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Gun Rights Challenged By Many, Defended By Few

by | Dec 24, 2012 6:29am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Town News, Newtown, West Hartford, Law Enforcement, Public Safety

Not all of the more than 100 residents who attended U.S. Rep. John B. Larson’s forum Sunday on violence prevention agreed with his desire to reinstate a nationwide ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. But most of them did.

The forum held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford was Larson’s way of keeping the conversation about gun control and violence prevention going in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

But not everyone agreed with the solutions that Larson put on the table during a 20-minute speech.

“It is a Second Amendment right. I don’t think it’s your position to tell me what kind of weapon or how many rounds I need to protect my family, to target shoot, or to hunt,” one man told Larson. “Second I think you’re doing a disservice to all those families by grandstanding the fact that by passing this legislation it solves the problem.”

The man was interrupted by a mostly anti-gun audience.

Larson told the man he never suggested that the gun control legislation “solved the problem.”

“I said there’s no panacea,” Larson said. “But to be blind to the fact that assault weapons are used in these deaths — it is part of the problem.”

He said he respected the man’s right to come and voice his concerns about gun rights, even though he disagreed.

“I respect gun owners, but I don’t see the logic in assault weapons or multi-capacity. I guess they’re fun to shoot,” Larson said.

The man agreed that the guns were fun to shoot, but added that wasn’t why a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.

“The root cause of why he did this had nothing to do with assault weapons,” the man said. “He would have found another way.”

The man was booed by the crowd.

Many suggested mental illness also contributed to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, even though it’s still unclear if the gunman suffered from any specific type of mental disease.

More than a handful of residents called for more resources to be directed at the state’s fractured health care system.

One woman, who said she’s a member of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was concerned that the last time state officials looked at the mental health system they failed to understand the issues properly and did more harm than good.

Larson assured her the task force chaired by U.S. Rep. Michael Thompson of California would be talking to experts in the mental health arena. The task force Thompson will chair was created by the Congressional Democratic Caucus and is in addition to the one created by President Barack Obama..

“Mental health is an enormous issue and it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with specifically,” Larson said.

But after several minutes of discussion about mental health, one woman opined the group needs to focus its legislative efforts on gun control because it’s a conversation the National Rifle Association doesn’t want to have.

“Let’s please concentrate on the guns,” she said. “We’re the country with the guns and that’s what we need to put our focus on while not neglecting the other issues.” The comment received applause.

Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the NRA, said in his first interview Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the national assault weapon ban didn’t stop the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and won’t stop future shootings.

“I think that’s a phony piece of legislation,” LaPierre said, adding that he doesn’t think it will pass. LaPierre also called for a national registry of those suffering from mental illness.

On Friday, LaPierre held a press conference during which he called for armed security guards in all schools in response to the shooting in Newtown. On Friday and Sunday, LaPierre also suggested that the U.S. Attorney’s office step up and start prosecuting more gun crimes.

The sentiment was echoed Sunday afternoon by Ed Peruta, director of a gun-rights organization called Connecticut Carry.

“I challenge anybody to start looking at the firearm violations,” Peruta told Larson. “They walk in the door and 18 months later they’re walking out with a deal. They’re doing no time.”

He suggested transferring all firearm cases from the state to the federal government, which he also suggested should pay for all of the prosecutions.

Peruta also dismissed Sen. Beth Bye’s proposal, which would add a 50 percent sales tax on ammunition not sold at a firing range.

“That’s a revenue stream. That’s not a preventive measure,” Peruta said. “Criminals are gonna get their bullets.”

Joseph Visconti, who has a permit to carry, tried to strike a middle ground.

He said he supports a ban on high capacity magazines, but isn’t going to turn in his pistol anytime soon. He said he has the gun for protection, but is not a member of the NRA. And, as a gun owner, he supports background checks.

