Dave Wheeler, whose son Benjamin died at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, quoted a founding father at a public hearing in Newtown, Conn., on Wednesday. “Thomas Jefferson described our inalienable rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Wheeler said. “I do no think the order of those important words was haphazard and casual. The liberty of any person to own a military assault weapon and high-capacity magazine and to keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life.”
Wheeler was one of more than 100 parents, police officers, clergy members and Newtown residents who spoke at the fourth and final public hearing held by the Connecticut legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence and Children’s Safety. While the first three hearings covered school safety, gun violence and mental health, respectively, Wednesday’s hearing provided an opportunity to address any of those subjects.
As with the earlier hearing on gun violence, opinions were mixed on whether the legislature should pass stricter gun control measures, like a ban on semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines. None of the speakers whose children died in the shooting opposed such measures, and some vehemently argued in favor of them.