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Calif. Firefighters "Get a Handle" on Fire That Threatened 100 Homes


Firefighters worked overnight to "get a handle" on a 170-acre wildfire that began on a hillside in the southern California community of Fillmore and burned two homes amid strong wind gusts.

The fire started before 5 p.m. and prompted a 400-firefighter response overnight that threatened about 100 homes and prompted evacuations. Containment was at 80 percent early Tuesday and the evacuation order was lifted.

Calm winds and temperatures in the 50s were reported early Tuesday in Fillmore.

"We've had a good night," said Capt. Mike Lindbery, of the Ventura County Fire Department. "It has given us a chance to get in there and get a handle on this thing."

"It burned with high intensity and a lot of energy. We had a few things work for us, and we were able to reduce the losses."

Part of what Lindbery described as "a very large house" was saved after firefighters entered the burning structure. He estimated that about 50 percent of the home burned.

"We had some firefighters get in there and make a very aggressive interior attack," said Lindberg.

"A couple years back we had some pretty bad fires, but nothing that came close to homes like this," said Fillmore Mayor Pro Tem Manuel Minjares. "This is pretty significant."

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Man with BB Gun Arrested Near Obama's Motorcade Route: Cops


A homeless man was taken into custody Monday afternoon when he was found with a BB gun near the route President Barack Obama's motorcade was taking, according to police in Connecticut.

Police said Tuesday that Joseph Stravinskas, 27, was shooting at cans behind a house about half an hour before the presidential motorcade came by.

Obama was in Connecticut to deliver an  address at the University of Hartford that called on Congress to bring new gun control propoals to a vote. 

Police had originally said that a man had been standing at an intersection where President Obama's motorcade passed by and was arrested after pulling out the BB gun.

But on Tuesday, police clarified details of the incident, saying that Stravinskas had no connection to the motorcade.

Police from several departments were securing the motorcade route when a Simsbury detective heard a noise at 5:50 p.m. from the back of a home a few miles away from the university, and went to see if someone was hiding in the woods, police said.

The detective found Stravinskas with what appeared to be a rifle, aiming at cans propped as targets and ordered him to drop the weapon, police said.

When Stravinskas turned, he dropped his aim, and ultimately complied with police orders and was taken into custody.

Police seized the gun and determined it was a pellet rifle, police said.

Stravinskas told police he was homeless and his actions had nothing to do with the presidential motorcade.

Secret Service also spoke with Stravinskas and officials determined that his actions had nothing to do with the motorcade, which came by at 6:20 p.m. without incident.

Stravinskas was charged with breach of peace in the second degree, threatening in the second degree and interfering with an officer.

He was held on a $15,000 bond and is due in court on Tuesday. 

President Obama was in Connecticut Monday afternoon to meet with families who lost loved ones during the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Obama Leaves Connecticut With“Team Vicki Soto" Shirts


When President Barack Obama came to Connecticut to make a national push for federal gun control legislation, he met privately with 11 relatives of victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and left with a reminder of one teacher who died trying to protect her young students.

When Obama came off Air Force One, he was carrying a red paper bag and White House officials said it contained T-shirts from Vicki Soto’s sister Jillian, White House officials said. 

Vicki Soto, 27, of Stratford, was a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

A memorial fund has been set up in her honor.

If you would like to make a donation, may make checks payable to the Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund for Education and mail the check to:

The Victoria Soto Memorial Fund 
P.O Box 411
Stratford, CT 06615

Or, make a donation at the Official Victoria L. Soto Website www.vickisotomemorial.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Louisville Takes NCAA Title in Thriller


The Louisville Cardinals entered the NCAA Tournament as the best team in the country and they're exiting it the same way.

Louisville came back from 12 points down in the first half and became NCAA men's basketball champions for the third time in school history in a thrilling 82-76 win over Michigan on Monday night in Atlanta.

"This team is one of the most together, toughest and hard-nosed teams," coach Rick Pitino said. "Being down never bothers us. They just come back."

The victory capped a memorable day for Pitino, who promised his team he would get a tattoo if they won the championship. Pitino found out earlier on Monday that he will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and then doubled down on the honor by becoming the first coach ever to win national titles at two different schools.

