What do you say when you’re the gun lobby based down the road from where a gunman has invaded a school and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six women? At first, just a brief statement of shock and sympathy, but no major pronouncements. “We figured it would just be exacerbating the suffering of people in the town,” Sanetti said.
Gradually, the NSSF has become more outspoken, as have some Connecticut gun companies. This is the nation's historic center of firearms manufacturing. People refer to the Connecticut River Valley as “gun valley.” If you own a revolver, it was probably made in New England. Most of the rifles made in the United States come from the Northeast. It’s no accident that the firearms lobby is based in Connecticut.
Sanetti, in a rare sit-down interview in his office, said the new push for bans on military-style weapons and large ammunition magazines smacks of political opportunism.
“The horrors of 20 dead children, frankly, is being exploited,” he said.
New gun laws, he suggested, could be a product of an emotional reaction more than of a rational one.
“Anytime people act out of fear or act out of haste or act out of anger, they’re liable to make a bad decision,” Sanetti said.
But many people in Connecticut say that now is precisely the time to act. They say that if we can’t take action to curb gun violence after what happened in Newtown, when could we ever do it?
On Valentine’s Day, about 5,000 people from across the state gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Hartford, and on the plaza in front, and on top of snowbanks, to demand tighter restrictions on firearms. Many had never marched for anything or ever waved a placard. What happened in Newtown got them off the couch and onto buses and to Hartford, to stand in the cold and demand action.
“My sister went to school on December 14 to make gingerbread houses with her kids,” Jillian Soto told the crowd. Her older sister, Victoria Soto, was one of the teachers killed at Sandy Hook.
“Think about the five most important people in your life. What if one were murdered?” she said. “Someday, I’ll get married, and I won’t have her as my maid of honor as we’d always planned.”
Lawmakers here had hoped to come up with a bipartisan bill to curb gun violence, but Democrats are increasingly skeptical that Republicans will join the effort. Gov. Dan Malloy (D), unhappy that the legislature hasn’t taken action, produced his own proposals last week, including a stricter definition of assault weapons, tightening an existing ban. The governor’s plan also would prohibit ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds. A vote in the legislature could come any day.