Sen. Andres Ayala Jr., D-Bridgeport and Sen. Gayle S. Slossberg, D-Milford, said the historic legislation that is about to hit the Senate floor will help identify disturbed young men who are most likely to commit violence. Ayala, a city educator, said that in additional, the planned gun offender registry will help police keep track of convicted violent felons. And increasing the penalties for gun trafficking should help keep the handguns that are the more-common urban weapon, off city streets.
“If addressed correctly we can try to catch a lot of that within the school system, within areas where we can prevent any other future tragedy within the scale of the Newtown tragedy, but also maybe even some of the smaller gun-violence crimes we see in our urban centers,” Ayala said. “A lot of those instances are the result of mental-health issues as well. Our schools are sort of the catch-all. We need the resources. I think teachers are able to identify the students who need the additional supports, but we know that in a place like Bridgeport, we don’t have enough school psychiatrists, we don’t have enough social workers.”
Slossberg, who like Ayala, was interviewed outside the Senate chamber a few minutes ago: “It’s a good bill. I am very proud that it is bipartisan. I am most particularly proud on the work we are doing in the mental health issue. After significant hearings, we recognized that there’s a real lack of services for people with mental health issues, in particularly in the private sector and for young people aged 16 to 26. And we know that’s really the population here that we’re talking about as we come together in the wake of the unfrotunate tragedy in Newtown; that we understand that this is a very difficult population and we recognize that there are no services for them, it’s very limited. Insurance doesn’t pay for it. even if people have commercial insurance, there are big gaps. We will be looking forward in the future toward closing those gaps, making sure there is a system to address the mental health needs of all of our residents, but in particular those young people who are disconnected, who have no place to go, who are isolated and who have significant behavior health needs that are not being addressed and families who are trying to help those young adults and they have no place to go. This bill really tackles that in a way that no other state has done.”