Entries in Connecticut (23)


Connecticut Lawmaker Apologizes for Comment to Teen

ABC News/ ( HAVEN, Conn.) -- A five-time Connecticut state representative issued an apology and was stripped of his leadership post for what some people construed as a lewd remark to a teenage girl.

“If you’re bashful, I got a snake sitting under my desk here,” State Rep. Ernest Hewett can be heard telling a 17-year-old girl during a Feb. 20 committee meeting.

The teenager had just testified in support of more funding for the Connecticut Science Center’s ambassador program.

She had told lawmakers that by participating in the program, which included handling snakes and turtles, she had become more outgoing.

Hewett told ABC News’ New Haven affiliate WTNH-TV that he meant nothing sexual by the comment.

“I have apologized to her for what was taken out of context,” he said.

In a statement, Matt Fleury, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center said he believed the apology was sincere and passed it on to the student, who also accepted it.

Since the incident, Hewett has been removed as deputy speaker of the House, but some Republicans are calling for even stronger action, calling Hewett’s comment a “disgrace and embarrassment.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Tell Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Help Protect Sandy Hook Victims From Fraud

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A trio of lawmakers representing Newtown, Conn., where Sandy Hook Elementary School is located, wrote a letter to Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to complain on behalf of families and victims who say they may have been exploited for their loss by bad actors on the popular social media site.

Since the tragedy Dec. 14, Facebook users have created hundreds of unofficial tribute pages dedicated to the victims of Sandy Hook, including more than 100 tribute pages for first-grade teacher Victoria Soto, who is hailed as a hero for shielding her students as she was gunned down in the shooting in which Adam Lanza allegedly killed 26 students and teachers.

But not all of the people behind some of the tribute pages have good intentions.

The letter, which is signed by Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, asks Zuckerberg to remove Facebook pages cited in complaints submitted by Donna Soto, Victoria’s mother, and Kaitlin Roig, a Sandy Hook teacher who survived the shooting, “for violating the above terms of service.”

“Many give the appearance they were created by loved ones in the names of the victims. Unfortunately, many of these pages have become vehicles for harassment, intimidation and possibly financial fraud,” the trio wrote. “Pages providing platforms for people to violate the privacy of families as they grieve, or seek financial gain through soliciting donations under false pretenses, or generating Facebook ‘likes’ for marketing purposes, should not be given quarter in the Facebook community.”

The lawmakers note that shady tributes violate several of Facebook’s terms of service, such as providing false personal information on Facebook, creating an account for someone else without permission and bullying, intimidation and harassment.

“If you do not believe these pages violate your terms of service, please detail in a written response why,” the letter reads. “If Facebook is already looking into this matter, please detail what you have done thus far to address the take-down requests from Donna Soto and Kaitlin Roig.”

Esty’s office did not immediately provide a copy of the Soto/Roig take-down request, but the congressional offices pledged to work with Facebook to address their constituents’ grievances.

“We recognize that Facebook receives a large volume of reports and requests each day, but this issue deserves and needs priority enforcement of your own well-established policies,” the letter concludes. “We trust you will do the right thing.”

A Facebook spokesperson who asked not to be identified said the company “has been working closely” with families and a foundation representing Sandy Hook victims “to identify, review, and take action” on content posted to Facebook “in line with our terms.” The source said Facebook has also created a “dedicated staff” to address concerns related to the Sandy Hook shooting, and Facebook briefed Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen on its efforts.

“Hours after the tragedy, we reached out to law enforcement to provide assistance. We are continuing to work closely with the families and the foundation representing the victims of Sandy Hook to ensure that we respond as quickly as possible to concerns,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “For the past few months, our rapid response team has acted swiftly to remove inappropriate materials flagged by the foundation and the families. We will continue to be vigilant.”

The spokesperson did not comment directly on the Soto/Roig take-down request.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


PHOTO: Obama Hears of Sandy Hook Shooting

Pete Souza/White House(WASHINGTON) -- A new collection of White House photos includes an image of the moment on Dec. 14 when President Obama heard about details of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

A grim-looking Obama leans on a couch as his Homeland Security adviser tells him of the shooting.

