Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey says the law passed early Thursday strikes a very difficult balance between the second amendment right to bear arms and the protection of citizens that as a state must be provided.
She said it's unfortunate that honest, law abiding gun owners will have to jump through so many hoops but in response to the victims and families who were personally affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy, but that she had no option but to vote yes. Hovey continued by saying the rhetoric of the two opposing positions has pitted neighbor against neighbor, but hopefully, now the community will be able to begin to heal.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky said in prepared remarks:
"Today, I dedicate my vote to the memory of those whose lives were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. For the families I represent, I vote yes to a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that, while not perfect, provides a foundation of common sense firearms legislation, while preserving the rights of responsible citizens under the Second Amendment. I am also encouraged to see the bill before us as a beginning in the process of addressing critical mental health issues and establishing historic school safety guidelines, giving municipalities the ultimate choice - without mandates."
"Twenty-six families and the entire Newtown community suffered unimaginable losses on December 14, 2012. I hope the victims' families, our first responders and everyone affected can sleep a little better and feel safer knowing that, through an arduous and deliberate process, we in the legislature and the State of Connecticut listened carefully to all perspectives and took action. I would like to thank every resident who spoke at our public hearings, wrote, called, e-mailed, texted or engaged me on the street, at the grocery store and even at Newtown's Edmond Town Hall movie theater."
Danbury Representative Jan Giegler says the bill does not focus on the true issue in the tragedy at Sandy Hook. In an emailed statement, she said mental health which was at the root of the rampage at Sandy Hook and that the tragedy in Newtown was caused by a person who should never have had access to a gun in the first place. “This bill package, which includes only a sliver of information about mental health and school safety, only attacks responsible gun owners and their 2nd Amendment rights. Every two years as elected officials, we stand and raise our right hands and swear to uphold the State and Federal Constitutions which I feel I would not be doing by voting for this bill.”
Giegler added: “As a parent I deeply care about the safety of our children in their learning environment but this bill has missed the mark, creating more regulation and little to make individuals safer, consequently I cannot support it.”
Redding Representative John Shaban said in an emailed statement:
"As a father, gun owner and resident of northern Fairfield County, these issues and the tragedy that prompted this discussion weigh on me as they do all citizens of Connecticut. Notably, the bill is not simply a “gun bill,” it addresses school security, mental health reforms and new gun control measures as one package. From the beginning of these discussions, my consideration and calculus has been to focus more on people than devices – and specifically, how can we best protect our children and neighbors from those who chose to use a gun to commit violence, without vilifying law abiding citizens who chose to own a gun under their inalienable rights. This has been a difficult process."
Shaban continued by saying: "Thus, as a gun owner, lawyer and legislator, I believe that the resulting gun restrictions -- both the common sense ones and the problematic ones -- are acceptable (and Constitutional) when viewed, as they must be, in conjunction with the larger package containing the reforms in school security and mental health treatment. (Indeed, a republican motion to “divide the question” was defeated on a party line vote.) I support the final bill because, in total and on balance, I think it will effect a positive change despite its remaining imperfections."
Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says he spent many nights thinking about how he would vote on this bill. He was inclined to vote "no" before the grandfather clause was added for fears that the new law would not pass constitutional muster.
"December 14th changed a lot of people's view points on a lot of things. The preciousness of life, the priority of our lives and it certaintly affected me in a very great way quite frankly more than I would have anticipated."
McLachlan says this tragedy forced him to take pause and think about this debate in a different way than he never would have before.
"What I found was that Caroline Pheobe Previdi, who was 6 years old...whose grandparents and great-grandparents I have known my entire life, was lost that day at Sandy Hook...Under different circumstances I would look at this bill very differently. But today I am support this bill. In hopes, in hopes, that I am properly honoring Caroline Pheobe Previdi."
New Milford Senator Clark Chapin said he gave great consideration to the many different viewpoints that have been shared by email, phone and in person during several town hall meetings.
“During today’s legislative session, the final bill was shared with legislators only hours before the debate was scheduled to begin. After reviewing the 138-page document, I continue to have concerns with some of the provisions that would penalize law-abiding gun owners. While there are some worthwhile provisions that focus on gun violence, improving mental health care and school safety measures, I could not support today’s legislation since some provisions negatively impact those who responsibly use firearms for hunting, sports competition and self-defense in northwest Connecticut.”
Wilton Senator Toni Boucher said when a parent sends their child to school they expect them to be safe. She also related a story of her neighbor's children visiting her and telling about their school day. She said the kids practiced hiding in closets to see if they would fit and one tried to get inside her locker. Boucher said it's awful to think that that is what kids have to worry about now.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, whose district includes Newtown, said he felt he was representing the interests of the Sandy Hook victims as he cast his vote. ‘‘I stand here as their voice, as their elected representative,’’ he said, reciting the names of the 26 victims at the school.