Greenwich Lawmakers: Gun Control Needs To Be Bipartisan

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A panel of seven local lawmakers were asked to discuss the local implications of gun control and the responses made by local governing bodies.
A panel of seven local lawmakers were asked to discuss the local implications of gun control and the responses made by local governing bodies. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
State Rep. Gerald Fox (D-Stamford) answered one of many questions posed to himself, Rep. Jim Himes, State Sen. Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) and Mike Lawlor of the governors office.
State Rep. Gerald Fox (D-Stamford) answered one of many questions posed to himself, Rep. Jim Himes, State Sen. Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) and Mike Lawlor of the governors office. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
Norwalk Council member Anna Duleep questioned how gun buybacks could be made more productive and how to give people more of an incentive to take part in them. As well as where the guns go.
Norwalk Council member Anna Duleep questioned how gun buybacks could be made more productive and how to give people more of an incentive to take part in them. As well as where the guns go. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

WESTPORT, Conn. – Fairfield County lawmakers discussed Sunday the topic that they said puts all eyes on them during a gun control panel in Westport.

Most who attended the panel generally agreed that legislation has to be stricter on the state level.

“We talk about it all wrong. And I think each of us are at times, guilty of contributing to a less constructive, less respectful discussion on guns that we need to have if we’re going to reduce the amount of fear and emotion,” Democratic Rep. Jim Himes said.

The gun control issues is not about pro- or anti- gun, Himes said, it’s about safety and finding where to draw the line for the Second Amendment.

“All of our fundamental rights are modified and regulated for safety and decency,” Himes said. He spoke strongly about universal registration. He compared gun ownership to car ownership, in that people must be registered and licensed to drive. He questioned why gun ownership is so different, when it could be as deadly.

Several lawmakers commented that “All eyes are on Connecticut” and that the nation is waiting to see how the state responds to gun control after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The amount of bipartisan work being done by the Connecticut legislature on the gun control topic is unprecedented, said Mike Lawlor, Connecticut Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning.

“It’s time to put hard positions to the side, it’s time to put partisanship to the side,” said State Sen. John McKinney (R-Fairfield), Republican co-chair to the gun control task force. He said he was proud of the Connecticut legislature’s bipartisanship on the issue, adding that “we are not Washington.”

Being able to have level headed discussions about gun control and accept that people have different opinions is something State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) said allows for better sharing of knowledge and understanding. “This has really brought something out, I think, on the level of our communities that’s very positive,” she said.

The bipartisan efforts of both the State Senate and House are enabling the lawmakers to make positive steps to work on better legislation for the state, State. Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) said.

“If we don’t precisely right the first time, we can make it better over time,” he said of the legislature. But he added that they have done in recent years what was needed to reduce gun violence.

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Comments (25)

If weapons like the Bushmaster .223 were illegal, or if clips with more than 10 bullets were illegal, then more kids would have survived in Newtown. Also, parents need to be made aware of how to properly secure their weapons, and must be held accountable if they fail to do so.

Connecticut should also mandate background checks for all gun sales in the state, not just gun sales in stores. This has to be done on the national level too. This would help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed. It would also go a long way toward keeping women safe from abusive husbands or boyfriends:

"According to 2010 FBI data, firearms -- and specifically handguns -- are the most common weapons used to murder women. In the U.S., 64 percent of women who are murdered each year die at the hands of a family member or intimate partner. In situations involving domestic violence, having a gun in the home makes a woman eight times more likely to be killed." ...

Under federal law, individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense or who are subject to a domestic violence restraining order can’t legally buy or possess firearms. But an estimated 30 to 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check [at gun shows and through private sales], making thorough enforcement of the law all but impossible.

“Gun sellers have no way of knowing if someone is a domestic abuser unless there is a background check,” says Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's Legal Action Project. “This is a real problem.”

You said, "If weapons like the Bushmaster .223 were illegal, or if clips with more than 10 bullets were illegal, then more kids would have survived in Newtown."

That's an awfully bold statement that doesn't seem particularly well thought out. The Newtown massacre was carried out in school classrooms at near-point-blank range against defenseless small children. At that distance a rifle was not a well thought out choice (which makes sense, because this individual was obviously insane). At such close distances, handguns would have been a better tactical choice (just maneuvering around in a relatively small space with a long gun is tactically bad). And if Lanza had used a couple of handguns, even if they only had seven-round magazines - well, you can change a magazine in less than two seconds. Who on earth would have stopped him while he was changing them? The first-graders he was shooting? The adults were already dead from the first few shots.

