Father of Slain 6-Year-Old Asks \’Why Does Anyone Need An Assault Weapon?\’

by Categorized: Sandy Hook Date:

Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, was among the Sandy Hook parents to address a legislative committee reviewing gun policy n Monday.

During his emotional testimony — which was interrupted by a false alarm caused by a malfunctioning piece of equipment in the basement of the Legislative Office Building — Heslin repeatedly called for greater restrictions on assault weapons.

\”I just hope that everybody in this room…can support change,\’\’ he said. \”I don\’t know how many people have young children or children but just try putting yourself in the place I\’m in…and having a child that you lost. It\’s not a good feeling. It\’s not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or look at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead, it\’s a real sad thing.

\”I ask…if there\’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason…why anybody…needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high capacity clips,\’\’ Heslin asked.

\”The Second Amendment shall not be infringed,\’\’ a man shouted and several other people yelled as well.

State Sen. Martin Looney, who was presiding over the hearing, asked the crowd to refrain from responding. If they refused, he said he would \”clear the room.\”

Heslin said the people in the audience were entitled to their opinions. \”And I respect their opinions and their thoughts but I wish they\’d respect mine and give it a little bit of though and realize that it could have been their child that was in that school that day.\’\’

Heslin brought a framed photograph of his son, taken when the boy was just six-months-old.

\”He was my son, he was my buddy, he was my best friend,\’\’ Heslin said, his voice breaking. \”I never thought I\’d be here speaking like this, asking for changes on my son\’s behalf. I never thought I\’d be laying him to rest. The happiest of my life was the day he was born, he\’s my only son, my only family.

\”And the worst day of my life was the day when this happened and I buried him.\”

Heslin said he\’s not a gun owner now but he was raised in a household with guns. \”In fact, I started skeet shooting when I was 8-years-old. I was educated on the safety of guns, my father was an avid hunter. I was hunting ever since I was…10 or 12 years old with him,\’\’ he said.

Heslin said he backs much stricter gun rules but also supports other policy changes. \”There\’s a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened. Mental health being a big part, going back to the basics. Better parenting. When I was raised, I was raised to respect my parents and my elders, not to kill my mother while she was sleeping,\’\’ he said. Police said Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, before driving to the school.

But Heslin kept returning to the need for gun control legislation. \”I can\’t see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort,\’\’ he said.

\”You\’re not going to use them for hunting, even for home protection. Semi-automatic or automatic [weapons are] one of the most inaccurate weapons out there. The sole purpose of those AR -15 or AK-47s is to put a lot of lead out in a battlefield quickly and that\’s what they do.

\”And that\’s what they did at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. That wasn\’t just a killing, that was a massacre. Those children and those victims were shot apart. and my son was one of them.\”

The morning of the shooting, Heslin dropped off his son at 9:04. \”I saw the clock,\” he recalled.

\”I walked him into the school, he gave me a hug and a kiss…and I gave him a hug and a kiss back and he said goodbye. He said \’I love you\’ and he said \’I love mom too.\’\’\’

They were going to make gingerbread houses later that day.

\”We never made it,\’\’ Heslin said. \”Twenty minutes after that my son was dead. There\’s no reason for it.\’\’

Heslin returned to the school an hour and a half later, along with other frantic parents. \”It was like a military installation, SWAT team members, families…hysterical, state police from all over the state, FBI. It was unbelievable. Students there, looking to be reunited with their parents, parents looking for their children.\’\’

Jesse was a student in Victoria Soto\’s classroom, where 10 students survived. Afterward, he heard from some parents of those survivors that Jesse had shouted to his classmates to run.

\”I hope those words helped those children survive,\’\’ Heslin said.


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43 thoughts on “Father of Slain 6-Year-Old Asks \’Why Does Anyone Need An Assault Weapon?\’

  1. Repeal the 2nd Billy

    I fully support the legislation proposed by CAGV. This gun-crazed country of ours has become an armed camp like no other developed nation on earth. We measure our security in terms of the weapons we think we should possess.

    The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is only one manifestation of a society held hostage by the gun industry interested only in their profits over the blood of children and anyone else caught by chance in front of a speeding bullet. Our society is held hostage by the gun industry that spreads the poison of paranoia in the minds of its customers that the government is coming to take away their liberty by way of their guns.

    Hell, do they think that an unruly gang of overweight men grasping a carbine in the air with one hand and holding up their pants with the other while running up the green mountain to challenge the US Marines is going to win their day?

    Do they really dream this fantasy?

    The solution is not to arm more good guys to go after bad guys.

