Families of Sandy Hook victims, Newtown Action Alliance speak out against Sanders’ comments

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HARTFORD--Several days ago presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders made waves with his comments about the liability of gun manufacturers for tragedies such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Sanders said he does not think that the families of the victims from the Newtown shooting should be able to sue Bushmaster, the manufacturer of guns used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 first-graders and six school staff.

After his comments, Newtown families and politicians have spoken out, saying his comments are not representative of what Democratic voters want.

Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died in the shooting, is speaking out about Sanders' comments, and on Thursday she was joined by members of the Newtown Action Alliance in a protest outside the presidential candidate's Hartford campaign office.

"I'd really like to know why he thinks that gun manufacturers are the only corporation that should have that type of special protection," Smegielski said. "I think the families do deserve an apology. I think that his response to the tweet and the articles following were despicable at best."

One goal of the Newtown Action Alliance is to get a 2005 law repealed. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act provides legal immunity for gun makers. And that is just another point of contention between the group and Sanders: the Vermont senator voted in favor of the law.

"He's on the side of gun industry right now instead of Sandy Hook families and that's really upsetting to me personally and in the work that I do as a gun violence prevention advocate," said Po Murray, of the Newtown Action Alliance.

A judge is currently deciding if the Sandy Hook victims' families' lawsuit against Bushmaster can move forward.