This was a horrible tragedy involving someone who was mentally ill. It would not have been changed one iota by altering what weapons he used.

The place where it MIGHT make a difference is with the homeowner on a ranch somewhere trying to stave off multiple felons attempting a home invasion robbery where law enforcement is a long way away. THAT person needs a high-capacity magazine to hold his own. It's ridiculous to take it away from him because of a lunatic like Adam Lanza.

Write down the names of these grandstanding political hacks , and deal with them the next time they come up for election.

None of the various proposals put forth in NY, CA and now CT would have prevented the slaughters we've had to bear over the years. Criminals will not obey the laws and we all become more vulnerable to their whims.

Precisely, Adam. Such laws only guarantee one thing: that criminals will have weapons superior to their victims.

Many people in urban centers forget that there are plenty of rural locations where a police response is 45 minutes or more. Faced with two or more offenders attempting a home invasion robbery, the homeowner is at a potentially fatal disadvantage if they outgun him in such a place.

Ones party affiliation has nothing to do with being a killer.. Your post without question is the most absurd thing I have ever read. Also your information in false as party affiliation was never discussed with the names mentioned in your post. The only sites that have posted these lies are the far right wing blogs.

I'm not sure what part of my message you're replying to, since I don't believe I touched upon the issue you're raising.

Yeah, more gun laws! Chicago and its ghettos are the safest places on earth because of their strictest gun laws.

Let the stupidity continue. Yeah!

Gun safety laws do work, as a recent study clearly indicates. See link:

"States with the most restrictive laws, including Connecticut and California, have lower rates of gun-related deaths, while states with few limits on firearms have the highest rates. ... Connecticut had the fourth-strongest gun laws and was sixth-lowest in gun deaths, while Hawaii ranked fifth in gun control and had the lowest death rate."

Improving gun safety laws -- especially background checks on ALL sales of guns and ammo -- would reduce deaths even more, including in Chicago.

What I note is your inability to contribute anything substantive to the discussion. Snarky one-liners and insults only work within your own social sphere. If you want anyone to take you seriously you'll need some actual content.

The bottom line continues to be that banning categories of weapons only takes them out of the hands of the law-abiding, not the criminals, and therefore such laws only assure that the criminal element have weapons superior to their victims. This is borne out in the fact that crime rates go UP in communities with the strictest gun laws.

J.Locke - is that the best you can do? A "study" conducted by a gun control group? If you won't believe studies conducted by pro-Second-Amendment organizations, why would anyone accept one conducted by a group on the opposite side of the issue?

How about THIS reasearch, painstakingly conducted by well-known economist/researcher John Lott:

Very True
The only problem is that the guns at any cost wackos are so stupid they wont understand it.

Studies like this game their stats & only consider certain gun uses & completely ignore guns used in self defense. They also fail to consider the violent crime rate overall as if it doesn't matter if murders, rapes, robberies &u assaults go up, as long as they're not committed with guns.

All of the states rated as having stricter gun control laws have higher violent crime rates. Yes, that definitely a stat that CT should strive for.

As one of the parents of one of the children killed in Sandy Hook stated in his statement before the congressional sub committee recently;
(copy and paste) -

... gun laws have done nothing to stop mass murderers from getting guns and killing people. More gun laws will do the same. As he stated, the problem is not guns. The problem is within our society and it's values and it's culture. The fact that these mass murders have all been perpetrated by mentally/emotionally disturbed young men from our society is a symptom of our society. The fact that adolescent suicide has escalated to epidemic proportions over the past decades is a symptom of our society. ..... and the fact that our answer to the pain and disturbance within so many of the young people of our society is to put them on powerful psychotropic drugs to attempt to medicate their pain rather than resolve it, is also very much at the core of what is wrong with our society. ...

Whenever a response to unresolved pain is to further bury or medicate it away is present, ... you can be sure that that pain is going to re-emerge in a more severe form down the road, and we are seeing this taking place today more and more. ... Consider the fact that at least 90 percent of the perpetrators of these mass killings have at the time of the act, been taking psychiatric medication. There is significant and alarming evidence present to show that in many cases these drugs promote suicidal and or homicidal feelings in many who consume them. They are powerful and often dangerous drugs. There is a significant number of professionals from within the psychiatric profession as well as the pharmaceutical industry who have and are speaking out about the dangers of these drugs.

More gun control is not going to even begin to address the problem that our society faces here. It will only serve to further avoid addressing the root problem and as a result the root problem will continue to fester and worsen over time.

