Gov. Dannel P. Malloy admitted that the state may never know why a gunman took the lives of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but that doesn’t mean the state shouldn’t take steps to try to prevent future school shootings.
That’s why he formed the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Thursday to make specific policy recommendations regarding gun violence prevention, mental health, and school safety.
“This commission will look for ways to make sure our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system can reach those that need its help, and that our law enforcement has the tools it needs to protect public safety, particularly in our schools,” Malloy said.
The 15-member commission will be chaired by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson. Malloy said Jackson has the intellectual ability to handle these tough issues and the work ethic to get it done.
Jackson, who has a first-grade student the same age as many of the students killed in Newtown, said he doesn’t believe it will be a difficult task balancing his responsibility as mayor with serving as chair of the commission.
This “is possibly one of the most important things I could be doing right now,” Jackson said at a press conference outside the governor’s Capitol office.
The goal of the task force won’t be to compete with the legislation being proposed by lawmakers, Malloy said.
“I’m not trying to forestall the legislature from doing its job. but I’m the governor. And I want to put together a cross-section of people to address this issue concentrating on the nature of the incident to make recommendations to us,” Malloy said.“Understanding that has implications in weaponry, in mental health policy, physical infrastructure as well as staffing.”
There’s actually proposals already being made by lawmakers that he agrees with but he wants a more holistic view of all the issues.
Malloy said he would like to ban high-capacity magazines, like the one the shooter in Newtown used which carried 30 bullets. If the federal assault weapon ban had not expired or if Connecticut had passed legislation banning these high-capacity magazines then the “availability of that clip to this perpetrator may not have existed,” Malloy said.
“These clips aren’t used to hunt deer,” he said. “You don’t need a 30 round clip to go hunting.”
He said he thinks it’s time to have a discussion about the high-capacity magazines being used in these mass shootings. The common element in mass casualty shootings always revolves around the types of weapons used, he said.
“It would be stupid not to have that conversation,” Malloy said regarding gun control regulations.
Malloy declined to comment too much on what may be the appropriate amount of school security at the state’s schools. That being said, “hardening” school infrastructure may be an appropriate step to take, but that will be up to the commission to decide.
The other commission members will be announced over the coming days and will have backgrounds in education, mental health, law enforcement, and emergency response.
Malloy said the commission is expected to issue a report by March 15, but may stay in existence until after the criminal investigation has concluded to see if there’s anything more to examine.
State prosecutors said Thursday that they are still working on a criminal prosecution in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said his office will continue to work with state police, Newtown police, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and other local, state and federal agencies on “this open criminal investigation.”
“Once the investigation has been completed and all documents and evidence reviewed, State’s Attorney Sedensky will make any appropriate decisions regarding prosecutions pursuant to state law and will issue a report of the incident with input from all agencies involved,” according to a statement from the state’s attorneys office.