Louisville guard Michael Ware, whose right leg snapped in a freak injury during the regional final, cheered on Monday's game from the sidelines with his leg propped up on a chair. After the win, he took to the court on crutches to celebrate -- and cut a strand from the game's basketball net to mark the achievement.

"These are my brothers," Ware said. "They got the job done. I'm so proud of them."

The milestone win did not come easily. The Cardinals went down 12 points in the first half thanks to one of the more unexpected twists in any title game.

Michigan guard Trey Burke, who won every national player of the year award, left the game with two fouls and the Wolverines turned to little-used freshman Spike Albrecht for most of the first half. Albrecht, who averaged 1.8 points per game this season, hit all four threes he tried and scored 17 points to turn the game on its ear.

Luke Hancock turned it right back. Hancock hit four straight threes to close out the first half and Louisville trailed by just one point heading into the break. After the break, the game was a seesaw affair that ultimately turned thanks to Peyton Siva and the Cardinals' work on the boards.

Siva scored 14 of his 18 points after the break and was a relentless source of pressure for a defense that rattled the normally unflappable Wolverine offense. And the Cardinals had an 11-1 edge on the offensive glass, resulting in second chance point after second chance point.

None of those was bigger than a Chane Behanan putback with 1:52 to play to put the Cardinals up by eight points. Behanan took the ball back up through several Michigan defenders and put in the hoop to deflate one of Michigan's many attempts to grab control of the game.

You can find flaws with how the Wolverines played in the second half, especially some foul management in the final minute that coach John Beilein came about because he thought the team was already in the bonus when they were one foul short. But Burke was spectacular, scoring 17 points and making a block after running down Siva that was called a foul in the most egregious of the many questionable calls by an officiating crew that was not up to the championship stage.

As good as Michigan was, though, Louisville was simply better. They took some big shots from Michigan and walked through them like the experienced tournament team that they are.

Siva, Hancock (who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player), Behanan and Gorgui Dieng all had huge moments in the second half while the younger Michigan team wilted under the pressure of the situation. The Cardinals, who rallied from 12 down against Witchita State as well, proved their mettle on Monday night and made it clear how deserving they are of the title as the best team in college basketball.

All in all, it makes for a day that Rick Pitino won't soon forget.

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: AP

Newtown High, and Pomperaug to Play Game to Remember


The Newtown and Pomperaug High School Varsity Baseball teams have been championship rivals for the past few years, and this year they are bringing their competition to another level, making it an event and calling it “A Game to Remember.”

Their regular-season scheduled game this spring will be played as a tribute to honor those whose lives were taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown this past December, as well as the first responders who entered the building and stayed with the families throughout the day.

Pomperaug coach Mike Eisenbach, a Newtown native, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School himself and that is just one of the many reasons that he called Newtown coach Matt Memoli to propose the idea.

The two coaches agreed to use a field in Bridgeport, which the Bridgeport Bluefish have approved to cover the cost if more than 1,000 spectators attend.

“Our teams want to give something back to the people of Newtown and remember the many men and women who worked tirelessly that day,” Eisenbach said. We hope the weather is good and many families from throughout Connecticut, including locally, come for a great night of baseball.”

The game will be played in Bridgeport at the Harbor Yard on April 25 at 6 p.m.

In lieu of an admission fee, cash and check donations will be accepted on behalf of the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 Cars Destroyed in Derby Crash


Derby police responded to a crash this morning that appears to have destroyed two vehicles.

The crash happened on Academy Hill Road in Derby on Tuesday morning, and one car flipped over, but little additional information is yet available.

Nick Sprague submitted this photo.


Photo Credit: Nick Sprague

Budget Woes Ground Blue Angels


The Blue Angels' wings have been pinned to the ground this year due to budget concerns.

NBC News has learned all of the performances of the U.S. Navy’s elite flight demo squad for the rest of the year have been cancelled because of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

The Blue Angels will continue to train in Pensacola, Fla.

Cancelling the shows is expected to save the Navy $20 million, though of course the military - and civilian vendors - lose out on revenue from food and other sales to attendees.