Currently, there are loopholes in federal law that allow 40 percent of gun owners nationally to avoid background checks, Larson said. But he also acknowledged that requiring universal background checks for people purchasing guns and ammunition and an assault weapon ban won’t be enough. He said looking at mental health and youth violence prevention also are necessary steps.

“The ban on assault rifles should never had been allowed to expired,” he told a crowd of about 120 Sunday.

Larson said he hasn’t spoken to a hunter or sportsman who sees a need to use an assault rifle or high-capacity magazines.

He said he believes tougher gun controls will receive support from Republicans because “this is not about coming to take people’s guns away, this is about the protection of children and the stopping of unnecessary violence.”

Earlier Sunday the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence released a statement from a parent of an 8 year old Sandy Hook student who escaped the gunman.

“Our hearts are heavy this holiday in Newtown. Nothing will bring our children back or ease the pain we all feel,” Andrei Nikitchyuk, a parent whose son was saved by a courageous teacher, said. “But we can do something to make this nation safer. We can make this the nation we all want. So today I want to speak specifically to all responsible gun owners and NRA members with the message to join us. Join us because you know in your heart that we are better than this.”

Nikitchyuk is calling for all Americans to join him in signing a letter by the “We Are Better Than This” campaign. 

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(20) Archived Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | December 24, 2012  8:05am


For the NRA or Connecticut Carry there is no middle ground. They are the ones who frame the debate and the lack of serious discussion in extremes.

It is clear they offer no viable or sensible ideas to mediate this debate.

Residents of our largest. and no so large, cities in the state suffer from the illegal flow of hand guns and other weapons up the 95 corridor.

We have tolerated this because the majority of us reading this story do not live in these neighborhoods that live with this violence everyday.

Would Ed Purtuta moves his family to New Haven where the murder rate is 1 per 3800 residents?
I don’t think so and that is part of the problem.

Murder of anyone is murder and we should all be equally appalled and shocked that we allow it to happen at the rate it occurs in our state and our country.

That is the side of the debate the NRA and Connecticut Carry should be on.

posted by: Joe Eversole | December 24, 2012  10:13am

Stellablu122, you are correct, there is no middle ground.  The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, it isn’t about sport shooting, in truth, it isn’t even about self defense against criminals. It’s about protection from a Government official using the power of government to deny you any of your God Given rights.  Without the ability to arm themselves, the populace is at the mercy of the Government.  Now, as to the crime in Cities, yes, that is a problem.  You said it yourself, there is a flow of ILLEGAL guns.  So, by making more firearms ILLEGAL, how exactly does that stop the flow of ILLEGAL guns?  If Mr. Purtuta lived in the City of New Haven, then he would be more inclined, I think, to keep his firearm. As you say, there is high crime and violence there.  Why would you expect someone to disarm themselves, yet let criminals (who clearly don’t care about additional gun legislation) roam free?  It’s illogical.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske | December 24, 2012  11:22am

Joe - In this fight against tyranny you imagine, are you going to shoot at U.S. soldiers who patrol the streets, or are you going to be shooting at the black helicopters from some unknown supra-military force? And are you wanting stinger missiles and shoulder fired RPGs as part of your right to bear arms, because I don’t see a glock beating a Blackhawk or an Apache with 110-mm cannons with depleted uranium shells? Non violence, maybe.

As I have said once, and will continue to say, when tyranny visited me on January 3, 2007 in Hartford, if I had a gun, or if anyone tried to protect me with a gun, I would not be here to write this right now. Your argument to fight tyranny is a fallacy. The Second Amendment may have worked in 1776, but after Gandhi and King, we now know that mass-movements of non-violent resistance to evil can change life for the better, without resorting to bloodshed.

