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Raise the Caliber Sculpture Unveiled in Bushnell Park

by Christine Stuart | Sep 3, 2014 2:30pm
(7) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Four years ago, Michael Kalish envisioned creating a sculpture from illegal guns. But he didn’t necessarily want to melt them down until they were unrecognizable to accomplish that goal.

But there was one problem. How does an internationally renowned artist get gun parts?

That’s when he sought out Jessica Mindich, CEO of Jewelry for a Cause and founder of Raise the Caliber.

Mindich and her organization run voluntary gun buyback programs in Newark, N.J., and are active in the movement to help end gun violence.

Mindich was able to deliver 2,000 pounds of shredded illegal firearms to Kalish to help him create the sculpture. Kalish said they arrived by police escort at his studio.

There are parts from Uzis, Glocks, sniper rifles, AK-47s, and pistols incorporated into the sculpture. Mindich said she worried that she would “scar him [Kalish] with the angry energy and the pain coming from this metal.”

“Amazingly Michael absorbed all of it and churned it through his passion for this project to create the ‘Raise the Caliber’ tribute monument,” Mindich explained Wednesday during an unveiling ceremony in Bushnell Park.

Christine Stuart photo

The artist, Michael Kalish, talks about his sculpture

Kalish said it took him two weeks to touch the first gun, but once he did he realized it was “about breathing new life into something that was part of something so tragic.”

Kalish said he couldn’t comment on the policies or the politics related to guns. “All I can do is be creatively disruptive and bring people together,” Kalish said.

That’s exactly what Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said they hope this sculpture does.

“Illegal gun violence has taken way too many lives,” Segarra said Wednesday. “In Hartford, we have chosen not to accept it.”

Malloy touted the drop in crime since the enactment of tougher gun laws following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.

In 2011, there were 129 murders in the state, with 81 of those occurring in three cities, Malloy said. Since passing the bill in 2013 and new initiatives like Project Longevity, “we’ve made real progress.”

He said using 2011 as a base year, homicides have decreased by 32 percent in the state and by 31 percent in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. Shootings have also decreased overall, he said.

But there’s still work to be done.

Malloy reminded those who attended the ceremony Wednesday that where Congress has failed, Connecticut has taken a bipartisan approach to reducing gun violence.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who fought to get legislation passed in the Senate last year, said “Democracy is broken when 90 percent of Americans can’t get what they want.”

He was referring to a 2013 poll that found that 90 percent of Americans supported universal background checks. But Congress has been unable to pass federal legislation that would require background checks on all gun purchases.

Murphy said it was gatherings like the one in Bushnell Park for the unveiling of the sculpture that helps them “recommit themselves by any means possible” to the cause of eliminating illegal gun violence.

The sculpture, which looks like a handshake, will remain in the park for about nine months before it moves to Detroit.

Attendees of Wednesday’s unveiling said they could remember the last time a new piece of public art came to Bushnell Park.

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(7) Comments

posted by: Joebigjoe | September 4, 2014  6:29am

Mindich said she worried that she would “scar him [Kalish] with the angry energy and the pain coming from this metal”

She should stop having Fruit Loops at breakfast and switch to something with some fiber.

I would like to ask Murphy why the ACLU is not for true comprehensive background checks?

I’d also like to ask him why the Federal Govt under Obama has the lowest prosecution of federal gun crimes ever? I’m sure 90% of the people would agree on that not making sense.

One day as a people we will unite and instead of calling what politicians of both parties say is “spin” we’ll call them “liars” and demand they stop.

posted by: cnj-david | September 4, 2014  10:41am

So many things wrong with this article, not in the actual reporting, but in what was reported as being stated by others.

Let’s start with Murphy’s (and Blumenthal’s, and Malloy’s, and Bloomberg’s and every other gun-control advocate out there’s) repeated statement that 90% of the population wants “universal background checks”.  That figure came from a very carefully worded Washington Post poll and has been debunked multiple times.  Try looking at the reporting of the poll taken by McKeon and Associates which shows that “Only four out of ten Americans support so-called “universal background checks” at gun shows after being informed that the vast majority of firearms sales at these shows are transacted by licensed retailers that already conduct such checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as required by federal law. The poll results stand in contrast to the vague claim often reported in the media and attributed to gun control proponents without important contextual detail that 90 percent of Americans surveyed support “universal background checks.”  You can read the NSSF article at http://www.nssfblog.com/americans-dont-think-universal-background-checks-extension-for-gun-shows-are-needed-national-poll-finds/”.