Organizers of the Andrews Air Show, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland's Prince George's County, said last year that it would be held every other year due to budget concerns. The next show is scheduled for 2014.

In San Francisco, an event on Fleet Week in October will go on despite losing the Blue Angels, which has been its biggest draw, NBC Bay Area reported

Other air shows across the country have been cancelled, and the military no longer will perform flyovers at baseball games or many other major events.

The Air Force's Thunderbirds entire 2013 season also was cancelled in March. And the Air Force said they would not show off planes at trade shows, flyovers and open houses.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Malloy Announces Plan to Reduce Insurance Denials for Mental Health Services


The Connecticut Insurance Department and the UConn Health Center are collaborating to help families struggling to get mental health treatment paid through their insurance, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy.

Malloy said the department and the health center are developing a “user-friendly ‘claims tool kit’” for policyholders and providers, including out-of-network providers who operate on cash basis.

The goal, according to a news release from Malloy’s office, is to reduce the number of insurance denials.

“No one should have to overcome mountains of red tape when they are trying to access mental health services,” Malloy said. “This collaboration allows us to leverage the respective expertise of the Insurance Department and the UConn Health Center to put in place a common-sense approach to what can be a profoundly frustrating process. I commend the Insurance Department and the Health Center for their commitment to improving mental health care access for residents.”

Access to mental health services is part of the governor’s multi-prong plan to reduce gun violence in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December. 

“It’s been the Department’s observations that incomplete or incorrect information, coding errors, and other documentation issues are often the cause of claims denials requiring multiple appeals. We don’t want families having to fight to get the care they need,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling, who oversees the Department’s health insurance initiatives, said.

Malloy said the claims tool kit, which should be complete this summer, is the first in a series of behavioral health projects the Insurance Department and Health Center are undertaking to assist consumers and providers.

Photo Credit: Gunnar Pippel

Bill Clinton Sends His First Tweet


Former President Bill Clinton sent out his first tweet over the weekend with a little help from Stephen Colbert.

The talk show host helped Clinton set up his Twitter account on Monday's "Colbert Report" after he revealed that the former president has never sent a tweet.

Colbert set up the handle @PrezBillyJeff, since @PresidentClinton was already taken, and helped Clinton type his first tweet:

Colbert also helped the ex-president set up his account profile, which reads "I am President William Jefferson Billy Jeff Rodham Clinton. Stephen Colbert is my BFF."

Monday's show was a special broadcast of the annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting that was held over the weekend. The two talked mostly about Clinton's political career, but when they discussed social media, the ex-president admitted that he was a little insecure about Twitter.

"What if you tweet and nobody tweets back?" Clinton asked. "There is nothing worse than a friendless tweeter, right?"

But he may not have to worry about that. As of Tuesday afternoon, @PrezBillyJeff has over 55,000 followers and his first tweet was retweeted over 3,500 times.

Photo Credit: AP

AG Seeks CL&P Penalties Over Storm Costs


Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has asked state regulators to penalize the state's largest utility, which is seeking $414 million in higher rates from customers to pay for damage caused by five storms.

Jepsen accused Connecticut Light & Power on Tuesday of impeding efforts by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to fully investigate power restoration after the October 2011 nor'easter that left hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity for as long as 11 days. His request does not specify how much the utility should be penalized.

“As the restoration from the October Nor’easter proceeded, CL&P committed to the Governor, municipal officials and its customers that it would restore 99 percent of all homes and businesses in each town it served by midnight on Nov. 6,” Jepsen said in a statement. “The documents produced are relevant to whether the Nov. 6 restoration projection was reasonable and whether CL&P knew that estimate was attainable.”
Jepsen said CL&P failed to disclose documents in a timely manner that showed it was unable to keep a promise to restore power to 99 percent of its customers by a particular date.

CL&P issued a written statement:

"Connecticut has a thorough regulatory process and the Attorney General's filing is part of that, however, we disagree with his position. All of the information in the AG's filing refers to the 2011 storms, which CL&P voluntarily provided to his office. We will address these claims during the course of this proceeding.  It is important to note that CL&P worked tirelessly with PURA during its investigation into the 2011 storms while at the same time implementing recommended changes.  We believe we have strengthened our storm response since then and remain committed to responding safely and quickly to future storms."

