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Gun Control Advocates Call For Legislative Action

by Christine Stuart | Feb 14, 2013 3:45pm
(12) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Town News, Hartford, Public Safety, State Capitol

Hugh McQuaid photo Thousands of Connecticut residents marched to the state Capitol on Thursday to demand that lawmakers strengthen the state’s gun laws in response to the school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.

Capitol Police Chanting phrases like “Now, now, now” and “Pass the Law,” a crowd estimated at 5,500 by Capitol Police told lawmakers like Sen. Republican Leader John McKinney, who represents Newtown, that they want action.

McKinney’s remarks to the crowd were interrupted by chants of “pass the law.” McKinney was at the Newtown firehouse on Dec. 14 as 26 families were informed that their loved ones were murdered. On Thursday he spoke about how that day changed him forever.

“Beyond any laws that we may pass, each one of us can make a difference in making our society better,” McKinney said before he was interrupted by chants of “pass the law.”

The chants continued for several seconds and reminded lawmakers who attended just how controversial gun control issues remain in a state with some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. 

Christine Stuart photo

Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney addresses the crowd

McKinney paused and let the crowd get the chanting out of its system before proceeding, but he was stopped again.

“Let me change what I was going to say,” McKinney said. “In Washington, D.C., Republicans and Democrats won’t even sit down and talk with one another.” The crowd booed. “Here’s what’s okay and acceptable about our democracy: having different opinions is okay and healthy for our democracy. Here’s what’s not acceptable: allowing those differences to be a barrier to making progress.”

McKinney said that in Connecticut, Republicans and Democrats work together.

“I stand by my record of 14 years. I am proud of the record I have — voting for an assault weapons ban, which we’ve done in Connecticut on a bipartisan basis,” McKinney told the crowd.

Later, after stepping away from the podium, McKinney said shouting at people is not going to help resolve the issue on either side. He said there’s too much of that on both sides of the debate and it has to stop.

He also said there appears to be confusion about how politics work in Connecticut versus Washington. He said that when President Barack Obama stood up and said “they deserve a vote,” that’s just not an issue in Connecticut.

“In Connecticut, we’ve never denied a vote on any of these issues,” McKinney said.

The three bipartisan subcommittees on gun control, school security, and mental health will be making their recommendations to legislative leaders Friday. Leaders from all four caucuses will then be responsible for reaching consensus on those recommendations and writing a bill that encompasses what they can agree upon.

McKinney wasn’t the only Republican lawmaker to attend the rally, but he was not joined by House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero. Cafero’s spokesman said he didn’t want his attendance at the rally to be misconstrued as support for the group’s agenda at a time when the subcommittee is still debating the issues.

Crowd at the rally

The two women who organized the rally, Nancy Lefkowitz and Meg Staunton, have teamed up with Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV) and embraced the group’s agenda.

CAGV’s agenda is the “the most ambitious” in the state’s history, according to Ron Pinciaro, CAGV’s executive director. It calls for a stronger assault weapons ban, universal background checks for all gun purchases, annual renewal of handgun permits, and increasing the liability for gun owners who fail to properly store their firearms.

It’s an agenda supported by Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah, was among those killed on Dec. 14.

Pozner said Dec. 14 was the tipping point.

“How could anyone think that my son’s life or any of those whose lives were stolen that day were so disposable that it is acceptable to do nothing?” Pozner said.

It was Pozner who asked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to view her 6-year-old son’s bullet-riddled body before he was buried.

Speaking about gun control legislation on Thursday, Malloy said “clearly the time has come.”

“What’s going to happen in this nation is that Newtown has forever changed it,” he said. “The NRA cannot confuse people into believing that all gun sales should not be subject to background checks.”

Malloy called for action at both the state and national level.

“Every day that we delay making common sense changes on a national basis is a day in which more innocent individuals will die because we failed to act,” Malloy said.

He also encouraged the crowd not to forget what happened in Newtown.

“We have to use it as our justification for making the kind of change that we all desire seeing,” Malloy said. “We will not rest until we have changed Connecticut.”

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a former lawmaker, said she’s hearing that lawmakers are receiving email “100 to 1 against” changing the state’s gun laws.

“Today, we are here to be the new not-so-quite majority,” Merrill told the crowd.

Attorney General George Jepsen, who was in the Senate when Connecticut passed the assault weapons ban in 1993, said it cleared each committee and each chamber by a single vote.

“The other side is very well-organized. They work hard. They are not interested in an honest dialogue and they will fight tooth-and-nail,” Jepsen said.

But it’s more than just legislation.

“We need to do more than pass good laws. We need to change social attitudes. We need to change a culture that tolerates gun violence,” Jepsen said.

