Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy fought back tears Wednesday as he delivered the State of the State Address and recalled the Newtown school shooting that devastated a tight-knit community last month.
“It won’t surprise you that this speech is very different from the one I first envisioned giving,” Malloy said. “In the early days of December, I began thinking about what I’d like to say. Now, while it’s only been a few short weeks on the calendar, we have all walked a very long and very dark road together. What befell Newtown is not something we thought possible in any of Connecticut’s beautiful small towns or our cities.”
In the aftermath of one of the worst days in the history of the state of Connecticut, Malloy said, he saw the best of his state. He spoke haltingly as he talked about the school staff members who sacrificed their lives protecting students and ran directly into harm’s way to do so.
He commended the State Police, Newtown’s local law enforcement, firemen, others who responded, as well as local officials who worked around-the-clock to bring comfort and stability to Newtown.
Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson were in the chambers during the State of the State.
“You were tested by unimaginable tragedy. Your compassion and your leadership over the past month has been an inspiration to Connecticut and to me personally,” Malloy said.
He commended teachers who put the interest of students first as they return to classrooms.
Then his thoughts went to the 26 families of those killed and of how they have supported the community that has supported them and of the perseverance they have shown in great tragedy.
Speaking before an assembly of people wearing green ribbons to honor Newtown, Malloy talked about the state’s responsibilities in the future.
They will be shaped, in part, by findings of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which is tasked with making specific recommendations about school safety, mental health services and gun violence prevention.
When Malloy spoke of mental health services, he said there must be a balance of respecting individual rights with the obligation to provide for the greater public safety.
When talking about guns, Malloy emphatically stated that more guns are not the answer.
“Let me be very, very clear. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher,” he said, adding that security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.
“That is not who we are in Connecticut, and it is not who we will allow ourselves to become,” Malloy said.