The entire Jepsen petition to PURA is posted online.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Circus Elephant Hurt in Drive-By Shooting


An endangered Asian elephant traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was injured Tuesday morning in a drive-by shooting in northern Mississippi, according to local news reports.

The elephant was outside BancorpSouth Arena, where the circus will be performing later this week, when it was struck in the shoulder by a bullet, the Clarion Ledger reported.

"Leads are pretty slim," Tulepo, Miss. Police Captain Rusty Haynes told the Ledger. "We're dealing with a victim that can't talk."

The police department told the paper that it is investigating and has been in touch with state and federal wildlife authorities.

Meanwhile, the elephant was treated by circus staff and a local veterinarian, who were able to calm the giant animal. The arena's marketing director Kevan Kirpatrick told the Ledger that within 20 minutes, the elephant was walking around eating carrots.

The shooting, he said, was a big first.

"We have had the circus once a year since 1995," Kirkpatrick said. "Absolutely this is the first elephant shooting we had."

Haynes, the police captain, told the Ledger that the crime will be pursued as a federal offense since the elephant is an endangered breed, and the federal government may provide reward money for information that could lead to the shooter.

Ringling Bros. told the paper that it would issue a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Today's Temp Sets New Record


Temperatures are at a record high today after a chilly start to April.

The mercury reached 81 degrees at Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport, breaking the record for the day of 79 degrees set in 1991, according to NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan.

The record of 85 degrees at Bradley Airport set in 1991 still has not been broken.

Send your warm weather photos to photos@nbcconnecticut.com.

Photo Credit: Submitted

Fire Causes Heavy Damage in Milford


A firefighter was taken to the hospital while responding to a fire that appears to have caused heavy damage to a house in Milford.

The fire at 35 Centennial Drive was reported around 11 a.m.

WPLR radio posted on its Web site that Chaz, a popular DJ with of Chaz and A.J., saved a dog from the burning home.

Fire officials said a neighbor rescued the dog, but did not confirm the name of the neighbor.

The fire appears to have started in the garage area.

When firefighters arrived, there was already heavy smoke.

The firefighter who required medical assistance is OK, officials said.

The family was not at home at the time the fire started.

The fire marshal will rule on the exact cause of the fire.

Chaz and AJ posted video of the fire on their Facebook site.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

I-95 North in Stratford Reopens After Crash


Interstate 95 North was closed at exit 32 in Stratford for several hours on Tuesday after a multivehicle crash and a fuel spill.

Officials said around 100 gallons of fuel spilled from saddle tanks in the crash around 2 p.m.

No injuries were reported, but there were significant traffic delays on both sides of the highway through rush hour.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to the crash scene to help deal with the fuel spill.

The highway reopened around 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: Connecticut DOT Traffic cameras

Nat'l Spelling Bee Adds Vocab Questions


For the first time in 86 years, contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be asked a question their predecessors have never faced: What does it mean?

Bee organizers announced Tuesday the addition of a vocabulary evaluation, which will count for 50 percent of a speller's overall score and impact who will advance to the semifinal and championship rounds next month.

"This is a significant change in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but also a natural one," the director of the Bee, Paige Kimble, said. "It represents a deepening of the Bee's commitment to its purpose: to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives."

The vocabulary portion will be computer-based and multiple-choice. Sample questions include: What does it mean to appertain? (To belong either as something appropriate or as an attribute.) And, what does it mean to winnow? (To take out undesired parts.)

Local championships wrapped up at the end of last month, so all contestants vying for the national title have the same window of time to brush up on their vocabulary. More than 280 spellers will compete in Washington D.C. May 28 to May 30 in the Bee, which will be broadcast on ESPN.

Last year, 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati won -- her prize included $30,000 in cash, a trophy, a $2,500 savings bond, a $5,000 scholarship and other perks -- for correctly spelling "guetapens," a French-derived noun meaning ambush, snare or trap. She was not required to define it.

