ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Nicole Hockley says she is doing the work she's doing so no other parents have to stand in her position.
Hockley, a mother whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting, spoke in favor of legislation that supporters say focuses on mental health. to reduce gun violence while in Allentown Friday.
"This is one of my favorite photos of him in his superman outfit because he was my superman," Hockley said, while holding up a picture of her son, to the crowd gathered at the Allentown Police Department station on 10th and Hamilton streets.
Hockley's six year old son Dylan was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012.
"He was just a bundle of joy and real pure love in our family," Hockley said.
Hockley visited Allentown to show support for proposed legislation called the "Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act" which aims to reduce and prevent gun violence.
"It would close the loopholes in the current gun laws by prohibiting the purchase or possession of a firearm by stalkers, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill," Hockley said.
"The bill would invest in state and local grants focused on school and community based mental and behavioral health programs, would provide law enforcement additional tools to recognize and respond to mental illness," she went on.
Some local leaders stood by her and also spoke in favor of the legislation.
"Let's at least have the discussion about proper funding for mental health and lets at least have the discussion about how we make sure that those with mental illness don't have access to weapons," Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said.
"Legislation like this will help us be both protected in serving the public and helping us serve the public in a more efficient manner," said Allentown Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.
But not everyone is so sure this is the best way to go about gun safety.
"Generally we say show us enforcement of existing law before you ask us to give up even more rights," Tom Campione, chair of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party's 2nd Amendment committee, said in a phone interview.
Campione is also the director of legislative affairs for Pennsylvanians for Self Protection.
"We're saying, fix this system so that people are treated fairly, our position is to make a blanket statement and say well just because you went to a counselor that alone is not sufficient reason to take firearms from an individual, where do you draw the line," Campione went on.
The Promoting Helthy Minds for Safer Communities Act is sponsored by Democrat Congressman Mike Thompson from California, but some local republicans don't seem to disagree with what the bill offers.
"I certainly agree with the Sandy Hook parents too about the need to make sure that those with serious mental illnesses, even those who have been involuntarily committed and even those who have real signs of mental instability, can't get access to firearms," Representative Charlie Dent said in a phone interview.
"How can you not talk to parents of Sandy Hook and not feel for them?," Dent went on.
Friday's visit to Allentown was the first stop for the group Sandy Hook Promise as they spend the next several weeks traveling across the country promoting the legislation.
Allentown, PA 18102