In a hushed auditorium, harshly lit for television, the families and neighbors of Sandy Hook’s lost children told visiting legislators Monday night to take a stand against gun violence, not always prescribing how.
“You are our elected officials,” said Nicole Hockley, who last held the hand of her 6-year-old son, Dylan, as he lay in a small casket. “It is your duty to create and enforce the laws that protect and help us, using common sense, morals and a sense of humanity to guide you…”
By the hundreds, her neighbors rose and embraced her with applause, as did the legislators. So went the routine all night, where residents aching for gun control or better mental health screening had their say, then left to applause.
Ardent opponents of gun control spoke later, most offering condolences before politely protesting that no new law would have stopped their children’s killer, Adam Lanza. They also were neighbors, and they, too, left to applause.
The bipartisan legislative task force created in response to the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 filled the wide stage of Newtown High School…
The hearing was like none at the State Capitol in Hartford. It couldn’t be, not in a town where a firehouse is newly decorated with 26 copper stars, one for each victim. It is a place where most anything can remind residents of what happened on Dec. 14.
David Wheeler, whose six-year-old son, Benjamin, was killed, said the legislators must find a way for authorties to better match information on the emotionally disturbed against a registry of homes with guns. No authority apparently ever challenged Nancy Lanza for keeping an AR-15 and other firearms in a home with a son who had emotional problems.
“It doesn’t matter to whom these weapons were registered. It doesn’t matter if they were purchased legally,” Wheeler said. “What matters is that it was far too easy for another mentally unbalanced, suicidal person who had a violent obsessions to have easy access to unreasonably powerful weapons.”
To gun owners who ask that their Second Amendment rights not be infringed by asking them to give up certain rifles and high-capacity magazines, Wheeler asked about aother right articulated by the Founding Fathers, the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life — his life, to the right to live of all those children and those teachers,” Wheeler said. “Let’s honor the Founding Fathers and get our priorities straight.”
RTFA and reflect while, time and again, the parents, neighbors and family of the massacre victims speak out against a culture that places a higher priority on gun ownership – than a child’s right to grow and learn and enjoy life.