The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission wrapped up more than two years of work Friday by accepting its report on the 2012 Newtown murders and making a plea to policymakers to adopt its recommendations.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the panel of education, mental health, law enforcement, and safety experts to report on the Dec. 14, 2012, murders of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The group made final changes to the report Friday and will meet next month to send the finalized version to the governor.
The more than 250-page document contains recommendations to further tighten Connecticut’s firearm regulations, harden the security of schools, and improve insurance coverage and access to behavioral health programs.
During Friday’s meeting, members of the commission reflected on their work and called for action on their recommendations. They agreed to meet informally in 2016 to discuss the status of their proposals.
“As people read this report and deliberate the future, please keep in mind the pictures of the 26 victims, in particular the 20 little angels that were massacred at Sandy Hook,” Bernard Sullivan, former Hartford police chief, said. “Because if that doesn’t make you understand the recommendations that we made, if that doesn’t make you feel differently about the world … then there’s not much anybody can say to you.”
However, some of the recommendations may be a tough sell for policymakers. The governor and the legislature responded to the shooting during the 2013 legislative session with a law that addressed many of the areas discussed by the commission. The bill enacted a ban on certain weapons and ammunition magazines.
The panel’s chairman, Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, told reporters the group’s report should not be ignored.
“This can’t be one of those reports. The lawmakers need to maintain their impetus the same way that we have. They need to remember how they felt on that tragic day,” he said. “The power is in their hands and we have every confidence they will use that power wisely.”
Whatever happens, Jackson ended Friday’s meeting by telling commission members that the group’s work has already had a positive impact.
“My son Max is in third grade. My son Eli is in first grade. Their school is safer today than it was. We should be proud,” he said.