“The President reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,” according to the caption provided by White House photographer Pete Souza.  “The President later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his Presidency.”

Later that day, Obama made televised remarks from the briefing room at the White House.

“The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” the president said of the 26 victims, pausing to collect himself.  “They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

The shooting at Sandy Hook began an ongoing national discussion about gun violence that has led the president to go from largely ignoring the issue to now listing gun control near the top of his second-term agenda.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama: Newtown Shooting ‘Worst Day’ of Presidency

The White House(NEW YORK) -- President Obama said the Newton, Conn., shootings on December 14 were the “worst day” of his time in office.

Recollecting the tragic shooting deaths of 20 first graders and six adults at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the president had been asked how his administration planned to move forward on gun control measures he had suggested in recent weeks. Ultimately, the president said, any coming legislation would be dependent on public approval.

“The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away,” he said. “It certainly won’t feel like that to me. This is something that – you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”

President Obama pledged to put his “full weight” behind additional gun control measures in 2013, repeating his call for a renewal of the assault weapons ban and the closing of the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows private sellers to offer firearms to people without a background check. A CNN poll in July reported 96 percent of Americans supported background checks for all purchases, regardless of origin.

 “I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids,” he continued. “And, yes, it’s going to be hard.”

The president said the White House would put forward “very specific” proposals after a fact-finding task force headed by Vice President Biden concluded.

Host David Gregory also asked the president what he thought of the call from the National Rifle Association to place armed security in every American school, an opinion first voiced by the organization’s president, Wayne LaPierre. Obama stated that while he wouldn’t “prejudge” recommendations, he was hesitant.

“I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools,” he said. “And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Responds to Petitions Calling for End of Gun Violence

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama responded on Friday to a petition on the White House website urging lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws following last week's Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

In a video, Obama acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions asking politicians to "address the epidemic of gun violence in this country."

"We hear you," he said, reiterating that he has asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a team in developing specific proposals by January to reduce gun violence.

The president noted that "most gun owners in America are responsible."

"Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms," he said.

"Here's what I think we should do," Obama continued.  "This week I called on Congress to take up and pass common-sense legislation that has the support of the majority of the American people, including banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and making sure criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to get their hands on a gun."

He stressed the need to address a culture that "glorifies" violence and improve mental health services, and urged people to call on their members of Congress "as many times as it takes" to achieve a result.

"I'm asking for your help to make a real meaningful difference in the lives of our communities and our country, and make sure the United States of America is a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow," Obama concluded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Taps Biden for Post-Newtown Action Plan

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with coordinating the administration’s response to the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last week.

Biden will oversee the formulation of new policies aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing mass shootings like the one that took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, administration officials said.

Obama is expected to formally announce the Biden-led process at the White House late Wednesday morning.

The president, who vowed “meaningful action” in the wake of last Friday’s tragedy, has faced intensifying pressure to publicly lay out his plans.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that Obama is now “actively supportive” of new legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would reinstate the ban on certain types of semi-automatic weapons, and said the president may support other efforts, such as a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines.

“[The president] supports -- and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole, and there are other elements of gun law -- gun legislation that he could support,” Carney said. 

“People have talked about high-capacity ammunition clips, for example, and that is something, certainly, that he would be interested in looking at,” he added.

Administration officials say Obama is also interested in new ways of addressing cultural and mental health factors in gun violence.

Obama met privately on Monday with Biden and three members of his Cabinet -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- to discuss steps forward in the aftermath of Newtown.

The administration has set a target of “a few weeks or a few months” for presenting those plans, while offering few additional specifics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pro-Gun Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin Suggests New Gun Laws

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has been as pro-gun, pro-NRA as anybody in Congress.  During his 2010 re-election campaign, he famously demonstrated his opposition to the cap-and-trade bill by shooting the bill (literally) with a rifle.

Now, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, Manchin says it is time to re-think gun control.  As he said Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe, “I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting…”

On Twitter, Manchin endorsed a proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman to create a national commission on gun violence.  But he said there must be action as an end result.