Regards, Ken Krayeske

posted by: SocialButterfly | December 24, 2012  12:30pm

kenneth_krayeske: Once Pres. Barack Obama cleanses the country of guns, his tooops in the streets—won’t be challenged—and he will lead this country under his controlled martial law. Please so not be so oblivious about what’s really planned for us on the horizon.  The writing is on the wall.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 24, 2012  1:25pm


@joe and @ken - here’s the 2nd Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Like Joe says, the amendment says nothing about hunting or self-defense. But it most certainly does not purport to provide citizens with the right to overthrow the federal gov’t. The 2nd Amendment was very clearly written to provide the federal gov’t with the means to quickly call up an army of armed conscripts against foreign invaders, because at the time the states didn’t have a strong central gov’t or a standing army, while other countries did. When they wrote the 2nd Amendment they were thinking of the British army.

There are also a lot of historians who believe they wrote the 2nd Amendment to provide slave owners with the authority to use force to control slaves and also for the use of force against native Americans to take their land. The amendment doesn’t say that but it’s much more likely that those thoughts were in the forefront rather than self-defense.

The 2nd basically says that gun ownership comes with membership in a “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

This essentially says you can have a firearm if you are a member of an organized army whose goal is to protect the security of the State. You were encouraged to keep a firearm, in effect, so that you could be used as a military asset by the federal gov’t.

There’s nothing in there about personal liberty or Dirty Harry or John Gault or any of the TOTAL GARBAGE that the NRA has brought to the table today with respect to gun ownership.

But the NRA and the gun industry managed to re-write our gov’t's interpretation of that simple short amendment. They have made us less safe by enabling the proliferation of firearms for profit. Yes, illegal guns are a problem. But stop the manufacture of the weapons, the bullets and the spare parts and in a few years this stuff doesn’t happen here any more. That’s the experience we’ve seen in other G20 nations and we can get there if we can defeat the culture of mindless gun advocacy.

posted by: SocialButterfly | December 24, 2012  1:45pm

It’s Christmas Eve. The Christians amongst us should be preparing to have a Merry Christmas—and take a religious holiday from guns and violence—in respect to the birth of Jesus Christ.  Merry Christmas to all!

posted by: state_employee | December 24, 2012  7:05pm

no one is going to “cleanse the country of guns.”  when you talk like that you sound paranoid.  we have a right to protect ourselves yes, but when that was written, the gun was some sort of musket.  so go get a musket and shut up.  no one needs an assault weapon capable of mowing down 5 people a second.  we have to start somewhere.  you have a right to bear arms, but I have a right to life.  my right to life supersedes yours for arms.

posted by: SocialButterfly | December 24, 2012  8:32pm

state_employee:  Please have a little class—and quit bearing arms on Christmas eve.
You have questionable integrity when you attack a different view with “shut up.”  Don’t berate other state employees’—by using their identity handle—when you choose to be nasty.  Since you apparently do not celebrate Christmas—have a Happy New Year, even if you do not get a bonus.

posted by: dano860 | December 26, 2012  9:14am

The Communist Chinese government, via its state-run media front Xinhua, has called for Americans to be disarmed, arguing that the Sandy Hook school massacre demands “no delay for U.S. gun control.” 
Indeed, it was Mao himself who said “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
The current Chinese government, the communist People’s Republic of China, was established in a revolution led by Mao Zedong, who killed an estimated 40-70 million people with starvation, executions, and re-education camps.”
Read the whole story at the above link.
When our largest creditor is attempting to guide our country things do begin to look a little scary.
I don’t call these attempts to get the liberals to be in step with the Communist Chinese “paranoid fears’.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | December 26, 2012  11:32am

I think yer all crazy. The gun argument is a red herring. I’m thinking maybe we talk about education, economic opportunity, parenting, the media, video games, parenting, the demise of our culture, world economic policies, peace, love, and parenting.

Once we solve all those issues we can talk about who is going to try to pry my firearms out of my hands.


posted by: sparkplug | December 26, 2012  5:07pm

This essentially says you can have a firearm if you are a member of an organized army whose goal is to protect the security of the State.

Gutbomb86, you failed to point out that the constitution also includes the formation of the “unorganized militia”, which includes every able-bodied male between the ages of 17 and 45.

