Thousands gather at Conn. gun control rally

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February 14, 2013, 6:40 pm
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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Hartford, Conn.) - They sang, they chanted and, perhaps most importantly, they showed up.  

According to police, more than 5,000 people called for tighter gun control in Hartford on Thursday in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School two months ago.

Among the speakers was Jillian Soto, who was flanked by her cousins holding pictures of her sister, Victoria, the first grade teacher credited with saving 11 kids by telling the killer her students were not in the classroom.  

Soto spoke of her sister’s heroic actions that day, "Who's last images on earth was staring down the barrel of an assault rifle held by an extremely sick man."

Victoria was found shot dead, cradling a child in her arms.

"My sister died for a reason. She died protecting her students and died fighting for their life and this is what she would want," Soto said. "She would want us here fighting for change."

Veronique Pozner lost her 6-year-old son Noah that day. She told the crowd this tragedy can not be allowed to stand as the last word.

"How could anyone think that my son or any of those whose lives were stolen that day were so disposable that it is acceptable to do nothing?" Pozner said.

They were joined by others, including survivors of gun violence and politicians as they called for a ban on assault weapons with no grandfather clause, a ban on high capacity magazines and universal background checks on anyone buying a gun.  

Gov. Dannel Malloy made clear where he stands, telling the cheering crowd, "If you can't get on a plane without having a background check you shouldn't be buying a gun without a background check."

There were a lot more people at this rally than there were for a rally against gun control back in January but the organizers say that's not the point.

Nancy Lefkowitz, an organizer of March for Change, says, "We don't like to think of this as an 'us or them' situation. A show of support is critical. The legislators need to see that there is critical mass. That there is a majority of people of their constituents that feel the way that we feel."

There is little question something will be done in Connecticut during the current legislative session. How tough the restraints on gun ownership will be remains to be seen.

Tags: hartford, connecticut, Newtown, Brian Burnell, gun control, state house, Dannel Malloy, sandy hook elementary, gun control rally, Jillian Soto, Veronique Pozner
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