Murray, the right to bear arms takes a back seat to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The Supreme Court has ruled that Congress can make laws to regulate gun ownership for reasons of public safety.

Likewise, we have a First Amendment right to free speech, but we can't stand on a sidewalk outside someone's door at 1:00 a.m. shouting our political views, nor may we scream "fire!" in a crowded movie theater if there isn't one.

Gun makers mislead people to believe that Americans have the right to own whatever kind of guns they want, including assault weapons, and that's because gun makers want to sell a lot of guns. Once the market for hunting rifles started to decline, gun makers started looking at new ways to make money -- so selling to criminals, crazy people, and putting new kinds of assault weapons on the market was the answer. Unfortunately, what's good for the gun business is bad for public health, and so Congress has to step in and enact some common sense laws to increase public safety, just as they've done to improve automobile safety.

your comparison is 100 percent correct

Please explain your basis for this statement, i.e., how quiet possession of a firearm in private initiates the same kind of disturbance as yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater.

J.Locke - your First Amendment comparison is incorrect (frankly to the point of being absurd). I have heard it before, since it has become a liberal talking point. But the reason why it's wrong (however popular it may be) should be obvious:

Shouting our political views at someone's door at 1 AM causes a disturbance; in legal parlance it "causes inconvenvience, annoyance or alarm."

Yelling "fire" in a crowded public place causes panic which leads to an uncontrolled mass exodus directly leading to injuries or fatalities.

However, quiet possession of a weapon such as an AR-15 and multiple loaded 30-round magazines causes no disturbance, no panic, no injuries. Again: the ACT of yelling "fire" or shouting political slogans at someone's house late at night causes these things; quiet possession of a firearm, ammunition and accessories does not.

To have a situation with a firearm equivalent to your First Amendment example, the owner of the firearm would have to point it at somebody (already a crime) or wildly brandish it in public in a way likely to cause panic or public alarm (already a crime).

I encourage everyone reading this to make the same point with everyone who trots out this ridiculous "fire in a crowded theater" canard.

With rights come responsibilities, and although the differentiations your father made might have technical merit, I think you'd agree it isn't a fundamental right for a two year old to be playing with a loaded weapon, although he or she may have every constitutional "right" to.
Clearly it will be up to the individual states to find bipartisan solutions. Our national parties in Washington are mostly bought and paid for by the NRA lobbyists who just want to see more profligate gun saturation. Using their line of reasoning the solution to our drug crisis would be to make it easier to buy crack and heroin.
Contrary to the kool ade poured by the gun lobby, nobody is looking to take away any guns or destroy anyone's rights. We need common sense reforms in the laws currently on the books, enforcement of the regulations, and a willingness to make these weapons less available to the criminal elements. I'm happy that people like McKinney, Lavielle, and others will continue to work to make that happen.
It's unfortunate the politicians are the ones tasked with these efforts, since all those "responsible" gun owners don't want anything to do with cleaning up the mess they all helped to create.

Barnstorm - with rights do indeed come responsibilities, and we already have plenty of laws on the books to enforce them. What we do NOT need are laws the subdivide previously-legal firearms into politically-defined subcategories for the purpose of outlawing them. There lies a slippery slope, because in general, gun laws do nothing to prevent incidents like the Sandy Hook catastrophe.

Suppose Connecticut bans the AR-15 and >7 round magazines and the next horrific incident occurs with a shotgun. Shall we then ban shotguns? Suppose it is done with handguns. Shall we then ban handguns? Suppose it is done with weapons using seven-round magazines. Shall we thenceforth change the limit to three?

The UK went down this road, and what happened is that violent crime went UP. Why? Because when the criminals are guaranteed to have weapons superior to the law abiding citizen, they declare open season.

The assault of choice in England now is the stabbing. The result? It's now unlawful to be in public in England with a knife equipped with more than a 3" blade. And since that hasn't worked either they're now working on banning kitchen knives - even in one's own kitchen.

This is where these ridiculous "ban the weapon but don't address the root cause" legislative debacles lead us.

Conservatives have the common sense to realize that.

Why in the world don't liberals?

