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.