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Mayors Against Illegal Guns Out With New Ad Featuring Newtown Families

Gun Rights Advocates Square Off With Reformers In Anguished Conn. Town
Mayors Against Illegal Guns logo (credit: mayorsagainstillegalguns.org)

Mayors Against Illegal Guns logo (credit: mayorsagainstillegalguns.org)

Tragedy In Newtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Events took place around the nation Thursday as participants demand federal gun safety measures be enacted.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, organized Thursday’s “National Day To Demand Action” against gun violence.

The effort led to more than 120 events across the country and at the White House.

The group’s website directs participants to call their senator to urge them to pass gun control reforms. Bloomberg has noted recent statistics showing 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases. It is one of the proposals under consideration on the federal level.

“From President Obama to Newtown families to the many Americans and mayors in both political parties coming together at events across the country today, the call for Congress to take action to prevent gun violence is loud and clear,” said Bloomberg. “We cannot afford to wait for another tragedy — it’s long past time for elected officials to listen to their constituents and pass reforms like comprehensive background checks that we know will save lives.”

The events featured law enforcement officials, mayors, religious leaders and other members of the community joining the call for federal gun safety measures.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns launched a new ad featuring family members of some Newtown shooting rampage victims.

The family members describe the last time they saw their loved one before the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

The ad features Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Lewis; Chris and Lynn McDonnell, parents of Grace McDonnell; Jillian Soto, sister of Vicki Soto; and Terri and Gilles Rousseau, parents of Lauren Rousseau.

WATCH THE AD:

The coalition recently announced plans to hire organizers and open campaign offices in 10 states, where gun safety is a major voting issue. The group had been using the tag line “Demand A Plan” but that has since changed to “We Have A Plan. Now It’s Time For Congress To Act.”

Also Thursday, authorities released documents relating to the Newtown shooting. The warrants describe what was found in shooter Adam Lanza‘s home and car and detail the rampage.

Showdown In Newtown

On Thursday afternoon, gun control supporters and opponents are faced off at a rally in Newtown, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

The mother of murdered Sandy Hook student Dylan Hockley didn’t attend the gun-control rally. The demonstration at the National Shooting Sports Foundation is part of the political polarization she said she wants to avoid — a debate that distills too easily to “pro” and “anti” gun labels.

“I would ask them just to consider different perspectives and different conversations. I’m not anti-gun. I believe in the Second Amendment, too. I’m not anti-Second Amendment, but I believe with rights come responsibilities,” Nicole Hockley said.

The debate, though, has gotten hot, even as a new CBS News poll shows support for stricter gun laws dropped to 47 percent from a high of 57 percent in the immediate wake of the Connecticut massacre.

Gun control advocates, worried their window of opportunity is slipping away, are adamant.

“This has got to stop. It’s madness. It’s the wild, wild west. Assault weapons belong to our military, not in the classrooms and the malls,” resident Kathy Mayer said.

The president of the Newtown-based organization targeted by demonstrators Thursday said the focus on guns is too broad.

“The same firearms in the hands of a law-abiding sportsman is a horror show in the hands of a violent criminal who shouldn’t have them and is not legally entitled to possess them,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Steve Sanetti said.

Resident Daren Wagner told CBS 2’s Young he sees both sides and is searching for a balance.

“I’m a law enforcement officer, retired, so I know the need for somebody to own a gun. I believe in the Second Amendment, but it’s a right that comes with restrictions,” Wagner said.

And it’s the restrictions that worry gun enthusiasts — the slippery slope than leads to a loss of freedom.

“The devil is in the details. We all want what’s reasonable. We all want to take corrective measures. Where the fork is in the road and where we differentiate is how to implement and what are the corrective measures,” resident Dom Basile said.

So the debate rages. Some continue to push for an assault weapons ban, but legislative proposals seem to focus mostly on background checks and high-capacity magazines. It’s a conversation full of suspicion, and more than a little fear.

Connecticut is considering several gun control measures, citing the need to go slow. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already suggested his state’s recent gun legislation may need to be re-worked.

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