Powerful words spoken at Newtown, Conn. hearing

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January 30, 2013, 10:52 pm
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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Newtown, Conn.) - The people of Newtown, Conn. expressed their grief and drive for change at a public hearing Wednesday night.

The hearing started at 6 p.m. at Newtown High School and was hosted by the legislative task force that's looking into what to do following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adult staff members on Dec. 14.

The task force is divided into three committees. One is looking at school security, another is looking at mental health and a third is looking at gun control. However, the entire task force attended the hearing in Newtown on Wednesday in order to make sure Newtown residents have their say.

Not every resident who spoke talked about gun control.

"I believe anger is a major issue in society. You do not use a gun against someone else unless you're angry or a victim," Scarlette Lewis, mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, said at the meeting.

But subject of guns did dominate the conversation.

Bill Sherlach's wife Mary was the Sandy Hook Elementary School psychologist killed as she tried to protect children.

"High capacity magazines. Simple arithmetic says that a smaller magazine needs to be replaced more often than a larger magazine. This will only lead to shorter increments of time where intervention could occur and the body count might be less. In fact, 11 children managed to escape when the shooter stopped to reload," he said.

Susan Aaron's daughter is one of the children who survived the shooting.

"She and eight other children ran from that room directly past him, but not before witnessing her friends and her teacher slaughtered in front of her," she said.

David Wheeler's son Benjamin was lost, and he spoke about gun control and mental health.

"We lost our son Benjamin the morning of Dec. 14 to an unstable, suicidal individual who had access to a weapon that has no place in a home," he said.

Those who argue against tougher gun laws cite the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Susan Aaron disagrees.

"We stop being the world's greatest country when we allow our most vulnerable citizens to be slaughtered because we might offend people by taking away their guns. We stop being something to be proud of when we love our guns more than we love our children," she said.

The task force has to figure out what do to next legislatively. While they want to make educated decisions, they want to make them by February in order for state lawmakers to debate and vote on them.

Tags: connecticut, mental health, Newtown, Brian Burnell, gun control, sandy hook elementary school, school security, legislative task force, Newtown hearing, Newtown residents
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