Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Releases Draft Report

The draft of the final Sandy Hook Advisory Commission report was released to the public Thursday morning.

The commission will vote on the 256-page report, which addresses school safety, comprehensive gun reform and mental health policies in the state, among other recommendations.

The commission's mission has been to change policies and laws in an effort to prevent another violent massacre like the one on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that took the lives of 20 first graders and six staff members.

In addressing school safety, the commission said Connecticut schools should be as safe as possible without feeling like prisons and pointed out that several of the commission's 22 recommendations have already been implemented by law.

The second part of the report examines law enforcement, honing in on firearms, including gun and ammunition control.  

The third part of the report focuses on mental health and notes that 3 to 5 percent of all violence committed in the United States is attributable to people with mental illness.

The report reviews the current system, addresses access to quality mental health care and suggests steps schools and communities can take to properly equip residents who are dealing with trauma and loss.

It also addresses ways to remove the stigma of mental health and encourage those affected to seek proper care.

Following are some of the recommendations included in the report:

School Safety

  • Schools are urged to adopt a safety plan and put together a safety committee including police, first responders, teachers, administrators and custodians.
  • Doors should be equipped with locks from the inside. There is no documented case of an active shooter breaching a locked classroom door.
  • Exterior doors in K-12 schools should be equipped with hardware capable of full perimeter lockdown.
  • Custodians should be included as members of school security and safety committees because they have a wealth of knowledge about the building and grounds.
  • Local committees are urged to report to the state on school security status once per year.
  • Safety and security training should be implemented for all faculty and staff.
  • Classrooms and other spaces of denser occupancy should be located away from building entry points.

Law Enforcement

  • Mandatory background checks should be run prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, in private sales and gun shows. (This recommendation has already been adopted.)
  • Registration should be required, including a certificate of registration, for every firearm, and should be issued after completion of a background check. This is separate from a permit to carry a firearm. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Firearms permits must be renewed on a regular basis. The renewal process should include a firearms handling test as well as a test on applicable laws and regulations. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Ammunition purchases should be allowed only for registered firearms. (This has not been adopted because there is no gun registration law yet.)
  • Limit the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at any given time. The commission does not spell out the recommended amount. (This has not been adopted.)
  • Limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds. (This has been adopted.) 

Mental Health

  • Expand and increase availability of early intervention community treatment programs.
  • Implement multidisciplinary risk assessment teams in schools.
  • Build systems of care that go beyond treating mental illness and foster healthy individuals.
  • Identify risk factors and reinforce protective factors.
  • Schools should play a crucial role in fostering healthy children.
  • Social-emotional learning in schools should help childen identify and name feelings, including frustration, anger and loneliness, that can contribute to disruptive and self-destructive behavior.
  • Implement a social development curriculum that includes anti-bullying strategies.
  • Develop state and federal Department of Education programs to supplement the state Department of Children and Families.  
  • Implement higher reimbursement rates for care.
  • Increase the behavioral health care workforce.

Part of the report that reviews the events of Dec. 14, 2012 and the moments leading up to it explains that the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, took a trip to New Hampshire from Dec. 11-13, in part to have a break from the challenges of parenting Adam Lanza and to experiment with leaving her son along for long periods of time.

The next morning, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother with a rifle, left it by her bed, then carried out the elementary school massacre before shooting and killing himself.

A statement from Gov. Dannel Malloy's office said the commission will make modifications before voting to approve change at its final working meeting Friday.

The commission will present the final report to the governor and its last ever meeting, the date of which has not been set, according to the governor's office.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty released the following statement in response to the report Thursday:

"Two years ago, after the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, families across the nation stood united in demanding action so that not one more community would have to suffer such senseless heartache, fear, and loss. Since then, there have been more than 100 additional school shootings, and Congress has yet to act on commonsense measures, supported by the vast majority of Americans that would help stem this national crisis. We will continue to fight for these commonsense measures that would deprive murderers of the key means of massacre, provide law enforcement the additional tools they have sought to enforce the laws on the books, strengthen school security, and fix our broken mental health system. We thank Governor Malloy and the legislature for steps already taken to save lives in our state and thank the Commission for its diligent and dedicated service—a difficult, and heart-wrenching task that should give Congress a roadmap for tackling public safety reforms that a majority of Americans and Connecticut residents need and demand."

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