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Ending Gun Violence for All

Patch Back's Lisa Bigelow wonders, will the results of Connecticut's gun control legislative efforts help all of our citizens, or just some?

The bipartisan task force on gun violence held a public hearing on Monday in Hartford during which Newtown victims’ family members, gun rights advocates, members of the public and elected representatives testified on upcoming legislation. 

The testimony was sobering. And it revealed an audience of constituents tired of violence, frustrated with the slow pace of legislative change and deeply, deeply divided over the rights of citizens to own (or not to own) assault-style weapons.

As I watched, what struck me most were not the heartbreaking words of the victims. It wasn’t the guarded words of the gun club member or the angry words of the control advocate.

Instead, it was the gentlemen from the high populations centers who deal with the slow, bloody drain of handgun violence every single day. They said, where have you been, Bipartisan Task Force? We’ve been begging for help for years.

They rightly stated that these current efforts, though certainly well intended, won’t do a thing to help victims of violence in the communities of Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. Therefore, I will repeat what needs repeating: any gun control legislation must address more than what is versus what isn’t an “assault” weapon.

It must be about more than just magazine capacity, too. It must even be about more than figuring out a way to incorporate better psychological care into our current health system. Instead, let us strive to end gun violence in all its forms so that our friends in urban areas win the same right to safety that those in quieter locales usually enjoy.

Alert: I’m going to ask the question that no one in the media seems to be asking. Many of you will disagree. And for once, I truly hope you do. And I not only hope you disagree, I hope you write in and tell me why I’m wrong (respectfully, of course … I didn’t enjoy being called a “stupid” “leftist” last week, even though my kids got a huge kick out of it).

Although many gun violence statistics can be twisted to suit a variety of needs the data on urban areas with high crime rates are clear: the victims are most often minorities. These minority victims far outnumber the victims of mass shootings, who tend to be white. To me, it is disappointingly clear that the nationwide effort to “do something” about guns has everything to do with affluence and its favorite cousin, race.

Tell me, where are the marches when young children are murdered on the streets of Chicago, or New Haven, or Washington, or Detroit? Let me be clear: I do not question for one moment the sincerity or intent of the folks from March for Change or CAGV or hell, even the NRA. When an event such as Newtown occurs in our own backyard it is only natural that the local response should be strong and heartfelt and pure.

But I do have serious questions about the value we as a society place on human life. Or, at the very least, I question the validity of developing a legislative response to a societal threat that is directly proportional to the consequences of one action, as occurred in Newtown, versus developing a legislative response to what occurs every day to people of all colors.

Let’s work together to make all forms of violence end, as one reader so aptly wrote to me several days ago. Let’s help our legislators craft a bill that will regulate private gun sales so common criminals can’t get them easily. Let’s make universal background checks strict and repeating. Let’s develop and enforce safe storage laws and train administrators and teachers in effective self defense tactics.

Most of all, let us remember the words written in the hearts of every American: all men are created equal.

