NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — On Wednesday night, the parents of the children killed in the Newtown shooting rampage took center stage in the gun debate.
The parents who spoke at a public hearing, along with hundreds of others, all agreed that a lot must change in the wake of the tragedy.
However, there was some division on how exactly to make that change.
More than 100 people spoke before the 52-member legislative task force inside Newtown High.
“I do not believe that day was the end of the world, but the start of something new,” Nicole Hockley said.
Hockley urged Connecticut state legislators to act swiftly so another parent never suffers her same fate. She spoke before the Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety while her husband clutched a picture of their 6-year-old son, Dylan Hockley.
Killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14 were 19 other 1st graders at the hands of gunman Adam Lanza.
“We lost our son Benjamin [Wheeler] the morning of Dec. 14 to an unstable, suicidal individual, who had access to a weapon that has no place in a home,” David Wheeler said.
The lawmakers came to Newtown to hear from the hundreds who packed into the auditorium. The most heart-wrenching pleas for more stringent gun laws came from the families.
Bill Sherlach’s wife, Mary, was the school psychologist and one of the first gunned down.
“I do know that shots fired inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in a few short minutes is almost incomprehensible, even in today’s modern age. This leads me to believe there is room for some sort of sanity to go into the dialogue about firearms,” Sherlach said.
Speakers also addressed the need for better mental health care and education.
Six-year-old Jesse Lewis’ mom, Scarlett, has started a foundation called “Jesse Lewis: Choose Love.”
“Our children need to learn that they can choose love over anger and they can choose gratitude over entitlement and in doing so, shape a happy and healthy future,” she said.
But some spoke out against tighter gun laws.
“We must give the blame for this to Adam Lanza, not the Connecticut firearms owners who have done nothing illegal or irresponsible,” said Sandy Hook Resident Michael Collins.
But the parents of children were pleading for Connecticut lawmakers to take action.
“That every decision you make is made as if it were your child that didn’t walk out of the school that day,” said Sandy Hook parent Susie Ehrens.
“I don’t profess to know what all the changes will be, but I think it’s very fitting that these changes, these new beginnings, come from this peaceful place, aptly named Newtown,” said Nicole Hockley.
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