You say violent crime went up in England. While at face value that may be true...stabbings did go up, the number of fatalities went way down. It's one thing to post an NRA factbite, it's another thing entirely to see the truth behind the misleading statistic. Liberals have the sense to realize that, so why don't so-called "conservatives"?
"Conservatives" love to promote their fear-based "slippery slope" arguments when there is no logical or moral justification for doing so. It just feeds into their self-justified paranoia. Right-wing "news" sources like FOX and newsmax are always spreading fear and innuendo...and the masses just lap it up. The sky is always falling and there's a government agent behind every rock trying to take your rights away. Where was all this indignant righteousness when The Patriot Act was first passed? Oh yeah, that was a republican idea and therefore untouchable.
The gun laws on the books are indeed flawed and in need of being made realistic, but the LaPierrebots would have them disappear and have this country go back to Dodge City justice. Guns for everybody! More bullets! Yeah, we'd all be a lot safer with all that lead flying through the air from folks exercising their "rights".
Just look at today's news stories. A toddler killed because that pink handgun wasn't the toy they thought it was. Two handguns stolen from a house where the probably legal and registered owner was too stupid to lock the safe they were kept in. Two more illegal guns on the street, courtesy of a probably law-abiding second amendment adherent. Funny how I don't feel a damn bit safer.

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that I disagree with virtually everything you've said, but this in particular stood out:

"Just look at today's news stories. A toddler killed because that pink handgun wasn't the toy they thought it was. Two handguns stolen from a house where the probably legal and registered owner was too stupid to lock the safe they were kept in. Two more illegal guns on the street, courtesy of a probably law-abiding second amendment adherent."

What remedy are you proposing, exactly?

Beyond that - you make it sound as though the slippery-slope issue exists only in the imagination of conservatives but you do not say on what basis you make this claim. I provided both a logical illustration of the issue in this country and an example showing how the UK went from gun laws to gun bans to knife laws to knife bans and are now exploring the idea of reaching into kitchen drawers. These aren't fantasies. Why do you treat them as though they are (other than the fact that they don't support your position)?

You disagree with virtually everything I said. I said that crime went up (agreeing with your prima face position) but added that fatalities went down in Great Britian. Those are facts. You disagree with facts that don't support YOUR position, now who's the fool?
You took particular exception to two stories that were posted on the news (one of which was here on The Daily Voice!) Those were also facts. You asked what solution I was proposing.
I wasn't proposing any solution you knucklehead. I was merely pointing out how the current sickness in our society is running unabated. Another child dead and more illegal guns on the street due to the negligence of a gun owner. It is YOU that refuses to acknowledge a problem with this OR offer a solution. You're the one defending these jerks who can't own weapons responsibly. You're so wrapped up in knee-jerk idiocy you think England is now overrun with knife-wielding lunatics slashing at everyone they see.

Who's the one REALLY living in the fantasy world now bub?

If you don't want the governement regulating your guns fine. Then the burden of responsibility falls on those who support the profligate spread of these weapons. Make guns so widely available it will be easier for criminals to obtain them. And then you can also fail to realize you're one of the sick bastards contributing to these mass killings.

While disagreeing with you I still manage not to call you names like "fool" or "knucklehead." Why is it that the Left cannot seem to debate without namecalling?

And why the hyperbole like "You're so wrapped up in knee-jerk idiocy you think England is now overrun with knife-wielding lunatics slashing at everyone they see"? The thing is - I DON'T think that. I've visited the UK. It's lovely. The point is that there are people on the Left in the UK who obviously DO think that, because they're the ones banning guns, knives, and now trying to reach into kitchen drawers to ban kitchen implements.

You really do need to decide what your argument is. You attribute a lot of negative thinking to me and other conservatives, but WE are not the ones trying to restrict personal freedoms in a vain attempt to increase public safety.

You made one valid point in the above post: the fact that we are currently facing a societal sickness. But that sickness is not suffered or spread by lawful gun owners and it cannot be cured by diminishing their rights. The unprecedented numbers of people who are willing to kill others with little or not motive and who feel no remorse after doing so reflect a serious societal issue that must be addressed at the source. Banning guns, knives and anything else that could be used as a weapon doesn't fix it.

The reason I took particular exception to the stories you published is because they involve weapons that are not part of the current "assault weapons" proposed legislation. They're handguns. You won't be able to make those go away unless you're proposing a total gun ban, and that's why posting those stories was logically inconsistent. You say on the one hand that no one is proposing a total gun ban and then post stories involving guns that would only cease to be out there if such a ban were to be successfully implemented.

It would be nice if you offered a coherent, consistent, clear message so your stance could be identified. Sniping at others' posts and putting up articles that go all over the map isn't helpful to the public debate.

Interesting. I thought gun transfers in the state were all registered for at least the past 10 years. The way my father explained the difference between a gun and a car was that the gun was a right afforded to all at birth protected by the constitution. The right to drive a car on the highway was a privilege not given at birth under the constitution so you had to get governmental permission through a test.