On the morning of December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza (―A.L. killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, while she slept in her bed. He then drove to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where in the space of several minutes he killed twenty children and six adult staff members. After killing these persons, and as the police were about to enter the school, A.L. used a pistol to take his own life.
The mass shootings shocked and traumatized the Newtown community, the State of Connecticut, the nation, indeed the entire world.
On January 3, 2013, Governor Daniel P. Malloy announced the formation of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission to review current policy and make specific recommendations concerning public safety, with particular attention paid to school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention. In forming the Commission, Governor Malloy directed it to ―look for ways to make sure our gun laws are as tight as they are reasonable, that our mental health system can reach those that need its help, and that our law enforcement has the tools it needs to protect public safety, particularly in our schools.
Recognizing that the Commission would need significant time to study the relevant issues, hold hearings and propose final recommendations, he nonetheless asked the Commission to submit an initial report, focusing largely on gun-related issues, in time for consideration during the regular session of the General Assembly. The 16-member Commission, chaired by Town of Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, met seven times between January 24 and March 15 and submitted its Interim Report on March 18, 2013. The Interim Report proposed fifteen specific recommendations concerning firearm permitting and registration, the possession, sale and use of high-capacity firearms, high capacity magazines, and ammunition, as well as firearm storage and security. Significantly, the Commission proposed a total ban on the possession, sale or transfer of any firearm capable of firing more than ten rounds without reloading.
In stark contrast to the United States Congress, which was unable to pass meaningful gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted many of the proposals in the Commission‘s Interim Report and passed the most significant gun reform legislation in the nation.
The Commission‘s Interim Report also included recommendations regarding the development of detailed safe school design and operations standards. These recommendations resulted in the creation of the School Security Infrastructure Council, see Public Act 13-3, sec. 80-83, and a state/local working group convened by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection/Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Education. See Public Act 13-3, sec. 86. These bodies initiated the development of safe school design and operation standards, which form the basis of rational and justifiable criteria to guide renovations, expansions and new school construction throughout our state.
Over the next two years, the Commission held twenty-three more hearings and received testimony from 100 experts in the areas of school safety and security, mental health and law enforcement. See Appendix B. Lacking subpoena power, the Commission necessarily relied on several other state agencies to gather, and eventually release, pertinent information about the shootings and A.L. The State‘s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, which had jurisdiction over the Sandy Hook crimes, released a report on November 25, 2013 that summarized the investigatory findings of the State Police. The State Police released its own investigatory files, with extensive redactions, on December 27, 2013. Eleven months later, on November 21, 2014, the Office of the Child Advocate issued a report detailing and examining A.L‘s mental health history and the difficulties his family faced in attempting to meet his needs.
The information the Commission obtained from the reports of other state agencies was essential to formulating the final set of policy prescriptions and legislative recommendations presented in this report. Except as otherwise stated below, this report supersedes the Interim Report. Consistent with Governor Malloy‘s charge, those proscriptions and recommendations fall within three substantive areas: (1) safe school design and operations, (2) law enforcement, public safety and emergency response, and (3) mental health and wellness. The subject-matter experts on the Commission developed a preliminary set of policies and recommendations, which were then submitted to the full Commission for debate, amendment and final approval. Thus, the recommendations set forth herein represent the consensus of the full Commission.
A listing of all of the Commission‘s recommendations is set forth in Appendix A. However, the Commission‘s recommendations are best understood and appreciated when read in the context of the full report. Accordingly, the main body of this report is comprised of three sub-sections, which correspond to substantive areas described in the preceding paragraph. The Table of Contents at the outset of this report is intended to serve as a detailed road map of the Commission‘s findings, analyses and recommendations. For readers viewing this report on the Internet, the Table of Contents contains hyperlinks to the related sections of the report, enhancing the ease of navigating the report. The body of the report also contains many hyperlinks to relevant source materials. Although particular readers, based on their specific backgrounds, may find some parts of the report more or less relevant than others, the three sub-sections of the report form a cohesive whole.