Today, another Sandy Hook parent advocated for stricter gun laws on behalf of his murdered child. David Wheeler, father of victim Ben Wheeler, spoke Wednesday at the last of four public hearings by the Connecticut legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Violence and Public Safety. In his testimony, Wheeler called for a “comprehensive system of identifying and monitoring individuals in mental distress.”
In Wednesday’s Rewrite segment, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell lamented that “no one from Newtown, Connecticut, testified at today’s Senate hearing, which would never have occurred were it not for the massacre of 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut.”
O’Donnell ceded much of the show to play Wheeler’s testimony, which he said “the Senate Judiciary Committee should have heard today.”
Speaking in front of a 52-member task force, Wheeler decried the inability of agencies to share relevant information about at-risk individuals’ personal histories, mental states, and proximity to firearms. He also advocated a ban on military-style assault weapons, saying they “belong in an armory under lock and key,” and for annual registration of personal firearms.
Finally, Wheeler invoked Thomas Jefferson’s inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. “I do not think the composition of that foundational phrase was an accident,” he said. “I do not think the order of those important words was haphazard or casual. The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life.”