First it was National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre post-Sandy Hook press conference calling for armed guards at schools. Then it was an NRA ad targeting President Obama’s children. Then the NRA released a shooting videogame for ages four and up. But the latest act by gun extremists is perhaps the most disturbing — Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Newtown victim Jesse, was heckled while giving testimony about new gun laws before a Connecticut legislative committee in the state capital of Hartford.
Some media analysts are questioning the use of the word “heckling” because Heslin, who sat next to a large framed picture of himself with his slain son, asked the audience why anyone in the room would need assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But the question was clearly rhetorical, because audience members are not allowed to comment at a public hearing. So when two people in the audience shouted back about the Second Amendment in violation of this rule, it would seem to be heckling, the definition of which is to “interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.”
Here is a transcript of the part of the testimony that the incident occurred. Click here for the full, unedited video of Heslin’s nearly 16-minute testimony. The exchange happens around the 13:30 mark.
Heslin: “Having a child that you lost. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket, or look at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there is anyone in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips? Not one person can answer that question.”
Heckler 1: “The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.”
Heckler 2: “You cannot infringe on our rights.”
Panel chair: “Please, please, no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking or we will clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”
Heslin: “We’re all entitled to our own opinion, and I respect their opinions and their thoughts. But I wish they’d respect mine and give it a little bit of thought, and realize that it could have been their child that was in that school that day.”
Photo credit: Associated Press/Jessica Hill