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Connecticut gun violence commission to meet Thursday

7:08 AM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut speaks to mourners gathererd inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church at a vigil service for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left at least 27 people dead, many of them young children, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, 14 December 2012. (Photo by ANDREW GOMBERT/AFP/Getty Images)
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(USA TODAY) -- A Connecticut commission looking for recommendations to prevent gun violence and improve school safety and mental health systems will meet for the first time Thursday morning in Hartford - 41 days after a gunman killed 27 people and himself in a shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.

When Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the commission Jan. 3, he said, "Shortly after the initial horror and the immediate grief over what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, there was one question on the lips of many of our residents: How do we make sure this never happens again? ... This commission will 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."

Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III will review the status of the state police investigation of the shootings at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, the governor's office said. Sedensky is the head law enforcement official in the Danbury judicial district, which includes the city of Danbury, Newtown and six other towns.

Former Colorado governor Bill Ritter will discuss how that state reacted to the massacre at Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher in 1999.

Ritter was a Denver district attorney then. He served on the Columbine Review Commission, which recommended ways to improve crisis response, school security and medical treatment for victims.

The Connecticut commission will hear from University of Virginia School of Law professor Richard Bonnie by videoconference. He was a consultant to Gov. Tim Kaine's Virginia Tech Review Panel, which studied the killing of 32 people by a gunman on the campus in 2007. He also chaired the Virginia Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, created after the Virginia Techshootings.

The Virginia Tech Review Panel made more than 70 recommendations, among them ways to improve campus security, emergency response, assistance to victim's families and background checks for all firearms sales in Virginia. It recommended that all states "report information necessary to conduct federal background checks on gun purchases."

Bonnie said Virginia campuses improved security, and the Legislature adopted most measures recommended by the mental health commission.

"We still have a long way to go because of the continuing need to provide resources to mental health systems and schools," Bonnie said.

Malloy has asked the Connecticut commission for an initial report by March 15, in time for consideration by the General Assembly during its regular session.

Members of the commission:

• Chairman Scott Jackson, mayor of Hamden, Conn.

• Adrienne Bentman, director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living.

• Ron Chivinski, a teacher at Newtown Middle School.

• Robert Ducibella, founding principal of DVS Security Consulting and Engineering.

• Terry Edelstein, the governor's liaison to non-profit organizations.

• Kathleen Flaherty, a lawyer who works with the National Alliance for Mental Illness in Connecticut.

• Alice Forrester, executive director of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic.

• Ezra Griffith, professor emeritus and senior research scientist at Yale University's Department of Psychiatry.

• Patricia Keavney-Maruca , a member of the state board of education and a former technical high school teacher.

• Christopher Lyddy, a former state legislator who represented Newtown who is a consultant on stress and trauma.

• Denis McCarthy, Norwalk, Conn., fire chief.

• Barbara O'Connor, University of Connecticut director of public safety. and police chief.

• Wayne Sandford, a professor at the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and former deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security.

• David Schonfeld, the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and a professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics.

• Harold Schwartz, chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

• Bernard Sullivan, former Hartford police chief and former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety.

Gary Stoller, USA TODAY

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