This year's contestants who make it to the final round will not be asked to define words either—the vocabulary portion will be wrapped up by May 29.

News of the rule change reverberated on Twitter where commenters shared their outrage, amusement and occasional gratitutude for the rule change. Here's a sampling:


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sandy Hook Victim's Daughter Calls Out Senators


The daughter of the school principal killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre called out U.S. senators who are threatening a filibuster on gun control for failing to take her phone calls, and Gov. Dannel Malloy lent his voice this afternoon to help her get calls back.

Erica Lafferty tweeted on Tuesday that she was going through the list of U.S. senators threatening to filibuster and calling them one by one. On Tuesday morning, she tweeted a photo of her sister’s wedding where the bride is kissing her mother’s check.

"I don’t get one of these at my wedding in June," she tweeted.

One senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, agreed to call her back. So she called others out for not calling her back.

"I'll never see my mom again because she was gunned down in Sandy Hook. I don't deserve to be heard?" she tweeted to members of Congress.    

A newsletter posted on the website for Sen. Cruz says he "has pledged to use any procedural means necessary to ensure Congress does not pass any laws infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."

Sen. Cruz spoke with Lafferty by phone for 15 to 20 minutes Tuesday afternoon, according to a source.

Through Twitter, Lafferty told the lawmakers that she is not going away.

Lafferty tweeted at Cruz, along with Sens. Marco Rubio, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Richard Burr, Ron Johnson, Mike Enzi, Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Dan Coats and Pat Roberts.

Then Gov. Malloy got involved, tweeting each of the lawmakers.

"Please call @E_Laffs2 back. The families deserve to be heard, and they deserve a vote," Malloy tweeted.

Andrew Doba, director of communications for Malloy, said the governor’s office wanted to lend its voice to the effort.

Several families who lost loved ones in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December traveled to Washington on Monday with President Barack Obama to assist with lobbying efforts on federal gun control legislation. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Boy, 6, Dies After Allegedly Being Shot by Neighbor, 4


A 6-year-old New Jersey boy has died after being shot in the head with a rifle by his 4-year-old neighbor, a law enforcement source says. 

Brandon Holt died at Jersey Shore Medical Center, where he was taken with a bullet lodged in his brain Monday evening, police said. He had been playing in the younger boy's yard when he was shot. 

It's not clear if the 4-year-old pulled the trigger or if the rifle accidentally discharged. 

Authorities said the two boys were outside the 4-year-old's home in Toms River when the gun, a .22-caliber rifle, went off at about 7 p.m. The parents were nearby and heard the shot; the boy's mother called 911.

The victim's aunt, Danella Magiera, told NBC 4 New York the bullet went through the back of his head and became lodged in his brain; doctors had tried to keep the brain swelling down, she said. 

Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said the boy was shot from 15 yards away. 

Police are investigating how the younger child obtained the rifle from his family's home on McCormick Drive. Authorities said it wasn't known if the rifle was registered to anyone who lives there. It apparently was not the only firearm in the house, according to neighbors in the child-friendly neighborhood. 

"I'm angry about the dad that had these guns in the house," said neighbor Debi Coto. "They took more out last night." 

Multiple law enforcement sources said the 4-year-old boy and his two siblings have names associated with hunting terms. 

Investigators have not detailed what was removed from the home after the shooting Monday night. The case is being turned over to the Atlantic County prosecutor's office because of a "relationship issue" with a former employee of the Ocean County prosecutor's office and the family of the 4-year-old boy, a law enforcement source said. 

Magiera said the 4-year-old boy is the youngest of three children. His family recently moved to the home on McCormick Drive, which is a few doors down from where her nephew lives, she said.

The incident has brought a new reality check for parents whose children go to play at neighbors' homes. 

"My sister said she would actually ask, 'Do you have guns, are they locked up?' Because you never know today. You never know," said Coto. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Climate Change Could Hurt Winemaking, Wildlife


Climate change could dampen spirits. Literally.