President Obama has not yet specifically advocated new legislation to curb gun violence.  But speaking before the grieving families of Sandy Brook Elementary School in Connecticut Sunday night, he asked if the nation can say it is doing enough to protect its children.

“If we’re honest with ourselves the answer is no,” he answered. “We’ve not been doing enough.  And we will have to change.”

Obama has not made gun legislation a priority of his administration, although he supports renewing the assault weapons ban, which was in effect from 1994 until 2004.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama: Nation Faces 'Hard Questions' After Connecticut Shooting

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- President Obama said at an interfaith prayer service in the grieving community of Newtown, Conn., Sunday evening that the country is “left with some hard questions” if it is to curb a rising trend in gun violence, such as the shooting spree last Friday at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

After consoling victims’ families in classrooms at Newtown High School, the president said he would do everything in his power to “engage” a dialogue with Americans, including law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them we must change.”

The president was not specific about what he thought would be necessary and did not even use the word “gun” in his remarks, but his speech was widely perceived as a prelude to a call for more regulations and restrictions on the availability of firearms.

The grieving small town hosted the memorial service Sunday evening as the the nation pieces together the circumstances that led to a gunman taking 26 lives last Friday at the community’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside your body all of the time, walking around,” Obama said, speaking of the joys and fears of raising children.

“So it comes as a shock at a certain point when you realize no matter how much you love these kids you can’t do it by yourself,” he continued.  “That this job of protecting kids and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, with the help of a community, and the help of a nation.”

The president asked whether holistically, the country could ask itself whether it was doing everything it could to meet its obligations in protecting all children.

“I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days and if we’re honest with ourselves the answer is no,” he answered.  “We’ve not been doing enough.  And we will have to change.”

Assuming a consoling role has become all too familiar for this presidency, which has born witness to five mass killings since assuming office in 2009.  It was a trend Obama acknowledged in his remarks, hinting as he has done recently that his administration may pursue strengthening gun control laws as a response.

“Are we really prepared to say that such violence brought on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” he asked.

The president’s grim, direct tone came in the latter half of his appearance in the filled auditorium, after taking the first minutes to recite scripture and remember those lost when Adam Lanza broke into the elementary school with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns, opening fire before committing suicide.

“Scripture tells us, do not lose heart,” Obama said.  “Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweigh them all.”

Faculty, staff and some students of Newtown wore ribbons of green and white -- the town and school colors -- emblazoned with a small angel in the middle, in remembrance of the victims.  Several first responders were also seen sporting the symbol.

“I am very mindful that mere words cannot reach the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.  I can only hope it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief,” Obama continued.  “That our world too has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight.”

Audible weeping broke out from children and adults alike as the president cited the names of faculty members who died in the attack, some protecting the children in their custody.

“They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances: with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care,” he said.

The president ended his remarks in prayer.

“We pray, Lord, for all of those so torn by grief.  In this moment, we are all your children.  A family related by your love.  Help us care for the families in sorrow.  May they feel embraced by the neighborhood, town, state, nation, world,” he said.  “Help us to forever remember we embrace the grieving as our own.”

The Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.  It is surpassed only by the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting with 33 shot and killed, including the shooter.

The memorial service had been delayed nearly an hour as Obama met privately with first responders and families of the victims in classrooms of the high school.

The president walked in shortly before 8 p.m., gave a brief wave to the room full of parents, friends and neighbors, before taking a seat in the first row.  He was met with a standing ovation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Connecticut School Shooting Sparks Assault Weapons Ban Talk

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has opened the subject of gun control and the Second Amendment in the United States.

That debate took center stage on Sunday, when California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she intends to introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the next Congress.

"The purpose of this bill is to get ... weapons of war off the streets," the longtime Democratic senator said on NBC's Meet The Press.

President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban into law in 1994, but the measure expired in 2004.  Feinstein also called for the ban to be renewed in July, after the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman went a step further, suggesting there should be "a national commission on mass violence," following Friday's shooting in his home state.

Lieberman said this commission would investigate the questions being asked about Newtown and come up with ways to try and prevent it from happening again.

