Women testify on gun violence in Hartford

A group of women from Wilton were among the 2,000 or more people who thronged to Hartford on Monday, braving snow and sleet for hours, in order to testify on the issue of gun violence before members of the General Assembly’s Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.

The hearing was overseen by the group charged with gun safety.

Among those from Wilton was Lucy Davies, who is spearheading a Wilton chapter of Connecticut Against Gun Violence with Harrison DeStefano. She traveled to Wilton with Heather Herve, their original group reduced in size because of an early school dismissal.

“We were waiting in the snow for two hours to get in,” Ms. Davies said. The use of metal detectors, which is highly unusual in the Legislative Office Building, slowed the admission process. “They had warming buses outside,” she said. “It was really something.

“While we waited outside we kept seeing people we know from Redding, Weston and Ridgefield. … There were people wearing green scarves and ribbons.”

Also in the crowd was Giselle Mazier, another Wiltonian who also waited on line for several hours with a friend from Redding.

“Once we got in we picked numbers” to determine the order in which people would speak,” Ms. Mazier said. Ms. Davies’ number was 1,044. Ms. Mazier was a bit luckier, drawing 799, but her friend drew 1481.

“She testified at 2 a.m.,” said Ms. Mazier, who stayed with her friend. They arrived home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“It was quite jarring,” Ms. Mazier said of the experience, “because I think when we’re all together we’re powerful. But we were so outnumbered (by those opposing further gun restrictions) it was a little bit scary.”

When she testified, Ms. Mazier said, she spoke of her beliefs and the personal connection she felt to the Newtown shooting.

“My son’s friend from camp was one of the victims,” she said. “I talked about their first year in camp when they were 4. Sometimes I would grab him from behind because he resembled my son. I felt a bit of a connection and I thought about that family.

“I do support the Second Amendment. I come from a family of responsible gun owners. I had to say we’re not trying to take away the guns … but I feel the current interpretation (of the Second Amendment) is so far from the original intent. Our forefathers could not have imagined the destructive technology of weapons today.”

She was particularly disturbed, she said, by the testimony of some who said if further restrictions on gun ownership are passed they will not abide by them.

“I am hoping for commonsense gun laws we can come together on.”

Carrie Brady is another Wiltonian who testified Monday “because I made a promise to myself on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre that I would actually do something about gun violence instead of continuing to complain about the problem without working to improve it,” she said. “I also wanted to highlight common ground in what has been an increasingly polarized debate.”

In her testimony, which is available online at http://youtu.be/A0xCzYnwRo4, Ms. Brady said, “We’re all emotional. … That doesn’t mean we’re irrational.”

The image that those who are in favor of stricter gun legislation want to take away all guns is just that, she said, an image that “keeps us polarized and keeps us from working together.”

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