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SENSIBLE GUN LEGISLATION – GREENWICH’S PROGRESSIVE TRADITION

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It’s been nearly two weeks since the “March for Change,” when an estimated 5,500 men, women and children rallied on the north steps of Connecticut’s Capitol building to mark the two-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre with demands for safer gun laws.

Many state legislators made an appearance at that February 14 rally in a show of support for stricter gun regulation, their names periodically announced to the crowd. But as some Greenwich rally participants noted, there was not a single Greenwich legislator among them.

Yes, Greenwich legislators had other commitments as well as time conflicts. For instance, Senator Scott Frantz later responded to some constituents who contacted him that he was testifying on a bill he had introduced regarding violent video games. Representative Livvy Floren, who happily has a consistent “F” rating from the NRA, let me know ahead of time that she was out of the state that week on a family matter.

All our Greenwich legislators express general concern for promoting gun safety and taking steps to prevent another Sandy Hook and hope for legislation that will have bi-artisan support. Senator Frantz serves on the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.

But while we wait for this bipartisan legislative task force to present its specific proposals – hopefully we don’t have to wait much longer – our Greenwich legislators have not come out with strong individual support for the specific proposals gun safety advocates call for, taking more of a wait-and-see stance than a pro-active leadership role.

This is in contrast to many other legislators who have already taken strong positions in favor of specific stricter regulatory measures in advance of the proposals yet to come from the bipartisan task force. And Governor Dannel P. Malloy  has come out with his own strong proposals even in advance of the task force he appointed (separate from the legislative task force).

Malloy, who spoke at the rally, was joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen, and Secretary of State Denise Merrill in forceful support of  the specific stricter regulatory measures that rally participants are calling for.

Such measures include a ban on clips with more than 10 bullets; extending Connecticut’s assault weapons ban to all military-style weapons including the type of semi-automatic weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre; mandatory registration of all guns on a regular basis; universal background checks; and limitations on the frequency and quantity of  handgun purchases.

Let’s hope “bipartisan” really means bipartisan and that there’s not a party line split developing over one or more of these measures, particularly with regard to expanding the existing ban on assault weapons to include semi-automatic weapons that are not now included.

It would be good to hear our Greenwich legislators speak out with strong voices in favor of an expanded assault weapons ban. That would be in keeping with tradition.

Historically, our Greenwich legislators have been progressive when it comes to gun legislation, and specifically an assault weapons ban. In 1993, Connecticut was the third state to adopt such a ban, even before the federal government adopted the 1994 assault weapons ban.

And all four members of the Greenwich delegation – Senator William Nickerson, Representatives Marilyn Hess, Janet Lockton and Dolly Powers – voted for the ban. The measure passed the state house on June 6, 1993 by a vote of 83-63, with 5 members absent and not voting. The senate vote two days later was 18-18, with Lieutenant Governor Eunice Groark casting the tie breaking vote in favor.

The votes weren’t along party lines, as hopefully they won’t be now two decades later.

Let’s hope that this year Connecticut will again be a leader in passing sensible gun legislation and that our Greenwich legislators will again vote in a progressive manner, as has been the Greenwich legislative tradition when it comes to gun safety.

Categories: General

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3 Responses

  1. Kevin Merz says:

    You say in today’s Greenwich Time that guns kill people. If that is so, how does anyone ever come out of a gun show alive…?

  2. Jonathan Perloe says:

    Gun owners, law-abiding as the vast majority no doubt are, should be subject to registration for the same reason that car owners are subject to licensing and registration and safety checks — to help protect public safety. While the Supreme Court recognizes a constitutional right to own firearms, it was very clear that that right does not come without restrictions.

    And while improving access to mental health is important, the same argument used to block common sense gun regulation — that most gun owners are law abiding — is also true of people with mental health issues: the vast majority of them are not a danger to themselves or the public. But no one solution is going to reduce gun violence in the U.S. So common sense gun regulation has to be part of the answer. And considering the huge cost to society (30,000 DEATHS every year), taxing gun ownership and ammo purchases is also entirely reasonable, just like taxing cigarettes because they have a cost to society. With rights come responsibilities.

  3. bruce wernert says:

    There are thousands of law abiding citizens that have guns for many reasons, sport, competition, hobby, collectors and security just to name a few. Why should they be subject to “mandatory registration of all guns on a regular basis”? this is just another tax under the banner of gun control. Lawful citizens register guns and are extremely safe with their firearms no matter how many rounds are in clips. Further, we already have background checks and they work.
    Perhaps the issue of mental health should be part of the “bipartisan” committees priority! It seems to me that every time we have a tragedy it involves someone that is mentally unstable. Perhaps recognizing, helping and protecting these unfortunate people should be eveyones focus.