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Families of 12/14 Victims Present Letter To Legislators

Prior to the vote on gun legislation held Monday, April 1, at the State Capitol, the following letter was presented to members of the Connecticut legislative body at a press conference facilitated by Sandy Hook Promise, in the office of Senator John McKinney. Speaking briefly at the press conference was Nicole Hockley, the mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School first grade student Dylan Hockley, who perished 12/14. Bill Sherlach, husband of school psychologist Mary Sherlach who died at the school 12/14, read the letter. Parents of three other first grade students who died at SHS, Jackie and Mark Barden; Jenn Hensel; and Nelba Marquez Greene were present Monday morning, as well.

According to Sandy Hook Promise spokesman Rob Cox, the families also handed out the letter, along with pictures of their lost loved ones, to senators and house members as they headed into their caucuses.

 

April 1, 2013

 

The Honorable Joe Aresimowicz, House Majority Leader

The Honorable Larry Cafero, House Minority Leader

The Honorable Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader

The Honorable John McKinney, Senate Minority Leader

The Honorable Brendan Sharkey, Speaker of the House

The Honorable Don Williams, Senate President Pro Tempore

 

Legislative Office Building

Hartford, CT 06106

 

Dear Senators and State Representatives,

 

We, the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School together with the parents and spouses of educators killed that day in Newtown, are writing today regarding gun legislation currently under consideration by Connecticut’s legislature. We are grateful for your leadership on this issue and for the efforts of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety to craft a comprehensive package of legislation to keep our communities and children safer from violence. We feel strongly, however, that the current proposed action on large capacity ammunition magazines is inadequate and must be strengthened.

We feel a very personal connection to this issue. The Sandy Hook shooter carried 10 magazines that held 30 bullets each. We now know that he left many smaller magazines at home. He fired 154 shots in approximately 4 minutes, killing 20 children and 6 educators. Miraculously, in the time that it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape and are alive today.

We are left to wonder, what if the Sandy Hook shooter had been forced to reload not 6 times but 15 times. Would more children, would our children, be alive today?

The current proposal under consideration in Hartford would allow the sale of magazines with a capacity of 10 bullets or fewer. The proposal, however, grandfathers existing large capacity magazines leaving a gaping loophole on, what we believe, is the most dangerous feature of an assault weapon. Individuals will easily be able to purchase high capacity magazines in other states, bring them to Connecticut and claim to have owned them before the law took effect. Proving that the purchase or transfer took place post- enactment will be difficult, if not impossible.

Additionally, the “grandfathered” possession of large capacity magazines is not in the public interest and exposes our communities to an unacceptable risk of additional mass shootings. We must do more. If there is reason to stop the further sale of magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, a principle with which we wholeheartedly agree, it makes sense to take steps to prevent the potential damage that existing magazines could cause.

How can we not remove large capacity magazines from Connecticut if we know that it might save even one more child or teacher or parent?

On behalf of the loved ones who were violently taken from us, please reconsider your approach to large capacity magazines as part of the comprehensive package of gun legislation. Thank you for your consideration of our views.

 

The letter was signed by Jackie and Mark Barden, parents of Daniel; Nelba Márquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene, parents of Ana; Francine and David Wheeler, parents of Ben; Cheyanne and Ben Wyatt, parents of Allison; William Sherlach, husband of Mary; Maura Schwartz and Katy Sherlach, daughter of Mary; Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman, parents of Avielle; Neil Heslin, father of Jesse; Nicole and Ian Hockley, parents of Dylan; Donna Arnold, mother of Madeleine; Gilles Rousseau, Father of Lauren; Terri Rousseau, mother of Lauren; Joyce Rousseau, stepmother of Lauren; Matthew  and Andrew Rousseau, brothers of Lauren; Robbie and Alissa Parker, parents of Emilie

On Tuesday, April 2, Sandy Hook Promise released a statement addressing the outcome of the gun legislation the day before.

“Twenty-four Sandy Hook family members who lost loved ones on December 14 set aside their grief and summoned their courage on Monday to exercise one of their most basic rights as citizens. They called on the Legislature to strengthen the large capacity magazine provision to help prevent others from experiencing their fate; and the Legislature responded. Adding the requirement to register existing magazines, combined with the limit on sales of magazines over 10 bullets, makes this provision stronger than the original bipartisan legislative task force proposal and gives law enforcement more tools with which to ensure that large capacity magazines ultimately disappear from the state of Connecticut.

We thank the Governor, Senator John McKinney, and Senator Beth Bye for their support and we thank the legislature for passing the strongest gun responsibility legislation in the nation.”

Also included in the statement from Sandy Hook Promise were words from Ms Hockley.

“I am grateful that the Governor and Connecticut Legislature took a bipartisan path to a strong gun responsibility bill. I particularly appreciate that the Legislature listened to us and strengthened the provision on large capacity magazine size. As someone who is new to the process and here only out of necessity, I am pleased with what we accomplished  without rancor, with love.”

This story was updated April 2, to reflect the results of the gun legislation deals.

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