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HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – A panel of experts charged by Conn. Gov. Dan Malloy is meeting Thursday to review state laws and policies in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
In its first meeting, the 16-member Sandy Hook Advisory Commission heard from experts who sat on similar commissions following the mass shootings Columbine High School in Colorado and at Va. Tech.
Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said the Columbine Review Commission did not specifically address assault weapons, but said its report become an “important conversation in America.”
He urged the panel to not only review gun laws, but to also look at mental health and gun violence.
“What we don’t want is a policy debate in this country, or in Connecticut, that gets locked down around the polar opposites of gun control,” Ritter said.
Virginia Law Professor Richard Bonnie, who was a consultant to then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kane’s review panel, said the Sandy Hook commission should not feel pressured to act quickly in recommending policy changes.
He said acting prematurely could lead to “disproportionate responses.”
Malloy echoed that sentiment telling the panel “this is not a race,” but urged them to have some preliminary recommendations before June 5 when the legislature adjourns.
The governor said the commission will investigate exactly what happened at Sandy Hook and then make recommendations in the areas of school security, guns and mental health.
“I think the biggest challenge is to get us a set of recommendations that we can work with legislatively and get at least a preliminary out by mid-March,” Malloy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.”
Heading up the panel is Mayor Scott Jackson of Hamden.
“Based upon what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, we know we can walk in the door knowing that guns and ammunition, that mental health and that physical school security are things that we have to look at, but there may be more,” he said.
The agenda also includes public hearings for citizen input and testimony from out-of-state officials. Hamden said the testimony received will be valuable and used to develop the best series of public policy statements possible.
Also addressing the panel Thursday was State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, who said it will take investigators several months to finish their report on the shooting.
“All leads need to be investigated and all evidence examines before final decisions and statements are made,” he said.
Sedensky said the report could be ready by June and said that “no prosecution is on the horizon.”
“If the investigation reveals that there should be a criminal prosecution, then that prosecution would take precedence over any report,” he said.
Sedensky added that he could not provide any information about the mental health of the shooter, Adam Lanza.
The Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook left 20 first-graders and six adults dead.
What do you think needs to be done in the wake of the Newtown massacre? Share your ideas in the comments section below.