Robert Chambers January 31, 2013 at 03:21 PM
I was at this hearing on Monday. It was a long day and there were many viewpoints. The media did a pretty awful spin on the day, the heckling incident NBC cut and pasted together didn't happen, pretty shameful reporting. If you want to see what really happened before the media spin go to http://ct-n.com and look through the archives for it.
Robert Chambers January 31, 2013 at 03:33 PM
As for your question: "Although many gun violence statistics can be twisted to suit a variety of needs the data on urban areas with high crime rates are clear: the victims are most often minorities. These minority victims far outnumber the victims of mass shootings, who tend to be white. To me, it is disappointingly clear that the nationwide effort to “do something” about guns has everything to do with affluence and its favorite cousin, race. Tell me, where are the marches when young children are murdered on the streets of Chicago, or New Haven, or Washington, or Detroit? Let me be clear: I do not question for one moment the sincerity or intent of the folks from March for Change or CAGV or hell, even the NRA. When an event such as Newtown occurs in our own backyard it is only natural that the local response should be strong and heartfelt and pure." Mayor DeStefano from New Haven brought that up. The MAJORITY of the killings by firearms in his pit of a town are done by gangs using handguns. Usually young black or hispanic males and disproportionately in the poorer neighborhoods. Why is that? Couple of reasons I guess, the poor don't really have an ear at town hall where as if a doctor from a more affluent neighborhood called something would be done. The police man from New Haven who testified said the same thing, he blamed the legislature for letting these violent felons out after a short time so they can get back to their criminal activity.
Robert Chambers January 31, 2013 at 03:36 PM
It was also brought up that when the state financed a violent offender task force that went into these lower income/high crime areas of Hartford and blitzed the areas arresting people for old warrants, they managed to take MANY illegally possessed (probably stolen) handguns off the street. A direct result of this was killings and crime in those very neighborhoods dropped substantially. The state in its infinite wisdom cut that funding and those offenders made their way back into society and crime went back up again. Why cut the funding for a program that worked??? something we all wondered. If you find something that makes a REAL impact keep doing it, don't cut funding for it!
CuriousOrange January 31, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance would be the type of non-governmental, private-sector, 'free-market' solution to the absurdity of 2nd Amendment claims. It is well-known that addicts (smoking, drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, etc.) rationalize their cravings with all sorts of nonsensical claims. Written hundreds of years ago, the 2nd Amendment justifies itself in anachronistic terms: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...." None of the modern pro-gun arguments are relevant -- unless you are addicted.
RMK January 31, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Yes, Robert, the heckling DID happen - you just tune out what you don't want to accept. Watch the video and notice that without a single edit the pro-gun nuts are shouting down the victim's father's question by misquoting the second amendment. They're not even answering his stated question, just bloviating a talking point.
RMK January 31, 2013 at 03:53 PM
If mental health is part of the problem then those on the Republican side of issues need to stop cutting mental health funding. And at this point I will say that mental health IS a large part of the issue -- ANYONE who needs an assault weapon with high-capacity magazines for 'home and personal protection' has issues that go beyond being just apparently socially inept and unlikable. They are delusional and nuts.
L. Smioth January 31, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I agree on the mental health, but we do not need liberal adjudication deciding what firearms gun owners should have. That's already covered in ATF laws. Liberals want eventual disarming of gun owners to occur, and that is not acceptable. More restrictive gun laws will not help, and would not have made a difference in any of the latest murder sprees, and name calling just creates more animosity.
RMK January 31, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Well, you'd have a point on the ATF laws if the tea party (without the courtesy of anything remotely involving adjudication) and the NRA didn't keep the ATF toothless by stripping it's authority and leadership. Yes, L, the tea party Republicans AND Wayne LaPierre are out there now talking about how law enforcement not doing their jobs is part of the problem......meanwhile, these clowns worked to ensure that is so. It's a disgrace. Let's hope that you're not going to tell us you helped enable these idiots by electing them to office and argue on the NRA's behalf.
