Connecticut's gun control debate is about to kick into high gear.
Groups on both sides of the issue are rallying their supporters to travel to the state capitol today for a public hearing of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety. The hearing, the first of the task force's gun control subcommittee, started at 10 a.m.
The task force was formed earlier this month in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the life of 20 first graders and six educators.
Rhetoric has become so loaded in the oft-divise gun control issue, and so many people are expected to attend the hearing, that police have put added safety measures in place at the Legislative Office Building, including metal detectors.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, has put out an action alert to its members, urging them to make every effort to attend the hearing in Hartford.
The foundation, which is based in Newtown, writes:
"This Monday might be the only chance for your voice to be heard before legislators craft legislation that will seriously affect not only your Second Amendment rights, but also rifles and magazines you currently own."
According to an article published by the Hartford Courant, NSSF plans to hold a press conference in the Legislative Office Building prior to the start of the hearing. The foundation will be joined by Connecticut-based gun manufacturers Colt and Mossberg & Sons, among others, the Courant reports.
On the other side are organizations like Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV). The nonprofit says it is dedicated to making Connecticut communities, families, and children safe from gun violence through a common sense approach to public education and legislative advocacy.
In addition to organizing a rally in Hartford on Feb. 14, CAGV has proposed legislation that:
- Requires that all weapons defined by law as assault weapons must be destroyed, turned in to law enforcement, or removed from Connecticut
- Does not grandfather existing weapons
- Large capacity ammunition magazines of more than seven rounds are to be destroyed, turned in to law enforcement, or removed from the state
“The eyes of the nation are on Connecticut. We hope that our elected officials will act swiftly on these measures because the horrific tragedy in Newtown compels Connecticut to pass the most comprehensive legislation in the nation," Ron Pinciaro, executive director of CAGV, said in a press release. "Extended delays will endanger the passage of the type of gun violence prevention measures that will make our communities safer.”
Today's hearing will be the second of four the task force is holding. The first covered school safety.
The next one, on mental health, will take place tomorrow in Hartford, and the final hearing, featuring all 50 members and covering all topics, will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Newtown High School. Turnout is expected to be high for the final hearing, too.