These folks are not issued firearms by the government because they are a citizen militia. They are expected to have their own firearms. Watch the movie “The Patriot” to see an excellent illustration of what an unorganzed militia is and how it integrates with regular troops when needed.

The unorganized militia should not be confused with the National Guard as the National Guard consists of regular paid soldiers. I used to wonder why there would be a need for citizen soldiers in this day and age. However it is now clear to me when I see both regular military and national guard troops fighting side-by-side in multiple wars overseas. Without an unorganized militia (aka regular citizens with firearms) there would be no one left to defend the homeland! While folks these days might think that war could never happen here on our own soil, history would suggest that you would be a fool NOT to think it could happen.

posted by: SocialButterfly | December 26, 2012  8:16pm

HST:  Different strokes for different folks. Your paint brush is streaky.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 27, 2012  10:32pm

This is a pretty amazing exercise in how the human brain works.

Some people see guns as the issue yet dismiss the overwhelming stupidity of gun free zones. You may get more gun owners to support some gun or magazine control if you included ceasing the neon sign that sickos and criminals see with gun free zones.

I also see hypocrisy when some people say that the NRA caused this because they bought politicians. Let’s say that’s true for argument sake. That also means that politicians of both parties were bought by this so called evil organization, yet in the same breath we aren’t supposed to have any fear of government tyranny when you just say they were bought off by an evil group. Unreal how the brain just doesn’t make connections in some people.

posted by: SocialButterfly | December 28, 2012  11:22am

Joebigjoe: The blame lies on both Congress and the NRA. Please do not dance around with this national dilemna by trying to be a psychatrist.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 28, 2012  1:28pm


It’s time for gun advocates and NRA folks to admit that the “arm everyone” method of self-defense has failed us.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 28, 2012  1:40pm

Gutbomb you just made my point on the brain.

You said” It’s time for gun advocates and NRA folks to admit that the “arm everyone” method of self-defense has failed us”

Hmmm last I looked the heroic teachers etc that were in charge of protecting the children WERE NOT ARMED.

There is evil in the world. If an angel came to the Principal the night before and said that this is what will happen tomorrow, you are the only person that can stop this, here is a gun, she would unload that weapon into that piece of human excrement. We now know he wasnt wearing a bullet proof vest.

Too bad life doesn’t work that way.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 28, 2012  2:24pm


@joebigjob - I’m afraid you’ve got it reversed. The point is, where there are guns there are gun deaths. This is the disconnect with gun advocates. They think they’re preventing something by possessing firearms. Reality tells us otherwise. Common sense and obvious results tell us it was a mistake to proliferate consumerized assault weapons and similar combat gear. If you can’t accept that simple fact then there’s no reasoning with you.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 28, 2012  2:42pm

Gutbomb one death of a child is one death too many.

Problem is that many more law abiding citizens protect themselves with firearms each year than lose their lives.

Wouldn’t you agree that this reality complicates things?

I also never said that we shouldn’t restrict so called assault weapons but my guess is that if we did, people like you still can’t grasp that criminals and sick people won’t care and that won’t make people any safer in our lifetimes.

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 28, 2012  2:48pm

Reasonable I think you are wrong

I’m not a psychiatrist but my wife has been one for twenty years. She is also more liberal than I am.

You blame congress and the NRA and I blame congress, the state governments and the ACLU. when you can cite chapter and verse the way she can about how th ACLU fights to keep very dangerous people out of hospitals and protects their privacy then you should keep your thoughts to yourself

posted by: dano860 | December 28, 2012  9:36pm

The major issue in this case and many of the gang shootings can be traced back to one item, “PARENTING”.
Poor or lack of it is usually the root of these issues.
The mother in the Newtown case should have known better than to have weapons around her son.
Gangs are just replacements for the family unit.
Yes, things need to change but a lot of it goes directly back to the parenting.

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