    The solution is less guns. Or no guns. One of the solutions is the strong legislation submitted by Connecticut Against Gun Violence advocacy group. A more far-reaching solution would be to consider repealing the 2nd amendment. The modern interpretation of this now archaic amendment has been much maligned.

    It speaks of a “well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In modern parlance, this sentence wouldn’t make any sense unless one realizes that “the people” being referred to was a “well regulated militia” or for the purposes of Connecticut, aka, The National Guard.

    The 2nd amendment did not speak to every Tom, Dick and maladjusted Harry as they would have you believe.

    I sometimes wonder if some of these wild-eyed paranoid collectors of assault weapons measure the size of their weapons as a symbolic reassurance to what they consider to be the size of their genitals and if they do, then that is an eye correction problem waiting to be examined.

    \The British Parliament passed a law in 1996 outlawing most guns. After first banning handguns larger then 22 caliber, they passed a second law outlawing all caliber weapons. The parliament vote was 384-181. It was not a partisan vote.

    If we do not resolve to enact real gun control legislation, we will be doomed to repeat the Sandy Hook Massacre. We will repeat Tuscon and we will repeat Aurora.

    We will repeat the senseless tens of thousands of murders committed annually by criminals obtaining guns because they are available to be used for their evil deeds one way or another.

    1. Kim

      verbal gymnastics only reveal the lack of truth in your words, Repeal. ‘In modern parlance’, you say. Why would anyone interpret the words of the 2nd amendment using ‘modern parlance’? The founding fathers used the language of their time which, unlike today, was quite clear and specific.

      You have been pointed to sources that clear this issue up repeatedly over the past year and a half, on these blogs alone. Your choice to ignore the truth speaks volumes about the validity (or lack thereof) of your argument. The quality of your words – not the quantity – is what matters. Unfortunately, I find the quality lacking

    2. Kim

      Repeal – your logic escapes objective readers. Your made-up facts do little to support your agenda.

      No one thought the colonists could defeat England. They did.

      No one thought the Afghani rebels could defeat the Soviet Union (or Alexander the Great). They did.

      Your (false) assertion that because citizens of this country may not be physically fit and therefore should be deprived of the tools to defend themselves against tyranny, is an argument FOR the second amendment, not against it. Again, your agenda blinds you to this simple truth.

      Your obsession with male genitalia is simply that and has not rational place in this argument.

      In your zeal you refer to the ‘tens of thousands of murders committed annually’ (without data, mind you), yet refuse to acknowledge the tens of thousands of innocent people who are saved from being victims because of responsible, legal gun ownership. This information has been provided to you as well over the past 18 months, but again, you refuse to consider it in your one-sided arguments. Another example of willful ignorance which only proves that your agenda is more important than the truth or anyone’s safety.

      Your statement about British banning of handguns had no point other than to state that they banned handguns. So what? So did Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, etc. Shall we discuss the results of those bannings, or is the subjugation of their citizens enough to show that banning private ownership of handguns is in itself bad for the general population, their safety, and their personal freedoms? Or are you trying to point out that there is something moral and honorable about turning innnocent people into targets and victims of those with evil intent?

    3. Repeal the 2nd Billy

      It seems the monkey cages have been rattled today.

      I made one mistake in my post and nobody found it.

      Hey Kimmerian, how you been doing? Well, I hope.

      There is a public meeting in Newtown Wednesday evening and anyone can speak. You may go and express you opinions.

      1. Repeal the 2nd Billy

        PS: The reason I have elected to sound so sarcastic is the sarcasm on the side of NRA supporters. I just answer fire with fire. I would normally prefer civil dialogue. But this isn’t the world we live in. I heard some of the remarks of the speakers at the State Capital yesterday. It wasn’t a cub scout meeting.

        1. Kim

          stop making excuses for being rude, crude and socially unacceptable, repeal. Sarcasm is your only tool because you can’t use reason and logic. Civil dialogue is not in your repertoire of tools. You are part of the world we live in and can choose to act reasonably. The fact that you choose not to is not going to be whitewashed away by your protestations that ‘everyone else does it, so why shoudn’t I?’

          You’re not answering fire with fire – you are lighting the matches. But personal responsibility is not in your repertoire either

          1. rally for gun reform Feb 14 at capital at 11 bill

            Kim: That coming from the King of Rude? As I mentioned previously, we all made a peace pack before the Current took down the blogs. That kind of had its own symbolism in itself.

            So, do you remember, Kim? Then after I posted my strongly-worded position, you reacted with extraordinary negativity. I wasn’t addressing you. I was making my position known. So you started it this time.

