FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CONN. -- The Daily Voice accepts signed and original letters to the editor up to 350 words. To submit your letter, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
(Editor's note: U.S. Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut walked off of the House floor as Speaker Paul Ryan called for a moment of silence Monday to honor the Orlando shooting victims. Later, Himes explained his actions, saying that empty gestures will not end gun violence, only changing policy will.)
To the editor:
This week my opponent for the 2016 CT4 Congressional race, incumbent Jim Himes (D), refused to observe a moment of silence on the House floor for the victims of the Orlando attacks, calling it “unconscionable” and adding that “Our silence does not honor the victims, it mocks them.”
Himes’ histrionics are not only inappropriate, his current refusal to pause for a moment of silence stands in stark contrast to his eight years of silence on the broader issue.
The primary source of gun violence in our state and in our nation’s cities is the illegal shipment of firearms across state lines. This is, first and foremost, a federal job and always has been. Yet our federal representatives have done little to address the problem, save perhaps for pithy policy statements and the occasional photo op.
Following the Newtown attacks in 2012, I and others in the Connecticut General Assembly supported a bipartisan “gun bill” that, while imperfect, included enhancements to background checks, mental health screening and school security funding, along with certain gun and device restrictions.
Central in this effort was, for me at least, the resumption of funding to the nearly defunct Connecticut Firearms Trafficking Task Force to work alongside federal authorities to thwart illegal gun trafficking. In fact, I filed a bill in 2014 seeking to increase the task force’s funding five-fold.
Sadly, the fiscal collapse of Connecticut’s state finances -- caused by the mismanagement of our resources in DC and Hartford -- has led to massive funding cuts to this same task force and the same mental health screening and school security programs we just created.
Just when stronger state and federal coordination on illegal trafficking (and background checks) is needed, our state’s bad fiscal policies have once again led to poor public policy.
Himes’ historical position on the collapse of our state finances and related gun violence measures -- silence.
At the same time, the federal government’s efforts on illegal gun trafficking has vacillated between mediocre and illusory. Statistics show that the problem has actually worsened.
Himes’ historical position on the federal government’s failure to curtail illegal gun trafficking -- more silence.
We must devote the resources needed to stop trafficking because it is the central cause of gun violence.
A prompt and pragmatic state and federal effort will help solve these problems, “taking (a) stand on these moments of silence” will not.
Shaban, a Republican state representative for the 135th District, which includes Redding, Easton and Weston, is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Jim Himes in the 4th District.