December 27, 2012

Dear Friends,

Earlier this month, a tragedy befell the community of Newtown, Connecticut. I have spent most of these past few weeks in Connecticut and will never forget the sights and sounds of a grieving but strong and resolute, tight-knit community.

I first learned about this incident in the midst of a normal day. As the details mounted, I left Hartford to go to Newtown and to the firehouse in Sandy Hook. I arrived there as a public official but what I saw was through the eyes of a parent. The firehouse in Sandy Hook is where parents went to find out if their children were okay. The way they found out was that their children appeared – or they didn’t. And after a while, some of the children came, some were reunited with their parents there or at the school, and their parents took them home, and, sadly, others did not.

After that day, I was in Newtown many times, attending a local board of education meeting with town, state, and federal officials, participating in church services, funerals, and vigil memorials including one joined by President Obama. I spoke with police, fire and emergency responders and participated in a meeting of Newtown teachers and leaders. I observed acts of kindness and caring, large and small − too numerous to mention − showing remarkable solidarity.

Again and again, people in Newtown and across Connecticut have beseeched me: Please do something about gun violence. Indeed, Newtown has prompted national reflection and a call to action all around America. It is the right time to ask what we can do to prevent future tragedies. I urge all people who share that view – that we need real change to make America safer – to make their voices heard.

I will work to keep faith with the Newtown community and find a solution to this crisis that is rooted in common sense. I will work with the President, and my colleagues in the Senate, regardless of party, and with any organization that is willing to engage in a thoughtful, constructive discussion about the steps we need to take.

Here are some necessary steps:

  • We must do something to effectively ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
  • We need to better prevent mentally ill people and criminals from having access to firearms.
  • We need to close loopholes that enable 40 percent of all gun sales to be made without background checks.
I have also heard from many constituents, asking what can be done and how they can help. At the vigil Sunday night, two of the children came up to me to show me some of the necklaces they had made, with 20 blue beads, each one for the child victims, and six stars for the adults. In the midst of tragedy, I saw this earnest hope from the children of Newtown that the friends and teachers that were senselessly taken from them would never be forgotten.

These is no single, simple solution, but our nation clearly can and must do something to stop the vicious spread of gun violence that victimized 20 young, beautiful children and the professional educators who courageously sought to protect them from this horrific massacre.

Thank you for your support for Newtown – and all of Connecticut – during this difficult time. This is my commitment today. To do something. In fact, to do everything I can as a Senator to prevent the next tragedy. As a former law enforcement official – and as a father – I cannot do less. I know there are some who say that we can never do anything about the problem of gun violence, that we are entrenched as a nation, that we will just continue to wring our hands after every massacre but never take action. And yet sometimes events happen that so horrify our country and our fellow citizens, that they change the nature of the discussion. They change the political ground under us. They are a tectonic shift. And I believe that the massacre of these innocent children and their loving teachers in Newtown is exactly such an event. This is our moment and we are the people to do it. And with your help we can and we will.

And so it is with eyes trained on a better, safer future, my family and I wish you and yours a blessed and peaceful new year.