HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that he is creating an advisory commission to review and recommend changes to state laws and policies in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Newtown that left 20 first-graders and six staff members dead.
Malloy appointed Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson to chair the panel. An initial report is due to Malloy by March 15, in time for the General Assembly to take action during the new, five-month-long session that begins Jan. 9. State lawmakers are also planning to offer possible law changes as a result of the massacre.
Malloy’s group of about 15 people plans to examine gun laws, school safety measures, gun violence prevention and mental health services.
“The commission will look for ways to make sure that our gun laws are as tight as they need to be, that our mental health system can reach those who are in need of our help and that our law enforcement agencies have the tools that they need to protect public safety, particularly in our schools,” Malloy said. “We don’t yet know the underlying cause behind this tragedy, and we probably never will, not in any way that will make sense of what happened on that day. But that cannot be an excuse for inaction.”
Additional members of the governor’s new commission will be announced later. They will include experts in education, school safety, mental health, law enforcement and emergency response, Malloy said.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman, killed his mother in the Newtown home they shared before blasting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people and ultimately committing suicide as police arrived. The shooting has prompted calls, both nationally and from within Connecticut, to change laws to prevent a similar event from happening again.
Jackson, who served on Malloy’s panel that examined responses from the state and utilities to the remnants of Hurricane Irene and an October 2011 snowstorm, acknowledged that it will be “a massive project” to finish in a short timeframe.
“My son is a first-grader,” Jackson said. “I believe very strongly in this, and I do feel it’s possibly the most important thing I could do right now.”
Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, has said he hopes the General Assembly will put together its own package of law changes early in the legislative session. Various ideas are already being floated, such as prohibiting the sale and possession of any rifle, shotgun or pistol magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. Lanza was carrying multiple 30-round magazines, police have said.
Malloy said he wants to work with legislators to ultimately “make our state a model for the rest of the nation.” But he said changes need to be made on the federal level. He has voiced support for reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, including a ban on clips over 10 rounds.
“It’s far too easy to buy guns in some states and transport them to our state,” he said. “We need Washington to get its act together so they can put together a reasonable national gun policy that protects the citizens of our state and of our nation.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)