"It's time for Democrats, Republicans and independents to say ... the strongest conceivable gun control laws won't stop all acts of violence.  But, also, to acknowledge that the stronger our gun control laws are, the fewer acts of violence including mass violence that will happen in our society," Lieberman said today on Fox News Sunday.

Lieberman, an independent, spoke out in favor of reinstating the assault weapons ban, but also talked about "toning down" the violence that he said dominates our entertainment industry.

"The violence in the entertainment culture, particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games and movies now, does cause vulnerable young men, particularly, to be more violent," he said.

Following the Connecticut shooting, it has been reported that the shooter, 20-year old Adam Lanza, was an avid player of violent video games that involved shooting guns.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz agreed that violence found in games and movies is something that needs to be addressed.  But in terms of gun regulation following the Newtown shooting, Chaffetz called current gun rules "stringent" and said "there are prohibitions on lots of guns."

"I'm a conceal carry permit-holder.  I own a Glock 23.  I've got a shotgun.  I'm not the person you need to worry about," Chaffetz said on ABC's This Week.  "But we have to look at the mental health access that these people have."

Chaffetz added that it will take more than government solutions to prevent a shooting like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School from happening again.

In an address following the deadly shooting, President Obama seemed ready to take on the issue of gun control in his second term.

"As a country we have been through this too many times," he said.  "Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theatre in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children."

The statement is a subtle but marked shift for Obama, who has not made gun control a priority during his presidency in spite of at least five major mass shootings that have occurred on his watch -- Binghamton, N.Y. (2009); Fort Hood, Texas (2009); Tucson, Ariz. (2011); Aurora, Colo. (2012); and Oak Creek, Wis. (2012).

As far as the assault weapons ban Feinstein plans to introduce early next year, she said she expected Obama to offer public support for the law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Politicians Call Connecticut Shooting ‘Senseless,’ Some Urge Gun Restrictions

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Politicians on Twitter and in written statements reacted with horror to the school shooting that left 27 people dead, including 18 children, in Newtown, Conn., Friday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was “shocked and saddened” by the tragic shooting. He also said society should “unify” to “crack down on the guns.”

“During times of such unthinkable tragedy, all New Yorkers stand together with the people of our neighboring state to grieve the loss of life and help bear the pain and anguish that will be felt by so many in the weeks, months, and years to come,” Gov. Cuomo wrote in a statement. “While we don’t have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns. We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., also called immediately for tougher gun laws. He said he was “absolutely horrified” by news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Yet another unstable person has gotten access to firearms and committed an unspeakable crime against innocent children.  We cannot simply accept this as a routine product of modern American life,” Congressman Nadler said in a statement.

Nadler reacted to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney‘s assertion that Friday -- on the same day as the tragedy -- is not the day to discuss gun control policy. Carney was asked if Friday’s shooting makes “limiting handgun violence or other gun violence” a higher priority for the president.

“There is, I’m sure — will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

“If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is.  How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through?  I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this.”

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell related Friday’s events to the shooting that took the lives of 32 people at a university in his state.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted by the events transpiring today, and to the teachers, emergency responders, and all others touched by this tragedy. Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day,” Gov. McDonnell wrote in a statement. “We are all too aware of the impact that events like this can have on a community. If there is anything Virginia can do to assist Governor Malloy and the citizens of Connecticut, we stand ready to do so.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado where the Columbine High School shooting took 13 lives, also offered his condolences.

“The shooting in Connecticut is absolutely horrific and heartbreaking,” the Colorado governor wrote in a statement. “We know too well what impact this kind of violence has on a community and our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are immediately with the families of those killed. We can offer comfort, but we all know the pain will stay forever.”

More than 70 members of the House of Representatives used Twitter to express their sadness over the violence in Connecticut.

Rep. Joe Courtney, R-Ct., tweeted his reaction.

@RepJoeCourtney: #Newtown shooting is an horrific, senseless tragedy. Thoughts and prayers for victims, families, and the Sandy Hook Elementary community.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted the nation will support Newtown in the weeks to come in her statement.

@NancyPelosi: "No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook. We share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio