Connecticut opens gun control hearings

Jan. 28, 2013 at 8:37 PM
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HARTFORD, Conn., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Two fathers of children slain in Newtown, Conn., were among the first to speak as state hearings on gun control began, and they espoused different views.

Mark Mattioli stressed the need for stronger enforcement of existing laws and personal responsibility. Neil Heslin advocated for a ban on assault-style weapons and wider-ranging controls.

"The problem is a lack of civility," said Mattioli, whose son James was among the 26 people gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14. "We do not need complex laws. I am a big proponent of accountability and enforcement.

"I don't think the gun laws are protecting the people. What have those gun laws done to make Chicago a safer city? I want responsible legislation. It needs to be simple and it needs to be enforced.

"We need much stricter enforcement. 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."

Heslin, holding a photo of his son Jesse Lewis, told the task force more restrictions and improved gun safety were required. He said "a place to start would be banning" assault-style weapons.

"I still can't see why any civilian, why anyone in this room, needs weapons of that sort," Heslin said. "I was raised in a household with guns and weapons. I was educated on the safety of guns. I think a lot of changes need to be made."

As the state Legislature's Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety prepared to convene, police set up metal barricades at the doors of the legislative office building and advocates held news conferences in the crowded building, the Hartford Courant reported.

At one news conference, the Connecticut Education Association released its survey of 400 teachers, noting 9-of-10 support a ban on the sale and possession of "military-style semiautomatic assault weapons."

At another, Dennis Veilleux, president and chief executive officer of gun manufacturer Colt Industries of West Hartford, said, "We are available and would be committed to review all responsible proposals with an open mind."

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