A day after the Newtown shooting, two mothers who live in Fairfield County felt compelled to do something. They spoke to five other mothers and pretty soon the group mushroomed to 250. It now includes more than 1,500.
The two mothers, Nancy Lefkowitz and Meg Staunton, then teamed up with Connecticut Against Gun Violence to organize a March for Change, which they describe as a grassroots, bipartisan effort in support of the gun-control group’s agenda.
Lefkowitz, who attended the Million Mom March on May 14, 2000, said gun enthusiasts have been organized for a long time and it’s time for them to experience the opposition.
An estimated 1,000 gun owners turned out for a rally this past Saturday at the state Capitol to oppose any sort of restrictions on their right to carry a gun of their choosing. The turnout puts pressure on Lefkowitz’s group to turn out an even larger crowd at their state Capitol rally on Feb. 14.
“We do feel pressure because we have been bullied by the opposition long enough,” Lefkowitz said. “We need to be louder and come out stronger to ensure that our legislators understand that we mean business.”
That’s why they’ve teamed up with Connecticut Against Gun Violence, a group dedicated to making communities safe from gun violence.
“We told them we can bring you noise. We can bring you passion,” Lefkowitz said Tuesday in describing why the group teamed up with the gun-control organization.
She said there is a heightened sense of urgency to get gun control legislation passed when “20 babies” are killed. She was referring to the 20 first graders gunned down in their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
Lefkowitz expressed confidence that the group will turn out more than 1,000 people for its rally.
“We have reached a tipping point and it’s time we let our legislators know where we stand,” Staunton said in a statement. “March for Change will be respectful but relentless in the pursuit of safer gun laws in Connecticut.”
The legislative suggestions put forth by the group Tuesday are “the most ambitious” in the state’s history, according to Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. The suggestions are as follows:
—Strengthen the assault weapons ban by requiring that all weapons having military features be banned and that existing weapons defined as assault weapons be destroyed, turned in to law enforcement, or removed from the state.
—Ban large capacity ammunition magazines of more than 7 rounds and that existing magazines of more than 7 rounds be destroyed, turned in to law enforcement, or removed from the state. New York State has just adopted law that established the 7-round limit.
—Require permits and universal background checks on ALL sales and transfers of guns, including long guns.
—Require registration of handguns with annual renewal; require annual fee and annual background check for all handguns owned; require that the owner stipulate that the guns are still in their possession or explain how the gun was transferred to another person; require safety inspection every three years.
—Make gun owners liable for negligent storage if any person gains access to firearms and injures himself or another person or causes damage to property. The violation would be a Class D felony.
—Ban the right of way for transportation of firearms and ammunition bought over the Internet.
—Tax ammunition sales and require a license/permit to purchase any gun or ammunition.
—Restrict handgun sales to one gun/month.
Some of these suggestions already have been incorporated in legislative proposals from lawmakers, while others will be discussed by both Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which meets Thursday, and the bipartisan legislative task force, which will hold its first public hearing on Friday.
“We hope that our elected officials will act swiftly on these measures because the horrific tragedy in Newtown compels Connecticut to pass the most comprehensive legislation in the nation,” Pinciaro said in a statement. “Extended delays will endanger passage of the type of gun violence prevention measures that will make our communities safer.”