Some came dressed in camouflage and others in suits.
Some wore National Rifle Association hats, casual clothing or bright power ties and sat next to each other, but on starkly different sides of the raging national argument on gun control.
Both groups, totaling about 1,500 people, were frisked upon entering the Capitol complex Monday, then applauded their supporters during daylong hearings on the aftermath of the Newtown massacre.
As members of a General Assembly task force took hours of testimony, Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe joined a dozen local law enforcement executives from throughout the country at the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss gun control.
Under heightened security, including the rare use of metal detectors inside the Legislative Office Building, gun owners warned that they shouldn't have to give up their rights after Adam Lanza killed his mother, then murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
Some warned that gun ownership is a check on governmental tyranny and charged that Obama has an agenda to disarm them and take away rights guaranteed under the state Constitution and the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Others criticized lawmakers for proposing laws before the final report on the Sandy Hook murders. State police chiefs said they want all firearms registered, including rifles that are now exempt. Gun manufacturers warn that thousands of Connecticut jobs are at stake...
...The sometimes boisterous public hearing -- after nearly four hours of testimony from State Police, parents of slain Newtown first-graders and city mayors -- seemed dominated by gun owners, who railed at more than 90 proposed bills.
"The Second Amendment!" was shouted a couple of times by as many as a dozen gun enthusiasts in the meeting room as Neil Heslin, holding a photo of his slain 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, asked why Bushmaster assault-style weapons are allowed to be sold in the state.
"There are a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened," said Heslin, who said he grew up using guns and was undisturbed by the interruption of his testimony.
"That wasn't just a killing, it was a massacre," said Heslin, who recalled dropping off his son at Sandy Hook Elementary school shortly before Lanza opened fire. "I just hope some good can come out of this."
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