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Parent of 6-year-old Newtown victim heckled during testimony

Firearms Training Unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson of the Connecticut State Police holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook School shooting, for a demonstration during a hearing of a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws Monday at the legislative hearing.

Firearms Training Unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson of the Connecticut State Police holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook School shooting, for a demonstration during a hearing of a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws Monday at the legislative hearing.

Parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws and tougher penalties for violators Monday at a hearing that revealed the divide in the gun-control debate, with advocates for gun rights shouting at the father of one 6-year-old victim.

Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed in last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, asked people in the room to put themselves in his position as he questioned the need for any civilian to own semiautomatic, military-style weapons.

"It's not a good feeling. Not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It's a real sad thing," said Heslin, who held up a large framed photograph of himself and his son.

A handful of people at the packed legislative hearing then shouted about their Second Amendment rights when Heslin asked if anyone could provide a reason for a civilian to own an assault-style weapon.

"We're all entitled to our own opinions and I respect their opinions and their thoughts," Heslin said. "But I wish they'd respect mine and give it a little bit of thought."

The hearing by a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws offered the first public testimony by family members of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman slaughtered 20 first-grade children and six women. Adam Lanza had killed his mother in their home across town and then drove to the school to carry out the shooting before committing suicide. The testimony was expected to continue late into the night.

Members of the Connecticut State Police firearms training unit brought weapons to the hearing to provide state lawmakers with a short tutorial on what's legal and illegal under the state's current assault weapons ban, passed in 1993. The group included an AR-15, the same type of rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Many gun rights advocates, wearing yellow stickers that read: "Another Responsible Gun Owner," were among the estimated 2,000 people at the hearing. Metal detectors were installed at the entrance to the Legislative Office Building, and some people waited as long as two hours to get into the building in Hartford.

Many spoke about the need to protect their rights and their families' safety.

"The Second Amendment does not protect our right to hunt deer," said Andrew Hesse of Middletown. "It protects our right to self-preservation and preservation of our family. The right to bear arms."

Elizabeth Drysdale, a single mother from Waterbury, spoke of three recent incidents that caused her to fear for her safety. She said she should be able to choose the size of magazine and type of firearm to defend herself.

"Don't my children and I deserve your support and consideration to be safe," she asked lawmakers.

Judy Aron of West Hartford said bills such as those requiring gun owners to have liability insurance and ammunition taxes only harm lawful gun owners.

"Every gun owner did not pull the trigger that was pulled by Adam Lanza, she said.

The state's gun manufacturers, meanwhile, urged the subcommittee to not support legislation that could put the state's historic gun manufacturing industry at risk.

Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at Sandy Hook, got a standing ovation when he said there are plenty of gun laws but they're not properly enforced. He urged lawmakers to address the culture of violence.

"It's a simple concept. We need civility across our nation," he said. "What we're seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility."

Two Southbury natives who survived a mass shooting last year at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., urged lawmakers to address online, private guns sales that don't require background checks. Stephen Barton and Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent also want to require background checks for purchases of so-called long guns and not just handguns.

State Rep. Arthur O'Neill, R-Southbury, who has known Rodriguez-Torrent since he was a child, predicted state lawmakers will reach a compromise on guns.

He said lawmakers' minds have changed since the Dec. 14 school massacre.

"Dec. 13 was one way of looking at the world, and Dec. 15 is a different way of looking at the world," he said.

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 2 months ago

Was Adam Lanza legally in posession of the firearm? No, so I don't really care how many laws you put in place and don't enforce, how many Buy Back Programs you institute, What you outlaw, there will always be a way to obtain that which an individual wants. Son of Sam not only had an illegal pistol in New York City, he had a fully Automatic Thompson Sub Machinegun (according to reports at the time) Both definately outlawed in New York City, and one would have required a Federal Tax Stamp, and even with that couldn't have been legally owned in New York City. How is the war on Drugs doing? Seen any drop in profits from that one. Then there was prohibition, that worked really well also, didn't it?

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 2 months ago

Well since this law against murder isn't working, let's just remove it from the books. The law against minors drinking ain't working either, let's throw it out too. Oh what the heck, let's just throw all the laws out so it can be true survival of the fittest.

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DRTexas 1 year, 2 months ago

Nobody has called for removing the existing laws. Enforcing them would be nice. Waltspecht's point was that Adam Lanza did not legally obtain the weapon he used to go on a murderous rampage. Creating new laws that will only affect lawful citizens will not help.

Please take your meds, and get on a list to keep yourself from lawfully obtaining a gun. We worry about you.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 2 months ago

Just pointing out the flaw in the "criminals will always find a way" argument.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes, I agree. Most gun buys are done legally and they never ever get used in a incident like this. This was a gun stolen by a son. The mother should have kept the gun locked and no one knowing the combination. Least of all him. She knew he was violent. No amount of political BS will stop any crime like this one.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Despite the tragedy of the experience of the gentleman who lost a son......the headline is BS since the gentleman asked for feedback and he got it. Heckled? NO! Question answered? YES!

This just points out the LIBERAL BIAS OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER regarding his/her so-called "objective reporting" of the events of the hearing.

BS!! This biased BS doesn't belong in this newspaper or any other!

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