Chris January 31, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Then let's skip the 2A, and look at the Connecticut State Constitution. Article 1, Section 15: Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. There.... nice and simple, modern, easy to understand words. Written not hundreds of years ago, but in 1965. More then 50yrs AFTER semiauto firearms became popular among civilians. 18 years AFTER Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the AK-47 8 years AFTER Eugene Stoner designed the M16 rifle for the military. 3 years AFTER Colt came out the AR-15. It was also written BEFORE the Gun Control Act of 1968, which was the law that first regulated gun sales. When the Connecticut State Constitution was signed, you could walk into a hardware store and buy a current military style rifle with a 30rnd magazine or a handgun without so much as a library card for ID. You could order a high-powered semiauto rifle from the Sears catalog. Kids brought their rifles to school for the shooting team like kids now bring a mitt for baseball practice after school. And we didn't have shooting like Newtown. We didn't have violent crime on the level of New Haven. So, none of that is relevant either? None of that is indicative that the problems we're facing now might be caused by something other then a gun? Are you REALLY that closed minded?
Jonah Damon January 31, 2013 at 06:48 PM
If my Second Amendment rights are limited to firearms of the era when the Constitution was written... then your First Amendment rights are limited to the language used during that same era... So start speaking the Queens English. You can't arbitrarily decide what "holds true" during this day and age and what doesn't. They either ALL apply, here and now... or NONE of them do.
Malvi Lennon January 31, 2013 at 06:49 PM
The young girl who performed at the Obama inauguration was murdered in Chicago over the weekend. They have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Unfortunatly the criminals do not obey them. Imagine that. We need to enact laws that actually protect the people. Gun insurance does not. That is simply benefiting the insurance market and the trial lawyers. Together with the 50% tax, the idea will make it impossible for the law-abiding citizens living in the highest crime areas to legally purchase a gun. Is the affluent more worthy of protection? Already it seems that media attention and legislative action only happens if the victims are white, beautiful, and live in semi well off communities. Will they deny the poor and the minority the right to self-defense? Our legislators need to put on their big boy and girl pants and tackle the tough issues of mental health, balancing privacy with public safety, and snuggling criminals.
Adam Peplau January 31, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Everytime a new gun law is passed since 1968 legislators and gun banners have said "this is the answer, this is the way to go" to solve crimes and then when it is signed and they are in front of the cameras they say "you know this isn't the complete answer to solving crime but it's a good first step". Except that we have 20,000 Plus gun laws already signed into law, but who's counting anything besides vote's right now. How can something be a first step even though we've taken 20,000 steps and none of them have gotten any of us any closer to slowing down crime? Why do you want to return to policies that are proven failures? We tried this so called assault weapons ban on "ugly" guns and it did not work, it did not reduce crime. In fact once it ended and we got rid of the ban the murder rate went down. Why do we want to go back to something we know did not work? Why do we want to do this 100% perfect track record of failure that does not reduce crime, does not reduce murders? Gun control laws do not work. Thanks, Adam Peplau Originally from Middletown, CT Resident
Adam Peplau January 31, 2013 at 07:17 PM
The only laws that truly protect people are zero. Even the Bill of Rights and constitution which are law of the land don't even truly protect the people as we are all aware that there are truly evil people in the world that misinterpret all laws to benefit their personal agenda
Mike January 31, 2013 at 09:37 PM
I have no doubt that, if an armed intruder breaks into my home, and I have been forced to give up my guns, I will be safe. Mr Obama tells me so.
Lisa Bigelow February 01, 2013 at 05:30 PM
This is a very interesting comment. Thanks so much for posting it; it really adds to the discussion. Others have stated this idea as well elsewhere but not nearly as clearly. Does this make violence primarily an economic problem or a social/values problem? Lisa B.
Lisa Bigelow February 01, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Interesting also that Vermont perpetually reelects one of the most liberal Senators in the nation, if I'm not mistaken...Mr. Bernie Sanders. He has, pretty notably, been silent on this issue. Lisa
Lisa Bigelow February 01, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Curious, Thanks for reading, as always. I love the idea of exploring free-market solutions to this problem. The liability insurance idea could work. I also like to image a new cottage industry springing up that would address safe storage as well as monitoring said storage...not sure how that would work logistically. Just spitballing. Lisa B.
CuriousOrange February 01, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Friends, relatives, and professional bartenders take car keys away from people not fit to drive. What happens when a wife, mother, friend or policeman tries to take a gun away from someone unfit to shoot?
Malvi Lennon February 01, 2013 at 06:51 PM