            If you want, we may try for a clause to the first peace treaty and vow to not personally disrespect each other. If you admit to your previous wrongs, as I am now, and vow to give up negative expressions directed at anyone in particular, then I will too.

            And if you can’t reach this accord, we are all going to deleted from these blogs anyways. How is that for a zero option?

  2. Kim

    As usual, Repeal, you ignore the truth about what the founding fathers’ believed when the created the second amendment. Your agenda blinds you to the facts that have often been laid out at your feet. You have even been given the name of books to read that would clarify this subject. But you refuse to open your mind to the truth of this amendment and its purpose. This alone disqualifies you from engaging in honest, open discussion on this issue. Willful ignorance is not welcome in honest discussions.

    Fortunatley for the freedom of our citizens, the founding fathers created this amendment to protect us against overreaching governments, who may act based on words like yours. Yes, Repeal, the 2nd Amendment is there to protect us against those, like you, who want to diminish our freedoms.

    1. Poet

      Just one thought. Although I do not support the repeal of the second amendment, do you think the Founding Fathers had any conception of assault weapons and semiautomatics when they wrote it? If they had, do you think there is at least a chance they would have suggested controls for such weapon types? There has to be a reasonable compromise that takes into account many things. Extremists on both sides who dig in and refuse to listen to anything that does not go along with their belief will not improve this society or the situation. Everyone must be willing to at least listen.

      1. Kim

        Poet – thanks for the post. First, and to be clear, assault weapons weren’t used at Sandy Hook or other places trumpeted by the press.

        The argument that the founding fathers weren’t familiar with assault weapons is a false argument that has nothing to do with the reasoning behind the second amendment, which was to afford citizens the means of defending themselves against an overreaching government and those who wish them harm. The logic is simple: we have the right to defend ourselves against tyranny. To defend ourselves against tyranny, the playing field has to be MORE equal, not LESS equal. That means appropriate and suitable weapons are necessary. It is necessary, therefore, for citizens to arm themselves with the latest and the best.

        Do you really expect us to defend ourselves against the modern weapons of today, with black powder muskets? If you do, then you’re right – everyone must be willing to at least listen. If anything, the reasoning behind the second amendment only SUPPORTS ownership of weapons capable of defending ourselves against a highly armed, highly trained goverment. This includes ownership of assault weapons, which are currently illegal in most instances.

        A better question would be: why do you support the second amendment? Do you really know what it is for and what the founders were thinkng when they created it? Don’t you think that is important to know before deciding one way or the other? If you really want to know (as you say, listen), I refer you to Stephen Halbrooks’ ‘The Founders Second Amendment’. Through letters between themselves and quotes known to belong to them, it becomes quite clear where the founders stood on this amendment.

        Here are some interesting facts for you:

        “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

        “The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.”
        –Samuel Adams, debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87. (KIM’S NOTE: PLEASE NOTICE THE WORD ‘NEVER’)

        “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government…”
        — Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist (#28) .

        Patrick Henry once asked, “Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense?”

        Ghandi practiced non-violence because he knew that pitchforks wouldn’t accomplish his goals against an army with guns (by the way, this is an argument IN FAVOR of the private ownership of weapons reasonably comparable in use and power to those of the government). He also realized that the average citizen of India was deprived of the use of guns so had no recourse to them.

        Ganhhi was not opposed to guns. He said “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest…if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity.” He was clearly saying ‘Here’s why depriving citizens of arms is wrong and harmful – they can’t defend themselves against tyranny’.

        The Dalai Lama said: “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But as some other body part, such as a leg.”

      2. Steve (CT)

        There were multiple shot firearms invented around that time, though obviously of limited ability. The point was that the populace at large should be trained in the arms necessary to protect themselves & the state. The AR15 style rifle is a near perfect training platform in its design similarity, yet it lacks the fully automatic function of the military version.

        Semiautomatic firearms have been around for over 100 years. If so called ‘assault weapons’ have become such a deadly & dangerous menace, why have all rifles they maintained a steady 2.5-3% of firearm homicides over the last 20 years? Shouldn’t that # be going up since they make up almost half of all rifles sales according to the NSSF?

        In fact, its all fear & hype pushed by gun ignorant politicians & groups.

        1. The Conn-servative

          Many on the anti-gun side have said that the modern day citizen should only be allowed to own what was in effect at the time the Constitution was written. If this is what you believe in ,then surely you wouldn’t have any problem about shutting down the internet,cable tv,and closing down moving theaters and banning video games. All of these of course examples representing the 1st amendment.
          After all,these things weren’t around when the Const. was written. Where else shall we go……..
          Why do the police need fully automatic or 3 round burst weapons? Full auto has no place in our law enforcement arena as it is more erratic than semi-auto.

