Daily Mail: Gun Rights Activists Shout At, "Heckle" Grieving Father During Gun Control Debate

Two sides clashed in Hartford Monday as parents of those lost in the Dec. 14 shooting, as parents made pleas for both social change and gun laws.


Both sides knew it would be a heated debate. And it was.

Advocates for and against gun control clashed in Hartford Monday at a public hearing for the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety, set up in response to the tragic shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Both sides knew the atmosphere would be tense, and that the Legislative Office Building in Hartford would be packed. Anticipating a huge crowd, police put additional security measures in place, including metal detectors.

More than 1,300 people signed up to speak, according to ABC News, with wait times as long as two hours.

One of those speakers was Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Jessie Heslin, a shooting victim. Heslin was one of three parents of children lost on Dec. 14 to speak at the hearing, along with Veronique Pozner and Mark Mattioli.

Heslin went head-to-head with gun control advocates, according to Fox News, saying he couldn't see a reason for any civilian to own a high-powered assault rifle like an AR-15 or an AK-47.

"The sole purpose of those ... is put a lot of lead out on the battlefield quickly. And that's what they do. And that's what they did at Sandy Hook Elementary on the 14th," said Heslin.

A handful of crowd members shouted back about Second Amendment rights. The Daily Mail newspaper online reported Heslin, holding a portrait of himself with his dead son, was "heckled" and that

An emotional father who lost his six-year-old son in the Newtown school shooting has been heckled by pro-gun activists as he testified at a local hearing on firearm control. Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed in last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, questioned the need for any civilian to own semiautomatic, military-style weapon at the state legislative subcommittee hearing in Hartford Connecticut on Monday. But he was shouted down by members of the audience who shouted 'The Second Amendment' as he spoke.

Heslin talked about what it was like to view his dead child:

He said: 'It's not a good feeling. Not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It's a real sad thing,' said Heslin, who held up a large framed photograph of himself and his son. A handful of people at the packed legislative hearing then shouted about their Second Amendment rights when Heslin asked if anyone could provide a reason for a civilian to own an assault-style weapon. 'We're all entitled to our own opinions and I respect their opinions and their thoughts,' Heslin said. 'But I wish they'd respect mine and give it a little bit of thought.'

Pozner and Mattioli asked questions about civility in today's society and the problem of evil. Pozner, who described her son as a "young philosopher," said she didn't always have the answers to his thoughtful questions, according to ABC.

She said Noah used to ask, "If there are bad guys out there, why can't they just all wake up one day and decide to be good?"

"The problem is a lack of civility," said Mattioli, who also called for stricter enforcement of existing laws, according to the Hartford Courant. "I believe in a few simple gun laws. I think we have more than enough on the books ... We should hold people individually accountable for their actions."

Response from pro-gun advocates was spurred by groups like Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the largest gun advocacy groups in the U.S. The group was thrown into the spotlight shortly after the December shooting when news organizations like the Huffington Post noticed its coincidental presence in Newtown.

Representatives from the NSSF joined Connecticut-based gun manufacturers, including Colt and Mossberg & Sons, in a press conference in Hartford Monday prior to the start of the hearing.

"We’re here to listen to what the legislature has to say and to work with the legislature, to be at the table to craft a solution," said NSSF Vice President Lawrence Keene at the conference, according to a release from the group's web site.

An widely distributed online action alert encouraging supporters to attend the hearing and sign up to speak bore stronger language, calling potential gun control measures "draconian" and "knee-jerk reaction legislation" that would make Connecticut gun owners "instant criminals."

"Legislators in Hartford are in the process of destroying your Second Amendment rights by exploiting recent tragedies," said the release.

Today's hearing will be the second of four the Task Force is holding. On Wednesday, the legislature will travel to Newtown for the final hearing at Newtown High School.

Mike Atkins February 01, 2013 at 06:18 PM
@ Rockland Farm, just wondering what you've done to other people that you think that you need an AR-15 to protect yourself and your family. Name one person, ever, who has shot an intruder to theri home with an AR-15. Bet you can't. You are just talking treasonous trash. I find your comments creepy.
Mike Atkins February 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM
psst Matt, ever hear of a rhetorical question?
Rockland Farm February 02, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Well Mike right off the top of my head the Korean shopkeepers during the L.A. riots come to mind . And what you fail to understand is we gun owners don't want to shoot someone , we just want the what we feel as knowledgeable firearm owners what is best for our needs . I suggest you do a search and you will find examples .But you can't just pick and choose to suit your needs .Also look for times they were used to scare off the bad guy without a shot fired . I find it interesting that you try and twist it around that I must be some type of bad person because I wish to protect my family as I see fit . I would not tell you what you should do to protect your family why are you so pompous that you can tell me what to do . Your way of thinking must mean the Petit family must have done something to their attackers and it was the Petits fault or perhaps those poor kids in Sandy Hook did something to Adam Lanza. I see it like this if a couple intruders enter my home with evil intent , first Rockland shows scary looking black rifle and hopefully they leave without a shot fired .If that doesn't work and god forbid I have to shoot after it is all said and done I want to be there with left over bullets in my 30 round magazine not needing 11 or 12 shots but having been restricted to 10 .It is simply preparing for the worst and hoping for the best .The fact that you wish to vilify me without knowing me or what I have seen and done in my life time makes me think you are pretty creepy .
Lin February 03, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Hey, guess what...this story as reported on MSNBC is B.S.! They edited the video to make it appear as if these people were heckling the father and it never happened...GULLIBLE PEOPLE!!!
Lin February 03, 2013 at 03:17 PM


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