxic.
CuriousOrange January 29, 2013 at 03:13 PM
The Second Amendment right to bear arms was clearly justified by an 18th-century notion: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." All the modern arguments -- hunting, collecting, competitions, and hobby-shooting -- seem as irrelevant as they carelessly provide guns for bad guys, domestic violence, and suicide.
mary January 29, 2013 at 05:05 PM
A Brief History of Gun Control Kentucky Long Rifle In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————— Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million ‘educated’ people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. —————————– Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.
cnitoiu January 29, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Romania bans all kinds of guns and had 2 deaths because of guns in the past 5 years. US has no restrictions on guns and how many hundreds died in the last 5 years?
Matt January 29, 2013 at 06:51 PM
So Mary, you honestly think that our country, the most "free" country in the world has the potential to elect one person who would eventually gain enough control of the populace and the military to be able to take complete control like the dictatorial scumbag leaders in the countries you list in your cut and pasted propaganda piece above? Nobody has called for the abolishment of the second amendment. Rather there is a call for regulating the types of weapons that are allowed to be distributed to the average citizen, many who have no training or desire to be trained in using the weapons, many who are mentally unstable, many who have ill intent when purchasing such weapons. We control other weapons and prevent them from being sold openly like grenades and rocket launchers, chemical weapons, certain explosives to name a few and for good reason. The constitution calls for a well regulated militia, not for a free for all. I doubt very much that our founding fathers even imagined the types of weapons that we now have in this world or dreamed that some idiot somewhere would spend his or her time designing weapons with a sole purpose of killing as many people as fast as possible in the most cowardly way. If you have that little faith in our country and our Constitution then perhaps you should move to a country where anyone and everyone walks around all day with weapons slung over their shoulders, ready to shoot and kill in the moment, like Afghanistan or Iraq for example!
Mike January 29, 2013 at 07:33 PM
All guns should be banned, confiscated, and destroyed. The constitution, with the second amendment should be abolished. It was written by a bunch of old dead guys who knew nothing of the modern world. Then when nobody has guns, the police won't need them, so the police should be disarmed. This nation should set the example for all other nations by disbanding the military. We can then spend the money from the military on social programs. When we don't have a military, the other nations of the world will disband theirs. We can all live in peace and harmony, knowing that the government will take care of all our needs.
Bob Cerani January 29, 2013 at 11:12 PM
You people are all nuts. You want to live in a free society and want to make it a police state. I can't believe all of you do not realize that if you ban all guns, like most of you want to do, You will have a black market of guns beyond imagination,making it much worst than it is now. How many of you can remember what happened in the 1920's during prohibition. Booze was selling everywhere,underground. And this nut Mike wants to abolish the constitution. This is what happens when you give Democrats a little power,it goes to their head. Kumbia, Mike we can all dance around the campfire and live in peace and harmony.What world are you living in? I was in a war I did not want to be in but I went and I was lucky enough to make it home, I learned how to used many weapons,I now use mine at the firing range and for protection. Oh and I will not be giving up my guns anytime soon.
mary January 30, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Attention Matt: Who the hell are you to tell me to leave the country? I'm entitled to my opinion as are you! Maybe if you want your right to bear arms to be infringed maybe you would be comfortable in another country notably the USSR or China, Korea, etc. Take your pick. The Constitution says 'our right to bear arms' is an absolute right. What's so difficult to understand about that?
mary January 30, 2013 at 04:05 AM
“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.” - Mao Tze Tung, Nov 6, 1938 How ironic that those who are calling for gun control are those who want the guns so they can have the control.
CuriousOrange January 30, 2013 at 04:15 PM
@mary "maybe you would be comfortable in another country notably the USSR ..." Really?!
Rose B January 30, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Mary, you sound more like this guy: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/20757122/man-killed-after-pulling-into-wrong-driveway-friends-say ....than someone who lives and enjoys life in a country where our "freedoms" are protected by the military you seem to think will be used against you. Who do you think will "round you up" anyway, if not the military under control of a dictator? By the way, democracy in America ensures that the President is duly elected by the public -- that is, unless we keep Citizens United in place and the Koch Bros., Shel Adelson and the oil industry in place and dictating who wins. We dodged a bullet this last election once the rightwing-leaning Supreme Court allowed for unlimited dollars to fund (buy) elections. The people's vote mattered over the big donors like NRA, Rove's Crossroads and Koch trying to buy the WH, so democracy won. A dictatorship - what you fear most - could be for sale around the corner unless you get your priorities and facts straight.
Rose B January 30, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Same with Australia.
Rose B January 30, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Truth is, the lawmakers deciding what to do with this issue aren't seeking a ban of all guns; just the ones that make NO SENSE for civilians to own. There is absolutely no rational use for an automatic, military-style assault weapon in civilian's hands. There's absolutely NO rational need for civilians to own high-capacity magazines. Ban both and leave the gun nuts to their less deadly toys and Viagra, and hunters to their hunting rifles and we can all sleep easier.
Bob Cerani January 30, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Rose B,you are just as bad as the other nuts out there. The legal gun owners are not the problem YOU and all your Democrat friends are the problem. Assault weapons will be out there if they ban them or not. You seem to be very nieve about what is going on ,or you are listening to too much PMSNBC. Get a grip babe.
Mike January 30, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Anyone who wants guns and does not support President Obama is stupid. We should trust the givernment. The government knows what is best for us. Anyone who does not agree should go to jail.
EddieGin January 30, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Mike, How in the *hail did you get a hold of the computer again at Norwich State Mental Hospital. The staff must be sleeping again. Also, I sorry that your Fathers let you eat paint chips as a child.
CuriousOrange January 30, 2013 at 11:14 PM
@Mike. Is this what you really believe?
Semi Happy Resident January 31, 2013 at 12:04 AM
I guess I should go to jail because I deffinantly don't believe the government always knows what is best for us. Just for the record, I don't own a gun but I do believe people have the right to choose to have one. I don't see where they need guns or bullets that can rip through a tank. Anyone that currently has a gun that is not legal isn't going to turn it in either and the black market to buy one will increase if people feel they want one.
mary January 31, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Mike: You talk like a jerk! The only two things you should have absolute trust in is God and Sam Colt!
mary January 31, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Rose B: Let me just say 'free men own guns', 'slaves don't.' If we ever lost the 2nd amendment we'd lose the first as well which is the 'right to free speech.' Thus the first amendment is only upheld by the 2nd amendment.
Bob Cerani January 31, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Mike, What the Heck is wrong with you man. Are you for real? This president is a train wreck. And anyone who follows this guy is not dealing with a full deck and that would include you. This president is taking us down the wrong path and you are to nieve to understand what is going on. Just wait till he finishes his next 4 years. You will not recognize this country,if you really care at all. With the comments you have made, I'd have to say, you are probably about 16 years old. I know some kids your age that will put you to shame.
Bob Cerani January 31, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Bravo Mary, Rose B is to thick .She will never get it.
Walt January 31, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Quoting from your god, rush
Mike January 31, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Anyone who wants to have guns is insane, and should be sent to a re education camp. This includes all republicans, conservatives, and anyone who still thinks this constitution thingy is important. I can't wait to see what President Obama does in his third and fourth terms. He will make this nation a worker's paradise. No more greedy corporations. From each according to his ability, and to each according to his needs.
Bob Cerani February 01, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Walt, What is your excuse, at least I have one.
CuriousOrange February 01, 2013 at 06:08 PM
No guns? No problems.

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