    2. Repeal the 2nd Billy

      Kim, since you are so quick to refer to the constitution, well it is the same document that found Afro-centric peoples less then full men. We have enacted and repealed an amendment before. So this is not unheard of or unpatriotic.

      You mentioned that I state in my argument the new British laws against gun ownership. I insist that civil societies and developed countries can and should serve as models for each other and since we are the only developed nation on earth awash in armaments and our gun injury and death rate has the highest percentage, then the example should serve as interesting observation.

  3. oldswede

    Read Article 3 of the Constitution. Making war on the government is defined as Treason. Why would the framers then add an amendment to facilitate acts of treason?
    Your argument is invalid, based on lack of rational thinking.

    1. Kim

      oldswede: are you claiming ownership of rational thinking? As long as we have a second amendment, that amendment makes it quite clear that the government cannot infringe on the peoples’ right to keep and bear arms for the security of a free state. If they do, they are in violation of the constitution. The charge of treason would therefore simply be a trumped-up charge worthy of rebelling against.

      Why would the forefathers create such an amendment, if citizens who avail themselves of their rights under that amendment would be guilty of treason?


        1. Kim

          Oldswede: Ya gotta love your idea of rational thinking. If the government rules against the second amendment you want to call citizens who rebel against their ruling, treasonous. This, instead of accusing the government of treason. You make a fine apparatchik, comrade. Right – I’m nuts and you’re rational

          1. Repeal the 2nd Billy

            Kim; I think the Confederacy used the same reasoning as yours.

            You’re disqualified. Next?

          2. Kim

            claiming that you think disqualifies you, repeal.

            I’ve learned the futility of trying to have a reasonable conversation with you in your other personas (wildbill, etc). They always degrade into you realizing your positions are unsustainable so you resort to vicious personal attacks and name-calling, full of your own inflated sense of importance and intelligence, or thinly veiled hints of racism and other nonsense. I’m not going to play this game with you again as it will ruin these blogs for everyone.

            If you want to be at least minimally courteous that’s a different story. But we both know you can’t maintain that type of conversation for long.

          3. Repeal the 2nd billy

            Why Kimmerian Cimmerians, you are showing memory loss. You forgot that we all reached a gentlemanly accord and agreed to a peace treaty. I didn’t lash out at you in my editorial. but don’t expect me to agree with you. I have my opinions and you have yours. BTW, expect major changes in state law on guns. That’s the inside and outside word.

            Why the hostility, my old comrade in arms or, my old armed comrade?

          4. Kim

            my memory is intact, billy. YOU forget that you initiated a so-called gentlemanly agreement then reneged on it within minutes. Your inability to be truthful on this is well documented and clearly remembered, as are your many issues

  4. John

    The 2nd Amendment give you the right to own a gun. It doesn’t give you the right to own any gun you choose or an unlimited number of guns.

    1. Connecticut is dying too

      Imagine if just 1% of the AWB gum-flapping and brainpower was used to figure out how to disarm criminals with illegal handguns. Liberals would have to find another social experiment which would be sad, but think of the lives that would be saved.

    2. Kim

      the second amendment does not impose limitations on weapons of self defense. It does the opposite, in fact, when it says ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’. ‘infringing’ includes the limits you are espousing

    3. Steve (CT)

      Please point out an incident where the owner of a collection of 100 guns & 10,000 rounds of ammunition went out & shot a convenience store clerk in a holdup or even took part in a shooting rampage.

      It doesn’t happen. Non-firearm owners get frightened when they read about collectors with lots of firearms for irrational reasons. A human can only effectively use one firearm at a time.

    4. johngaltwhereru

      Where in the 2nd Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution is the number of guns you can own restricted?

  5. malvi lennon

    Love to see the left leaning media pushing the testimony of one of the parents in favor of gun control. How about the father who testified that guns are not the problem? Was his testimony less valid or less powerful? Is his child less dead or his loss less painful? Or is it because his testimony does not fit the narrative you want to push?
    No, it is not the guns. it is the seriously mentally ill who are afforded the “right” to refuse treatment and whose family cannot intervene because of “privacy”. It is the irresponsible as Nancy Lanza was. She knew her kid was dangerous but kept weapons where was able to gain access to them. I wish she were alive to experience the horror of her stupidity and face prison time. It is a legislature soft on criminals, and a governor whose policies are bankrupting this state making it less likely we will see meaningful improvement in the areas of school security or mental health.

