Hundreds of Colt workers gather at Capitol

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Hundreds of workers at Colt Firearms in West Hartford, gathered early this morning to head to the Capitol to make sure their voices and their concerns are heard.

"We have been here with good jobs and we're concerned, quite frankly, about losing those jobs," said Mike Holmes, Colt Employees Representative.

A call to arms as more than 600 Colt Manufacturing employees descended on the Capitol in Hartford Thursday morning ahead of a public hearing regarding a dozen weapons bills, some of which, the workers say, threaten their work.

"If there's a ban that goes through on the A.R. platform rifle in the state of Connecticut, it will impact our business," said Dennis Veilleux, President & CEO, Colt Manufacturing.

The sensitivity, just three months removed from the most senseless of gun violence at Sandy Hook, isn't lost on them.

"I believe that there are no party lines that can be drawn on the emotions and the grief that was experienced from the tragedy in Newtown," said Holmes.

It's not as if the Colt folks aren't open to some change, but they maintain that sensible legislation can save lives without killing their livelihoods.

"There's things that we can do, like stronger background checks, improvements to the N.I.C.S. system," said Veilleux.

In fact, Colt would love to be part of developing 'smart gun' safeguard technology at some point.

"I think it's inevitable, at some point, that something be done with that technology, but it's just not there today," Veilleux said.

A fierce enough debate already with lives at stake, but with local livelihoods also in the balance, anxiety and anticipation are almost sure to escalate while the state legislature works to put a new gun law package in the Governor's hands.

"I think that there's a lot of room to enforce the laws that we have and to really study what's good and what's bad about the existing laws, and learn from that and build on it," said Veilleux.

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