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Seeking Common Ground on Gun Violence Legislation

Are legislators moving too fast? Too slow? Proposals going too far, or not far enough? A Newtown Action Alliance meeting provides an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and concerns.


The speed with which state legislators should move to enact new laws in response to the school shooting in Newtown emerged as a central theme of a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

Hit the brakes, some said. Put it in high gear, others encouraged the six legislators sitting on a panel organized by Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots group pushing for legislative change. The legislators all are members of , which was created to come up with legislative proposals that will help prevent another tragedy like the one on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook School.

In what state Sen. John McKinney, R-28, called “a very ambitious goal,” the task force had anticipated that each subcommittee — divided by the three issues in its name — would come up with proposals by Feb. 15, and then all 50 members would present a final package of proposals by Feb. 27. The School Security Subcommittee put forth its recommendations on Feb. 19, McKinney said, and the other two are forthcoming.

“I think we all agree our goal is to get it right, not done by the deadline,” he said.

Still, a handful of residents called for the task force to slow down. “Things are moving far too quickly,” Newtown resident Liam Heller said to light applause among the crowd of about 100 people, mostly from town.

Encouraging legislators to wait until an official police report is released, documenting the circumstances that led 20-year-old Adam Lanza to open fire at the school on that December morning, Heller said, “What we’re hearing in the media isn’t true.”

McKinney countered that, while a complete report is not yet available, the information provided by Connecticut State Police to date is factual. “He’s not lying,” McKinney said of state police Lt. J. Paul Vance, “when he comes out and says it was the gun used,” referring to an AR-15. “It was the gun used.”

“We have to deal with fact,” added state Rep. Larry Cafero, R-142.

The AR-15 was one of the weapons Lanza had taken from his mother, Nancy Lanza, after he shot and killed her in their Newtown home, police said. A handgun was another, and that was the weapon that Lanza, who reportedly suffered from some degree of mental health issues, used to kill himself.

Heller was not alone in asking for legislators to take their time. One woman from Sandy Hook said, “We really need to slow down.”

Sheila Matthews, a representative of the mental health nonprofit AbleChild.Org, said, “There is definitely a push to force legislation down our throats.”

According to Matthews, the focus on gun laws and school security was a diversion from the real issue at the core of it all — mental health — and what she argued are scientifically and statistically backed reports, kept from the public, that reveal a direct correlation between prescription drugs and violence and suicide, particularly among children.

“This is a diversion. This is a complete diversion,” she said. “Slow it down.”

As Matthews continued to go on, residents in the audience, legislators and members of Newtown Action Alliance told her to wrap it up and sit down. “Search your souls,” she told the legislators.

‘Please Don’t Slow Down’

For every person asking legislators not to rush, there were those who encouraged them to keep up the pace.

Paul D’Agostino, a self-described Newtown dad, was one. “Please don’t slow down,” he said to applause.

Legislation is simply a means to an end and is not the ultimate goal, he said. “They’re outcomes we’re trying to effect,” he told the legislators.

D’Agostino then suggested the task force think about the longer term — five to 10 years out — and create some sort of enduring body that would be charged with reviewing any newly created legislation to track its progress and mitigate any unintended consequences. “I hate to see it be a one-and-done situation,” he said.

Cafero, a 20-year legislator, said the task force has not discussed that possibility yet. He explained that legislators are constantly reviewing the performance of bills, but priorities often shift with each session.

Another father, Darren Wagner of Sandy Hook, said, “Please continue at your pace.”

Wagner, who said he left a career in law enforcement after suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), added, “I want action. It’s not too soon.”

In response to the competing timelines from residents, Po Murray, the co-chair of Newtown Action Alliance, told Patch after the meeting, “I think there are more of us that want action.”

State Rep. Dan Carter, R-2, said, “We’re trying our very best not to ramrod this through.”

