Gun Control, School Safety, Mental Illness Focus of New State Panel

In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Connecticut is convening a panel of experts to explore all necessary facets of trying to prevent future tragedies.

HARTFORD -- A panel of experts appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been tasked with making recommendations about how to improve public safety in Connecticut, particularly in schools.

The committee, which will be led by second-term Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, will also look at current policies and see if changes are warranted in the areas of mental health treatment and gun violence prevention.

The announcement was Malloy's first discussion about how the state would react to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It was held outside his office at the State Capitol in Hartford Thursday, just shy of three weeks since the massacre on Dec. 14 when 20 children and six adults were shot and killed by a lone gunman who ultimately took his own life.

“Shortly after the initial horror and the immediate grief over what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School...there was one question on the lips of many of our residents: How do we make sure this never happens again?," Malloy said.

"It’s the right question," he continued, "even as we recognize that despite our best efforts, bad things will happen. We don’t yet know the underlying cause behind this tragedy, and we probably never will (he said the shooter did not leave a note). But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. I want the commission to have the ability to study every detail, so they can help craft meaningful legislative and policy changes.”

The commission, he said, will look for ways to "make sure our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system can reach those that need its help, and that our law enforcement has the tools it needs to protect public safety, particularly in our schools.”

He also discussed the need to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

The commission, which must present an initial report to Malloy by March 15 — in time for consideration during the regular session of the General Assembly — will consist of experts in various areas, including education, mental health, law enforcement and emergency response.

Jackson is the only person who had been announced as a committee member as of Thursday. All told, there will be 15 people on the committee; Malloy has reached out to several people and is awaiting their response.

Malloy said he hopes Connecticut can be a model for the rest of the nation in terms of how to address gun control issues. Still, he said, the state cannot work alone.

"It's still far too easy to buy guns in some states and transport them to our state," he said. "We need Washington to get its act together so that they can put together a reasonable national gun policy that protects the citizens of our state and our nation. I am thankful, therefore, that President Obama has gotten this conversation started, and I'm committed to do all I can to allow this conversation to proceed." 

Malloy, a longtime advocate for stricter gun control laws, spent much of his time during Thursday's news conference speaking about that very issue. The gun control debate will clearly be one of the commission's main focal points.

The governor said that if the national Brady Act had not been allowed to expire by the U.S. Congress, then 30-round clips would still be illegal, and, perhaps, Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza may not have had access to them.

"Look, these aren't used to hunt deer," he said of assault weapons. "You don't need 30-round clips to go hunting. You don't need 30-round clips to honor the constitution of the United States. And I think it's time we have a realistic discussion about the weapons that are being used time and time again in these mass causality situations. I mean it would be stupid not to have that conversation."

Asked if there should be guards in every school, and, if so, whether they should be armed, Malloy said: "I hope not."

"...But there is a reason we have the commission and that is to look at these issues, and ultimately that will be a local decision, but we will take a balanced approach and balanced look at that for final determination," he said. "But with all the needs, you would hope that is not one of the needs. But if it is, we will take a look at it."

Jackson said he agrees with much of the governor's stance on gun control, but that he expects to hear all sides of the issue.

"I think one of the reasons the governor chose me is I have the ability to separate myself emotionally" and look at the facts of the issue, Jackson said.

Jackson became somewhat emotional when a reporter asked if he had time to dedicate to the panel while simultaneously running a large city. Jackson admitted he is busy, but said the panel charge is a great one. 

"My son is in first grade, and this affects us all," he said. "This is the most important thing I can be doing right now."

brutus January 25, 2013 at 04:33 AM
Terrie, the biggest problem with mr mike's response is the common mislabeling of people like ron paul and pat buchanan. when someone labels them as far right, then you know their mind has been clouded with the liberal bias found in the media and academia. mr mike, please don't take any offense....as you said, I am entitled to my perspectives and you are certainly entitled t yours. and I don't fault you for not agreeing with the points made in the video Terrie linked to. but please consider that pat buchanan is what would be termed a "paleoconservative" which is very different from a far right republican in that he was adamantly against the iraq war. paleocons are non-interventionists and base their political beliefs on traditional american ideals and the "old right" not the "far right." and ron paul is even less far right as he is far far far to the LEFT of even obama on some issues. he is a true libertarian, not bound by the false left/right paradigm. again, you can vehemently disagree with ron paul, pat buchanan, and whoever else, but be careful not to fall into the trap of labeling people as far-this or far-that just because that's what you've been told. those labels are thrown at people to minimize them and make them seem extreme because their opponents can't otherwise challenge them.
Terrie Hildreth January 26, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Thank you! Brutus, very well said, and you are correct Mr. Mike is entitled to his opinion. It does amaze me how he totally contradicts him self through out all of his comments though which indicates to me he does not research very little of what his Government does. He just listens to what they tell him., hence, the meaning of "allegiance to the state". Dr. Paul is an extremely smart man!, well educated!, informative of the REAL history of our country as well as foreign...He is an amazingly strict Constitutionalists and he has followed it faithfully through out his entire Congressional career.,Although, when the main stream media got done with their character assassination on him, they then ignored him. He is, as well, a non interventionist which our founding fathers warned us of not getting involved in the entanglement of other nations unless it proven to a threat to our national security and was approved by Congress first but most don't realize we "invaded Iraq and other nations with out Congressional approval. That 's why I respect Dr. Paul so very much for being a strict Constitutionalists and rightfully so, since it means he was doing his job!!! after all, this is a America and that's what our country was founded on!!. I think that's why it blows my mind when people talk as though it is an archaic document, quite the contrary, it was written to keep the line in place from congress and Government to cross that tyrannical line. The Constitution is the Law of the land.
Mr Mike January 27, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Terrie, First of all, please give specific references to where I "contradict myself", do not just say it. Second,who specifically are the "they" and what specifically am I being told; and what is the definition/meaning of "allegiance to the state" and what is it's source? You seem to consider yourself a scholar on the Constitution, what are your credentials? If you are referring to the original Constitution, then your "right to bear arms" does not exist , slavery is ok and you cannot vote,among other things! Those came as Amendments to the Constution. If you are including the Amendments and saying once ratified they cannot be changed,because they are now part of the Constitution, then I guess many are breaking the Law by drinking booze(18th), except there was a change(19th) repeal! As to Ron Paul, you admire him and like everything he espouses, ok that's your right. I do not have to, that's my right! As to Government acts abiding by the Constitution, I think I'll let the Supreme Court rule on that. Oh, that's in the Constitution too.
Mr Mike January 27, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Terrie, You are zealot and will never be able to rationally discuss any point of view that does not agree with yours. I could point out instances to contradict your accusations against Congress, but why bother? You will just come back with another senseless rant!
Mr Mike January 27, 2013 at 07:47 PM
brutus, I had never heard of the term "paleoconservative", but in checking Wiki about the people who's names were attached to the vidio I was pointed to, I did come across the term. I was reacting to the slant of the vidio and lumped all the "sponsors" together, my mistake. I have given up on trying to hold a rational(vs emotional or my way only) discussion with Terrie. I am sorry you ended up in the middle of it. I have no problem carrying on a discussion of the points of view on gun control with you.


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