HARTFORD, Conn. — Thousands of people, including some first-time activists moved by the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, rallied Thursday at Connecticut's state Capitol, demanding lawmakers toughen gun laws.
Holding signs that read: "We are Sandy Hook. We deserve change" and "Let's get this done," many in crowd of about 5,500 said they wanted to make sure their opinions were heard and not overshadowed by vocal gun rights advocates as a special bipartisan task force attempts to reach consensus on possible law and policy changes affecting guns, mental health and school security.
"We have reached a tipping point, Connecticut. Our hearts are broken," said Nancy Lefkowitz, one of two mothers who formed the grass roots organization March for Change and helped organize the Valentine's Day rally.
The rally came exactly two months after a man went on a shooting rampage at the elementary school in Newtown before taking his own life.
Jillian Soto's sister, teacher Victoria Soto, was among those who died. She pleaded with policymakers to not forget the six educators and 20 first-graders who were killed and immediately pass gun reform legislation.
"It's not about political party or hidden agendas. It's about life," she said. "And my life and the lives of so many are now changed forever."
NRA: 'stand and fight': National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre renewed his call Thursday for armed guards in schools and urged gun owners to "stand and fight" for the Second Amendment. In a speech billed as the NRA response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union call for new gun regulations, LaPierre noted in remarks to the National Wild Turkey Federation in Nashville that the speech didn't mention school security. He dismissed Obama's calls for background checks for all firearms purchases and bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.