Bill C February 22, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Why rush it through? If they take their time and consider the legislation, they would realize the main problem is Connecticut's dismal mental health system. The public may discover that the legislature failed them when they killed SB452 last year. They actually had the opportunity to prevent the atrocity, but let it slip away at the alter of progressive policy. We cant have that. If they work on the mental health crisis, they might actually make Connecticut safer. Then what would they do? They solve the problem and not achieve their gun ban agenda. Malloy realizes that so he wants to blow up the bipartisan commission and attempt to out ban Cuomo. You really cant blame him. He has to divert attention from his absolute failure on the budget and the economy after his great tax increase. These government types don’t care about us or our children. They only want power and see themselves a our superiors. They want their ban, they don’t care if it makes us safer. They will just push more restrictive policies after this law proves to be a failure.
Donald Borsch Jr. February 22, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Preach it, Bill C! Amen brother! I wonder how Malloy can feign indignation at lack of funding for gun control when he cut 250K from the budget directly affecting the ability to perform background checks. *facepalm* http://articles.courant.com/2013-02-18/news/hc-gun-background-checks-0219-20130218_1_background-checks-backgrounds-of-gun-purchasers-gun-safety
Sanchez February 22, 2013 at 04:40 PM
"Are legislators moving too fast? " When NY passes and Cuomo signs a bill that did not exempt law enforcement from the 7 round mag ban ya think they acted too fast? When they pas bill and do not read bill yes they act too fast. Has anyone ever sen the NY legislooters act that fast on ANY bill's passage?
Sanchez February 22, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Your not kidding in one aspect. Those people the Chicago government WANTS to disarm HAVE been disarmed. Even after McDonald they are still disarmed.
Sanchez February 22, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Here is my proposal for new firearm laws. The possession alone of a firearm in the commission of any other crime will be 15 to 20 years, no good time credits, no parole and served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. The DISCHARGE of a firearm in the commission of any other crime will be 30 years, no good time credits, no parole and served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. This will not effect one law abiding firearm owner. It will only effect those firearm owners who use their firearms in a crime.
Thomas Paine February 22, 2013 at 08:57 PM
http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/senators-murphy-and-blumenthal-admit-black-rifle-bans-are-unlikely-anytime-soon-if-ever
Thomas Paine February 22, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Ah AZ , I was beginning to miss your voice of reason. But once again you are incorrect, becau you put forth a premise that a gun ban can none "complete". There is NO evidence that gun confiscation schemes work. Even the much lauded Australian plan was actually a dismal failure. In a country with a concentrated, mostly urban population and an 8% gun ownership rate, only 25% of guns were turned I or registered as required by their ban. Sure, they have not had a mass killing there since (btw, only 10 on record ever in the country) but their general homicide rate is unchanged. That with a "complete ban" as you call for in a smaller country with a lower gun ownership rate and a more concentrated populace. Oh, and with no pesky state and federal constitutional right to own arms to interfere with their law. Sorry, but statistically, the most effective form of reducing gun crime, injury and death would be to 1) get guns out of the hands of criminals and 2) get mental health for those who are potentially suicidal. You know, because suicide is the #1 cause of gun-related death in the USA (~62%) as well as CT (~55%). Missed ya AZ!
Thomas Paine February 22, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Darned iPad! "... gun ban can be "complete". "
Edmund Burke February 22, 2013 at 11:38 PM
AZ, Are you going to volunteer to take those guns away from Patriots?
Thomas Paine February 22, 2013 at 11:55 PM
AZ, I hope you have quite a few big, brave and like-minded friends all of whom have good health insurance.
Boggs February 23, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Patriots like these guys? http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/08/11601679-white-supremacists-accused-of-planning-for-race-war-in-florida?lite
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 12:41 AM
The issue is very very complicated. To offer such a simplistic solution shows you cannot fathom the depth of it at all.
Edmund Burke February 23, 2013 at 12:44 AM
AZ, LOL I don't doubt your willingness, I doubt your ability.
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Boggs, what was the purpose of your posting? To link everyone you oppose as the same kind of people? Are we to live like that? Making such huge assumptions? Are we to connect you and all civil right deniers to these convicted domestic terrorists Occupiers? "5 anarchists nabbed in plot to blow up Ohio bridge" http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/01/11485641-5-anarchists-nabbed-in-plot-to-blow-up-ohio-bridge?lite
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 12:46 AM
AZ will never be willingly taking anything much less firearms from anyone else. If he does he is the thug breaking the law to harm others. Seems he has no compunction in doing just that.
Donald Borsch Jr. February 23, 2013 at 01:56 AM