Next is the continued reference to the guns used in this sculpture as being “illegal”.  The guns in question were reportedly purchased through gun “buyback” programs.  In which case, SOME of them MAY have indeed been illegally owned; but others were simply turned in because people no longer wanted them in their homes.

As for Dannel, or Dan with the preferred address changing depending upon the audience, and his claims that passing the legislation after the Sandy Hook horror have dropped gun crimes, and citing that there were 129 killings in 2011…

Connecticut uses a Uniform Crime Reporting program, and the numbers of homicides for the years 2000 through 2012, (last year currently reported), read:
98, 106, 88, 117, 100, 112, 135, 108, 128, 107, 132, 129, 143.

Graph the numbers, and you won’t see any obvious trends based solely upon these figures.

Any extrapolation from them is merely analogous to the way that a drunkard uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination.

The violence in our society is a product of the people within it, not the tools that they use to carry it out.  We need desperately to focus on the underlying causes if we want to have any success in lowering violence. 

Politicians standing around patting themselves on the back, regurgitating lies, and passing ineffectual laws aren’t going to change anything for the better.

posted by: sofaman | September 4, 2014  6:34pm

. . . so much typing, so much ignorance.

The U.S.A. has the highest murder rate in the western world by a massive margin. The U.S.A. has the loosest gun laws and the highest gun ownership in the western world by a massive margin.

When these ‘experts’ are beaten (and they are always beaten) by the overwhelming (and tragic) numbers that show how violent our culture has become,  they turn to “well, it’s our right”.

Common sense people realize it’s their right to walk down the street without fear of being gunned down too.

posted by: prclassic | September 4, 2014  7:27pm

We can’t end Gun Violence by taking the Guns away from Law Abiding Citizens.  The Gov’t always try to go the easy way out to impress the voters. That piece of JUNK in CT will only feed the anti-gun radicals. The Criminals only laugh at it. These politicians are there with the only purpose to Get Exposure in the media, they can careless about the substance.

posted by: Joebigjoe | September 4, 2014  9:05pm

Sofaman, how about we agree to start to fix the violence in the inner cities first. When that’s successfully done and every illegally owned gun is found from every crevass, behind every wall and appliance, and nook and cranny in peoples homes, and after the Civil War that follows, I’ll be happy to discuss embracing your way.

It’s also amazing that for the murder capital of the world so many people will break laws and risk life and limb to get here. I wonder what they fear???

posted by: whatsprogressiveaboutprogressives? | September 6, 2014  7:23am

The whole gun thing with regressives is that they simply don’t believe in private firearms ownership, unless of course it’s for their security detail. Period. All of this garbage they propose is nothing but a gun grab.
If I can use my drivers license in all other 49 states, why can’t I use my handgun permit? Thank the marxist,stateist,elites who are controlling us. Let me take my legally purchased and registered firearms to any other state without worry of arrest, then I’ll support complete national background checks. Blumy + Murphy, let me give you a negotiating tip: If you want something, give something up. Thanks for playing.

posted by: cnj-david | September 6, 2014  7:27am

Sofaman - I actually agree with the most important thing you said: “Common sense people realize it’s their right to walk down the street without fear of being gunned down too.”

You’re absolutely right, no sarcasm here.  I didn’t say anything about our constitution; I said that our elected politicians are lying to us and giving us legislation that is ineffective.

If you walk down the street, and a criminal decides to use a firearm, (or a knife, or a hammer), to threaten you; your only recourse apparently is to give them your property and hope they won’t hurt you.  You can call the police afterwards, unless you’re extremely lucky and they’re present to intervene.

And that’s wrong - you shouldn’t have to be that vulnerable.

If I’m in the same situation, I will first attempt to avoid, then de-escalate, then take whatever actions necessary and appropriate to stop the threat.

I don’t want you to be a victim of violence, why would you want to remove my ability to keep myself from being a victim?

Another key point is that I’m a law-abiding citizen, who happens to have a CT wqeapons permit.  I’m not a criminal, I’m not a threat to you or anyone else who isn’t threatening me.  I’m not society’s problem, and the laws that Malloy, Blumenthal and Murphy are so happy about haven’t done anything to the people that are society’s problem yet they have negatively impacted me.

Where’s the sense in that?


Lastly, (yes, so much typing); what you claim is ignorance on my part is supported by data - not by hyperbole.  I didn’t prepare Connecticut’s Uniform Reporting, it’s a mandated report prepared by the state.  I didn’t cite a debunked “90% of Americans want background checks” - I gave you a link to an article about a reputable study that you can go read and think about.