In fact, Homeland Security has produced an ad - saw it last night for the first time - if an armed gunman is in your place of business decide whether you should - evacuate or hide - if neither is possible try to get away from the shooter, and if you are caught in the open grab a pair of scissors. One could not make up such stupidity even if we tried. Next, they will tell us too use Popsicle sticks.
jliriza February 02, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Thank you! A very insightful well written article. Also, I dare to bring up another issue related to protecting "our" children. What about the epidemic of pedophilia? This has haunted me so much since I had my children ten years ago and you don't hear about any groups up in arms about this rampant issue!!! Just sayin...
disheartened resident February 03, 2013 at 06:13 AM
Great SPIN JOB Lisa Bigelow, biased reporting like this is why most citizens HAVE ZERO FAITH IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA ANYMORE. Perhaps if the media actually reported THE FACTS OF WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED instead of twisting and sensationalizing the story to influence public opinion you'd have more readership. It is sickening that a supposed journalist neglected to mention how Connecticut RESIDENTS (not gun club members) who testified were 9 to 1 AGAINST new firearms laws. You neglected to mention an investigator for the Bridgeport Police forensics lab and State of CT Medical examiners office testified that THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT ONLY PROSECUTES 20% OF THE PEOPLE ARRESTED VIOLATING CURRENT GUN LAWS. You also neglected to mention how the Sandy Hook parents and residents were equally split, for and against, concerning adding new restrictions on firearms. Please enlighten us as to why you feel the need to violate the public trust with your prejudiced slanted reporting. Then please enlighten us as to why a State that only enforces 20% of firearms violations should add on more laws that only law abiding citizens will obey?
Robert Chambers February 03, 2013 at 09:48 PM
She must have been at a different hearing from the one I was at. It takes a lot to get that many gun owners to take a day off work and brave the bitter cold to come out to a hearing but they did, and 9-1 does sound about right. Many Newtown residents are against this "do this emergency certification law under the cover of darkness" If they came up with good working bills they should stand alone on their merits and not need to be snuck into law without the processes all the other bills go through. Look what happened in New York, they are being taken to court (rightfully so) and Cuomo's ratings have plummeted for treating the citizens like subjects. How a task force could even begin to claim their bills will help before the FULL REPORT IS ISSUED smacks of a knee-jerk reaction in the first place and the majority of the task force members ought to be ashamed of themselves.
disheartened resident February 04, 2013 at 03:48 AM
A friends brother is involved in politics in Hamden. His brother was talking to Senator Looney, the Mayor of Hamden and some other Democrats. They said that Gun Control is going to be part of our very near future, like it or not. They totally agree, that it won't do a thing to curb school violence or another Newtown Tragedy, but everything else (increased school security and mental health issues) costs too much money and CT is broke, so they have on other choice but to sacrifice the legal gun owners of CT for political reasons.
disheartened resident February 04, 2013 at 07:15 AM
What I should have said was "so they THINK THEY have on other choice but to sacrifice the legal gun owners of CT for political reasons." another glowing example of self serving politics at the expense of the citizens they took an oath to SERVE! Welcome to Corrupticut!!!
CuriousOrange February 04, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Let's find some common ground and call it "Gun Safety."
OpportunistWatch February 04, 2013 at 02:15 PM
I see way to many political talking heads trying to further their careers like Feinstein. Newtown did have shootings and violence in the past yet the liebermans and Feinsteins d idn't care until the spotlight came around. I remember a women took a shotgun a shot her husband in the 80's minutes from sandy hook school and not one senator spoke out.
Theresa February 05, 2013 at 04:15 AM
Marxist Obama? He has called for reinstating the gun ban of 1994 which has been in effect in Connecticut since then. You also need to brush up on Constitutional protocol. The President of the United States does not pass legislation. That will be up to Congress and as of today, banning assault rifles will be almost impossible on the Federal level. You need to be more conscious of state legislation that is being proposed and rather than worry about President Obama (who is Constitutionally restricted from passing LAW), be concerned with state legislation that, like NY, could effect your purchase of firearms in the future.
Theresa February 05, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Scissors? Pointy, Pinking shears or round toddler type?
Theresa February 05, 2013 at 04:25 AM
I watched 8 hours of the hearing (yawn) and had some good friends who went. For every 1 person talking about more stringent legislation there were 2 advocating for common sense legislation and the right to bear arms.
Theresa February 05, 2013 at 04:32 AM
I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS for multiple reasons: New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford.

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