BERLIN - The morning after 17 deaths and many injuries occurred as a result of a shooting at a Florida high school, Gov. Dannel Malloy cited the event as a “preventable tragedy,” Thursday.
“I think what I said the day after the shooting at Sandy Hook is that these types of shootings are coming to your community and we shouldn’t be shocked,” said Malloy at Eversource Headquarters in Berlin, prior to speaking at a conference there. “This is a tremendous tragedy, a preventable tragedy.”
Nikolas Cruz, 19, legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle he used in the assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Authorities said Cruz had been kicked out of the school, which has about 3,000 students.
Students who knew the shooter, identified as Nikolas Cruz, described a teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him, particularly after the fight that led to his expulsion.
As the criminal case against the suspect took shape, the leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida said Cruz was a member of his group and participated in exercises in Tallahassee.
“But first and foremost our hearts go out to the individuals who lost their lives and their families,” he said. “This is is entirely predictable.”
Malloy implored the implementation of universal background checks and efforts to separate people who are mentally ill from weapons, including a ban on weapons of mass destruction.
“If you’re listening from another state, call your state senators, and united states senators and congressmen to get them to get their job, which clearly they refuse to do,” he said.
Malloy then referenced the efforts Connecticut has made to address such issues.
In response to the shooting which took the life of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the state passed stricter gun regulation.
Those regulations included adding more than 100 firearms to that state’s assault weapons ban, created what officials called the nation’s first dangerous weapon offender registry and eligibility rules for buying ammunition.
“Since we changed our gun laws, Connecticut’s violent crime has declined more than any other state in the nation over a four year period of time,” Malloy said. “Those two things are connected.
“I think what is failing us is our president, our United States senate, our united state house of representative and state governments who haven’t embraced the changes that are necessary to keep those very same schoolchildren, or church goers or movie fans safe,” he added.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow family members or law enforcement officials to ask a court to remove guns from a person who poses a danger.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP lawmakers this week.
Malloy said he hadn’t spoken with Florida officials as of Thursday morning but said he had plans to.
“Unfortunately they’ve had experience in this,” said Malloy, in reference to the shooting at an Orlando nightclub in which 49 died.
Reports from the Associated Press were included in this story.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.