Sandy Hook father Neil Heslin calls on Senate to ban assault weapons


Neil Heslin sobbed as he described to the Senate in Washington DC the impact of the death of his 6-year-old son Jesse in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.


Alex Wong

Clutching a large framed photo of his slain son, a highly emotional Neil Heslin called on the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to ban assault weapons and help prevent a repeat of the Newtown shooting. 

“Jesse was the love of my life,” the distraught father told the hearing, ABC News reported.

“I’m not here for the sympathy and the pats on the back. I’m here to speak up for my son.”

Heslin's six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was among 26 children and teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on the morning of December 14.  

During his 11-minutes of testimony, people in the Senate hearing room openly wept, while others dabbed at their eyes, USA Today reported.

Heslin is one of eight witnesses who will be called to give evidence to the gun safety hearing, which is considering a ban on assault weapons, a crackdown on illegal gun trafficking, and enhanced safety in schools.

On Wednesday, Dr. William Begg, an EMS medical director who treated Sandy Hook victims, also testified, crying as he dismissed suggestions that action was not needed because deaths by assault weapons were relatively small.

"Please don't tell that to the people of Tucson, or Aurora, or Columbine, or Virginia Tech and don't tell that to the people of Newtown," he said.

"This is a public health issue. Please make the right decision."

Heslin recalled his last moments with his son when he dropped him off at school and Jesse gave him a hug and a kiss, AP reported.

"That was the last I saw of Jesse as he ducked around the corner. Prior to that when he was getting out of the truck he hugged me and held me and I could still feel that hug and pat on the back and he said everything's going to be ok dad. It's all going to be ok.

"It wasn't ok. I have to go home at night to an empty house without my son."

Heslin described how Jesse died telling other children to run when the first shots were fired. Ten children from his son's class made it to safety.