A Democratic presidential candidate made a stop in Newtown on Wednesday. In an event closed to the public, Beto O'Rourke discussed gun violence prevention.
"Having someone like him be the voice for people that can't speak anymore and be the voice for people who have lost loved ones, it just really means the world to me," said Newtown resident Heidi Alvarez.
Alvarez says her sister was at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. While she survived the shooting, Alvarez's favorite teacher, Victoria Soto, did not.
"She was very, very special to me, and I looked up to her all the time. And I had issues when I was little, and she would always come and support me and give me all the love. And she cared so much about me, and I just miss her so much," said Alvarez.
On Wednesday night, members of the Newtown community, local gun control advocates, and O'Rourke talked about gun violence prevention. The former Texas congressman is in favor of universal background checks, red flag laws, and a mandatory buy back of certain semi-automatic weapons.
"I know that the people of this community understand this better than perhaps any other community in this country and not just the devastation and grief and loss but what those solutions are," said O'Rourke.
While the majority at the forum were in favor of gun control legislation, a few were not.
"He's shredding and standing on the Constitution," said Middlebury resident Dr. Walt Kupson.
"They're coming to Newtown, they're standing on the graves of the Newtown children that died here to make a political and financial statement because this has become big business in Newtown," said Newtown resident Rebecca Carnes.
Carnes said the focus should be on mental health. At the forum she yelled at O'Rourke, calling him a liar. After a few minutes she sat down and eventually left.
During the discussion with others in attendance, O'Rourke addressed questions regarding arming teachers, urban gun violence, and gun laws.
The parents of a teen who died in an accidental shooting asked about bringing Ethan's Law, named in his honor, to the national stage.
"Would you consider supporting a safe storage law?" asked Mike Song, Ethan Song's dad.
"The answer is yes. It makes all the sense in the world to do that," said O'Rourke.
O'Rourke also endorses a March for our Lives Peace Plan which calls for a national director of gun violence prevention and declaring a national emergency around gun violence.
"Given that Beto O'Rourke is polling as low as he is, his visit to Connecticut is relatively inconsequential. His lack of willingness to reach out to anyone with with different viewpoints over 2nd Amendment issues indicate that he is not open-minded enough to be president of the United States. This visit is likely more agenda driven to push gun control schemes than anything else." Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in a statement about the visit.