Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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Though many memories fade with time, how could Neil Heslin forget the tragedy of December 14, when his 6-year-old son and 19 other classmates were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
It was the killing of those 20 students and six adults in their classrooms by a well-armed gunman who also killed his mother and himself that shocked the nation, and led President Barack Obama to call for a ban on assault weapons, outlawing high-capacity gun magazines and background checks on all gun sales, among other measures. Others feel such legislation would run afoul of the Second Amendment.
“I’m in favor of the Second Amendment,” Heslin said, but the restrictions he supports are “about weapons of war that don’t belong on the streets, they don’t belong in our schools."
“It’s just absurd that a weapon of that nature was brought into an elementary school and killed 20 young children and six educators, my son being one of them. It’s something no parent should have to go through,” he said.
Heslin spoke on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” shortly after a White House meeting with Obama and others with a connection to gun violence.
With the families in the room, Obama spoke to the cameras and urged lawmakers to vote on – and pass – proposals that he and others have put forward.
“Tears aren't enough. Expressions of sympathy aren't enough. Speeches aren't enough,” he said.
"Shame on us," Obama said, if the Sandy Hook tragedy does not inspire changes. "We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn't just a bunch of platitudes, that we meant it."
Heslin said the president assured him in their meeting “that he’s still committed to pushing through change, and stronger gun regulations, and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and background checks.”
But many of those proposals are considered unlikely to survive Congress and land on the president’s desk. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said he and two other senators plan to filibuster the background check and gun trafficking legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the body will consider next month.
Heslin said he wants people around the country “to stand up and tell their congressman what to do, and what changes need to happen."
“Push for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and background checks,” he said. “Mental health is a big issue. It’s a complicated issue. I think better school safety definitely needs to be addressed.”
Schools, he said, “have the most precious thing in the world, our children.”
His child “loved everything about life,” including school, his teacher, who was also killed, and animals. “His main goal was to have fun and enjoy life,” Heslin said.
He added, “I thought Sandy Hook Elementary was a secure school by standards. You had to be buzzed in. Who would ever think that somebody would shoot their way into an elementary school. I never thought it would happen in Sandy Hook. I couldn’t even being to imagine it.”