Conn. Lawmakers Respond to Newtown Tragedy

(NECN: Brian Burnell) - In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings five weeks ago, donations totaling $8.5 million have poured in.

The town has established a five-person transition team to set up a foundation and figure out how to best use that money. Recently retired Senator Joe Lieberman has agreed to advise the team on how to proceed.

"I can't think of anything worse that has happened in Connecticut in my lifetime than the murders of December 14th here in Newtown," Lieberman said. "I will tell you also that I can not think of a time when I have been prouder of people in Connecticut."

The United Way has already set up a separate $200,000 fund to meet immediate needs.

While that went on in Newtown, the first meeting of the bi-partisan legislative task force was held in Hartford to ensure Newtown never happens again.

There was a rare moment of silence in a room full of politicians - such is the effect of the Newtown tragedy.

"We have the world watching us, frankly. The entire country, certainly," Conn. House Speaker Rep. Brendan Sharkey said.

The task force is broken up into three sub-committees to address mental health issues, school safety and gun control. Each will hold separate public hearings. The entire task force will hear from the public at a hearing in Newtown at the end of the month. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney knows the people there expect a conversation.

"They want that conversation to be civil. They want it to be beyond politics and we can do that in Connecticut. Are we going to agree on everything? Absolutely not," he said.

One of the sticking points may be an assault weapons ban.

"Getting the weapons of war out of the hands of the people who would hurt our children," Senate President Donald Williams said.

On the national level, the NRA has pledged to block such a ban. Can Connecticut get it done?

"I think the NRA really risks isolating itself and appearing to represent a small group of extremists as opposed to mainstream sportsmen and the vast majority of Americans," Sen. Williams said.

Expect legislation by the end of February.

Contact Us