Legislators Create Bipartisan Task Force After Newtown

Jan 15, 2013

Connecticut legislators are establishing a bipartisan task force to recommend possible legislation to prevent gun violence, provide mental health care and improve school safety. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, this comes a month after the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Senate President Pro-Tem Donald Williams says the group will review current law and could propose a comprehensive bill for a vote by the end of February. But a major emphasis will be on guns. "There are many different factors that contribute to the culture of violence in the United States. But guns are the most direct, the most dangerous, and the most deadly. So if we do not address that challenge head on, then we will not have fully addressed the problem."

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said lawmakers need to craft a comprehensive, thoughtful, bipartisan plan. He says "the eyes of the country" are on Connecticut. He also says he doesn't feel pressure from New York state, which is debating its own gun safety measures. "Taking quick action is important. But taking smart action is more important. I think we owe it to the public to be careful in what we do. Move quickly and respond quickly, but do it in an intelligent way."

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican, sees a "genuine interest in working together" on legislation responding to the Newtown shootings. "As the state senator for Newtown, I know that we need to take action. So I think what we're doing here is taking that conversation above politics, doing it in a thoughtful, efficient, and effective way." The group's first full meeting is this Friday.