  6. enness

    I am the last person who wants to be a jackass to a grieving father. However, “need” arguments get very much on my nerves. Some people think that because my job in the arts is not always toil and drudgery, and I often rather enjoy it, that I don’t “need” to get paid for it. If arguments regarding rights and limitations were based on “need,” many, MANY people would be stripped of homes and possessions and these would be sold to feed the starving. Anyone feeling guilty yet? Because most of us should.

  7. Repeal the 2nd Billy

    Kimmerian; Come on for just a moment. Snap out of it. How can you make a continued argument for individuals to have guns knowing that these very weapons killed 20 I repeat, 20 six year olds. I was recently in the company of children around 6 years of age. They look so angelic. They are so full of life and innocent. And 20 children looked up at one man welding an assault rifle and felt for one second the sting a a bullet piercing their foreheads. Is not this imagery enough to just think that maybe just maybe you might abandoned this idea of your rights? Are these rights of yours so important that you can live with collateral damage of 20 innocent little angels. I can’t figure the absolute selfish need over the possible normal life spans of these children. Are you that cold blooded? Now do you understand why I am so sarcastic?

    It is so appalling.

    1. Kim

      get over yourself and your feelings, REPEAL, and look at the facts instead of emotions in an attempt to justify eroding our constitution.

      Simple truth. Adam Lanza killed those children. In a gun-free zone where the children were helpless. His mother allowed him access to those weapons. Stop using their deaths to selfishly push your personal agenda onto those who disagree with you. THAT, repeal, is unconscionable and cheesy, and quite disrespectful to the victims.

      If you want to remain helpless in the face of possible personal harm, that is your choice. Choices are in the realm of the free and are up to each individual. Yet you insist that others live (and die) by your personal choices. You make your choices and I don’t stop you. Why do you feel you have the right or the power to make mine for me? Especially when my choice is sensible and protected by the consitituion.

      1. Repeal the 2nd billy

        Because it is not sensible. To wit; you own a gun legally but one day someone breaks into your home while vacant and steals it. Now that gun in in the black market.that is just one of many reasons why this country is out of sync with other developed countries. We have the highest gun death rate.

        These ate facts. But it seems you choose to ignore facts.

        1. Kim

          they are only facts in your mind, billy. You have no knowledge whatsoever of what I own, where and how it or they are stored, or anything else. As always, you make things up to suit your position then pretend that it is the truth. These are facts that you ignore. Other facts you ignore are that people are saved hundreds of times a time from victimhood, because they or someone near them was legally, responsibly armed. But you’ve read and seen this and still willfully ignore this. This is more than mere memory lapse or ignorance of facts, it is simply ignorance in its purest form. These are facts.

  8. Repeal the 2nd Billy

    Kimmerian; Come on for just a moment. Snap out of it. How can you make a continued argument for individuals to have guns knowing that these very weapons killed 20 I repeat, 20 six year olds. I was recently in the company of children around 6 years of age. They look so angelic. They are so full of life and innocent. And 20 children looked up at one man welding an assault rifle and felt for one second the sting a a bullet piercing their foreheads. Is not this imagery enough to just think that maybe just maybe you might abandoned this idea of your rights? Are these rights of yours so important that you can live with collateral damage of 20 innocent little angels. I can’t figure the absolute selfish need over the possible normal life spans of these children. Are you that cold blooded? Now do you understand why I am so sarcastic?

    It is so appalling.

    I spent the evening in an urban community meeting with families of loved ones who were killed by guns. They we’re seeking ways to revive these cold cases. Not one person in that room advocated for gun ownership. On the contrary, they want gun restrictions. Interesting that white men seem so insecure to be obsessed with the idea of owning guns and these African Americans who have lost loved ones want gun reform with restrictions. So much for your twisted logic, yes?

    1. Kim

      I’m not going to respond to your obvious racism based on your very limited experiences and knowledge. You are clearly ignoring the facts about violence by blacks, to blacks, in black neighborhoods while claiming (falsely) that only white men want guns. But at least you’re out of the racist closet now.

      I’ve responded to the rest.

      1. Connecticut is dying too

        Wild Billy, there you go with the emotional liberal argument while leaving logic behind. Anyone who has any empathy at all sees the horror of Newtown.

        But, of course, you liberals try to fix a problem that has caused a few dozon deaths while ignoring that illegal handguns kill THOUSANDS of innocents every YEAR. All because it will make you feel better. Seriously?

        This logic is why we’ve lost the war on poverty. We’ve thrown Trillions at our cities to eradicate poverty and what’s the result? Wait for it…..more poverty.

        Liberalism is a mental disorder. Please get help.

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