That's according to a new worldwide analysis of global warming on wine production, which appeared this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found the area suitable for wine production will shrink by as much as 73 percent by 2050 in certain parts of the globe — about 70 percent in California — with high potential for stress on rivers and other freshwater ecosystems, as vineyards use water to cool grapes or irrigate to compensate for rising temperatures and declining rainfall. 

Scientists, including those at Stanford University, have long known that land suitable for winegrowing was in deep trouble because of the heating of the Earth.

But the new study suggests wine production will shift to new areas — such as the Rocky Mountains near the Canadian-U.S. border and New Zealand — as climate change makes the existing ones less hospitable.

The move, the scientists say, puts other species, such as the grizzly bear, gray wolf and pronghorn, at risk.

"Climate change is going to move potential wine-producing regions all over the map," Lee Hannah, the study's lead author and senior scientist for climate change biology at Conservation International's new Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics, said in a statement.

"These global changes put the squeeze on wildlife and nature's capacity o sustain human life in some surprising places," Hannah said. "Consumer awareness, industry and conservation actions are all needed to help keep high quality wine flowing without unintended consequences for nature and the flows of goods and services it provides people. This is just the tip of the iceberg — the same will be true for many other crops."

The researchers looked at nine major wine producing areas: California, Western North America, Chile, Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe, Cape Floristic region of South Africa, parts of Australia with Mediterranean climate, parts of Australia with non-Mediterranean climate and New Zealand.

Most American wine comes from the West Coast — Napa and Santa Barbara Counties in California, Yamhill County in Oregon's Willamette Valley and Walla Walla County in Washington's Columbia Valley.

California alone, according to Stanford, produces on average more than 5 million gallons per year, accounting for about 90 percent of the nation's total wine production, according to the Wine Institute, a trade organization representing California winemakers. The institute estimated the retail value of the state's wine industry in 2010 at $18.5 billion.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Group Plans Lawsuit Against Gun Law


A gun rights group plans to file legal action in response to the new gun control law. Governor Dannel Malloy signed that legislation into law last Thursday.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League says the law is unconstitutional. The group now has 6,000 members. Many of them spent weeks making the case at the State Capitol.

"Oh yes, there will be legal action," Scott Wilson, CCDL's president, said. "That's a given at this point."

Wilson and his members believe the bill was rushed through the General Assembly. He said there is a lot of confusion about it.

"We're being flooded with requests as far as what is legal and what is not," Wilson said.

He argues that the new law punishes law abiding citizens. They are already raising money to pay for legal action.

State Attorney General George Jepsen said there are no pending lawsuits but he knows that will change.

"We fully anticipate that there will be lawsuits filed," Jepsen said. "We are preparing to defend the new law. The new law is Constitutional and will stand scrutiny and we will vigorously defend it."

Sandy Hook Families Make Case in Washington


Thursday could be the day the U.S. Senate takes up gun control legislation.

On Tuesday Sandy Hook family members walked the hallways on Capitol Hill. They went door to door visiting senators to try and press them to vote on new gun control laws.

The families are trying to convince Republican lawmakers to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

"It is insulting to the families from Sandy Hook who've gone through this tragedy to not even get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," Sen. Chris Murphy, said.

Some Republicans have said they planned to filibuster the legislation although a handful of other GOP members were against that.

The proposal would expand background checks, ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Senator Richard Blumenthal said the families deserve an up or down vote.

"Like most of America they are a aghast that a small group of entrenched opposition could stop democracy," Sen. Blumenthal said.

On Monday President Barack Obama made the push for new federal gun control laws at the University of Hartford.

He said Connecticut's bi-partisan law should serve as an example to Washington. Last week many of the of the Sandy Hook families personally lobbied lawmakers at the State Capitol.

"My expectations for Congress are high," Nicole Hockley, mother of 6-year-old Dylan, said Monday. "I believe with that with the same approach of love and logic Congress will be persuaded to act"

The families hope to personally persuade lawmakers over the next few days.

Governor Dannel Malloy even took to Twitter urging Republicans to call the families back.

Tuesday morning Vice President Joe Biden met with the families before speaking at a gun violence event.

"They don't understand how we could even be at this point debating this," Biden said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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