– Audrey Hussey and Simbo Toukourou came from opposite ends of Connecticut to attend a packed hearing on guns at the state Capitol Monday.
"I'm here to stand up for my Second Amendment rights and to teach my children that this is how you do it,'' said Hussey, a gun owner from Putnam who waited with her two sons, whom she home schools, for more than 90 minutes in the falling snow just to enter the building. "They need to know that, if they don't get involved, it can all be taken away."
Toukourou traveled from
Their differing views were evident in their stickers – Hussey's bright yellow circle identified her as Another Responsible Gun Owner while Toukourou wore a white button with a green broken heart and the words March for Change.'
Although the yellow stickers vastly outnumbered the white Monday, the hearing drew more than 2,000 people representing a broad range of philosophical beliefs to the Legislative Office Building. Some waited more than two hours in the falling snow before walking through metal detectors that were set up for this hearing.
And despite the metal detectors, heightened police presence — and a mid-morning false fire alarm — the hearing proceeded largely without incident.
Yet the difficulty of finding common ground was evident even among the Newtown parents who lost children in the Dec. 14 massacre at
The speakers, who were limited to about three minutes, represented a broad cross-section of the state's population. There were sportsmen and teachers, clergy members and survivors of crime, people from the cities and residents of Connecticut's rural outposts.
Several gun control opponents expressed a deep mistrust of government and said their weapons are their last line of defense. Some of them carried a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution in their pockets.
One gun control critic invoked the words of both
Michael Aron of
Others emphasized an economic argument against increased regulation, noting the important role the state's arms industry plays. A group of employees from Bullet Trap USA, a Burlington-based company that makes bullet traps for military and law enforcement, took the day off from work to attend the hearing.
But gun control supporters also cited the Constitution. Stephen Holmes of West Hartford said he became a U.S. citizen on Aug. 8, 2008. "I took an oath that I was proud to take with tears in my eyes,'' he said. "The Second Amendment shall not be infringed but that does not mean the madness we witnessed in Sandy Hook can go without some response."
Steve Barton of
"You know, when I have conversations with members of the
Phillip W. Mauriello, a retired military employee from
"I have an old gun my grandfather gave me,'' he said. "I don't want to have to give that up because it's more than five rounds, 10 rounds, whatever they come up with."
But, Mauriello said he's not opposed to common sense. "We can compromise on a lot of this stuff ... this was a terrible horrific thing that happened."