AZ, I name you coward. Blowhard. Internet tough-girl. Full of bravado and bluster only given through anonymity. You're just another LOL! waiting to happen.
Thomas Paine February 23, 2013 at 01:19 PM
AZ, that is a bit extreme. Civil disobedience does not need to be violent: http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/would-new-gun-laws-spark-widespread-civil-disobedience
Edmund Burke February 23, 2013 at 01:23 PM
AZ, You will need to repeal to the 2nd A first. Good luck with that.
Donald Borsch Jr. February 23, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Gentlemen, Ignore AZ. She is not here to engage in dialogue, nor is she here to discuss our Second Amendment. She exists simply to troll Patch and make a fool of herself.
Concerned Parent & Gun Owner February 23, 2013 at 02:08 PM
WAIT! WHAT? AZ is a SHE? NO! I had long assumed AZ was some bespeckled nerdy guy sitting in "his" parents' basement apartment trolling the internet looking for evil conservatives to torment. That assumption proven wrong, I may have to reconsider all my stances and prior assumptions. Like thinking all internet trolls were nerdy males. This is too much for me to absorb at one time. I have to go to the local range and kill some paper targets to help me focus. Should it be 22LR, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45ACP is the question? Molon labe AZ and bring lots of big, burly girls with you....
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Who is "we"?
Thomas Paine February 23, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Sanchez - I think the "we" might include AZ and the ladies from March for Change, Ron and Marty Isaac from CAGV, Himes, Malloy, Beth Bye and Looney - you know, the folks who believe in this so strongly that they will actually do something about it rather than just type, make phone calls and conjure legislation that is unenforceable. What always seems to be missed is that those who are going to have something physically taken away are always more strident than those whose ideas are being implemented. The former has real skin in the game and the latter are playing for another peg in their ideological score board.
Edmund Burke February 23, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Barrel envy.
Donald Borsch Jr. February 23, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Edmund, AZ is doing all she can to make a scene. In her emotionally-charged state of being, she has failed to spell "dialogue" correctly. Maybe she is coming unglued at the thought of rubbing a barrel or two, you know, in the privacy of her own home.
Roger Price February 23, 2013 at 06:22 PM
AZ you are brilliant!
Charlie February 23, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Why feed AZ and other trolls, degrading the dialogue and issue in the process? Ignore them. There is serious work to be done in the next few weeks if you wish to preserve your rights. You and those you know who support your rights should write your legislators now and repeatedly. If you are unaware of the organizations supporting your 2nd Amendment rights, and how you can best protect those rights in the legislature and, more likely, the courts, you'd best get informed quick. Patch is but one medium of many that need to be used to show the flaws in the proposed laws rather than banter with the trolls. Sorry to preach to the choir, but it's crunch time. Thomas and Donald - I've shared your posts with several outside groups who are surprised and pleased that CT has any such advocates. I encourage more sharing of links to your posts on newspaper posts, forums, etc. etc.
Donald Borsch Jr. February 23, 2013 at 09:22 PM
We Are The Second Amendment, indeed. I find it particularly unsettling that in 2013 we are forced to defend The Bill of Rights against the machinations of other Americans. http://wr2a.wordpress.com/
Donald Borsch Jr. February 26, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Charlie, Thank you for such kind affirmation! I try to do what I can. Your words have encouraged me even more, Charlie.
Professor Zwergel February 26, 2013 at 03:14 AM
You ever serve in the US military mr Rambo wannabe?
Bill C March 08, 2013 at 08:20 PM
No common ground here.... New post on CCDL Blog S.B. 1076, An act concerning gun violence…… has nothing to do with gun violence…… by Chris This is a guest post by Jonathan Hardy who handles permit and legislative issues for CCDL. You can email him at permitissues@ccdl.us He also has his own website, and his own blog. First, I will preface this article with a serious call to order: WE MUST be at the legislature Thursday, March 14th. There is a public hearing for this bill and details can be found at the CT General Assembly website, or click here. I know many of us are planning to be at the legislature next week on various days, and the opposition is well aware of this fact. They want to break us down, let’s show them that we WILL NOT stand silent anymore. Let’s make them aware this is not a bill about gun violence, it’s about gun control – period. http://ccdl.us/blog/2013/03/08/sb1076/#more-781 http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/TOB/S/2013SB-01076-R00-SB.htm Sec. 32. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2013) (a) Every person in this state shall register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with sections 31 to 43, inclusive, of this act. Sec. 33. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2013) (a) On and after July 1, 2014, no person shall purchase or possess ammunition without having first obtained a registration card identifying a firearm suitable for use with that ammunition. Too much for this post....Its at the bottom of the bill. After definitions.

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