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(12) Comments

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | February 14, 2013  4:29pm

GoatBoyPHD

The NRA already won. The 10-shell, background check, military style weapon ban is anticipated. The liability laws will be reworked to cover gross negligence.
No state has evidence these laws are anything but a panacea to the anti-gun lobby. I don’t have a problem with the laws, just the effectiveness. Targeting felons does more for urban crime as is done under Project Longevity and is validated. Whose rights should be compromised? Legal gun owners or the profiled most likely to use a weapon in a crime and an assault?

posted by: Hebee | February 15, 2013  8:57am

Mentally Ill, young, white males shooting up malls and schools will not be stopped with feel good gun legislation. Young inner-city brown and black males, killing over a street corner territory or in a gang related feud, will not stop because of new gun proposals. There are serious problems that have roots in so many different places in our society. You pick one: spoiled children brought up self-entitled, a failure by many to accept responsibility for their personal actions, the absence of a positive role model or authority figure in many homes or maybe the lack of availability to Mental Health Care. Or maybe just the simple Fact: You can’t become anything good if a Gang is your only family.
    I watched the Mental Health portion of the CT Legislative Violence Hearings and was stunned by the failure of our State’s Health System to help adults and children with Mental Health Issues. I am not surprised that Legislators choose to pile on the Gun part of the equation rather than the Mental Health side; which could actually accomplish some of the desired results. The access to Mental Health information will not come without a Legislative fight. The “invasion of privacy” will bring out the ACLU and 4th Amendment Advocates and may (God forbid) offend some liberal folks. This effort would probably cost liberal Legislators a vote or two in the next Election.
    Making intelligent, thoughtful strides to improve our failed Mental Health System will be hard. It will require research and will need to be worked on quietly, behind closed doors and away from the Media Spotlight; in order to get the Medical and Mental Health Community to cooperate. Private and quiet negotiations mean that there will be no reporters in attendance and therefore very little Political upside for Legislators to do the right thing. I do agree with our Legislators and these demonstrators on one thing; we must try.
    In an effort to save 8,000 pages of text and Tens of Thousands of Dollars in tax dollars, Please allow me to write the New Gun Legislation. Unlike the “My Way or the Highway” politicians today, I have included points that I don’t really agree with. In all good deals, you must give something to get something:
1) No civilian should have a more powerful weapon than Law Enforcement, PERIOD!
2) A background check required on ALL weapon sales that applies the same, existing Connecticut handgun requirements and procedures to include ammunition, rifles and shotguns.
3) Include Medical and Mental Health information in the permit and weapons purchase process and make that same Mental Health information available to Law Enforcement.

posted by: Chien DeBerger | February 15, 2013  9:26am

As a second amendment supporter and a police officer in this state for over 33 years and still serving, I am against violent crimes. I do NOT support enacting laws that have no effect. I do NOT support the further restrictions upon the law abiding citizens. I DO support the re-institution of the death penalty. I DO support the repeal of “Gun Free” zones. I DO support the increasing of penalties with NO early release for crimes of violence. I DO support a “three strike” rule for violent offenders. I DO support allowing faculty and staff of our schools to carry their sidearms if they wish to. And so do the vast majority of the rank and file officers who are out on the street. Unfortunately you will not hear that message at the capitol or from the propaganda media.

posted by: ASTANVET | February 15, 2013  10:49am

As the economy gets weaker, people will become more desperate.  Crime and violence will increase as people are squeezed tighter and tighter, weather that will spike “mental health” conditions or not is up to debate, but it is historically accurate to say that there is a rise in violence as economies fail - then you have to ask yourself, who will be safer when they restrict our gun rights… criminals and politicians.  I have weapons for hunting, target shooting, and personal/home defense.  They seek in Hartford to limit my ability to defend myself, my family and my property.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske | February 15, 2013  11:18am

Embrace non-violence.

posted by: Christine Stuart | February 15, 2013  11:19am

Christine Stuart

Actually ASTANVET,
Violent crime goes down in recessionary periods. Crime is at its lowest rate since the 1960s in CT. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the research done by the Freakonomics crew: http://www.freakonomics.com/2009/05/13/recession-check-so-wheres-the-crime/

posted by: Christine Stuart | February 15, 2013  11:23am

Christine Stuart

Here’s another interesting fact from the Freakonomics crew. There’s an average of two mass shootings per year over the last 30 years, but in 2012 there were 7 shootings with 72 fatalities, more than 4 times the average number of victims in a year from mass shootings.

posted by: Greg | February 15, 2013  12:21pm

Christine- You’re right about crime at a low, but also consider that gun ownership is at a relative high and concealed carry laws across the country are probably as lax as in recent history, save CT, NY, RI, MA, IL, CA. Correlation-causation?

posted by: Hebee | February 15, 2013  1:03pm

Christine, The reason for the recent spike in mass shootings is because the shooters get to be famous on local news, CNN, MSNBC and FOX for weeks. These kids are the losers who were picked on everyday at school. After a school shooting they watch their new role models (previous shooters) on TV for weeks. They instantly found a way for them to become “Someone Famous” too.  Stop the 24/7 Media coverage about these nuts and the incentive to shoot up the mall is gone.

posted by: Reasonable | February 15, 2013  2:29pm

Christine Stuart:  There is an escalation in gun violence due to the fact that there are more people out there—and “more crazies” also.

posted by: lkulmann | February 15, 2013  2:38pm

@hebee… what do you base the statement…in order to get the medical and mental heath community to cooperate… can you explain? I’m under the impression that the conflict is between the states reimbursement rates and the healthcare community as a whole…

posted by: ASTANVET | February 17, 2013  10:42am

Christine, you accurately describe the crime rate between now and the 60’s, in actuality the overall violent crime rate in the last 20 years has gone down by almost 52% (according to FBI crime statistics), why are no politicians touting this success?? because it does not fit the narrative for gun control.  More states since 1960 have enacted concealed carry laws, and gun registration is at an all time high.  My point was simply that through the policies of our State and Federal government, having done their best to destroy the economy - are putting a lot of pressure on society.  People when pushed to desperation commit desperate acts… I do not want my ability to defend my family at the mercy of those in hartford.