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Connecticut's Approach to Gun Legislation

Exhibit A on what not to do? New York. Here's why Patch Back's Lisa Bigelow thinks Connecticut has a good shot at getting high quality legislation.

 

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo inspired surprise, envy and more than a few feelings of dismay among activists nationwide when he promptly signed strict new gun control legislation into law in the immediate wake of the Newtown tragedy on Dec. 14. And although many gun control advocates here in the Nutmeg State have expressed interest in certain aspects of its law, such as the seven-round limit, the legislation itself has inspired protests and lawsuits from rights groups furious at its dead-of-night passing.

One might have expected Connecticut to act just as swiftly. Thankfully, we did not. Instead, our state government appears to be taking a measured, rational approach—the right move, I believe.

There are, of course, caveats.

The legislature’s Bipartisan Panel, founded at the beginning of the current term, plans to put forth its recommended legislation in February. But Governor Malloy’s own Sandy Hook Commission, comprised of independent non-elected experts, won’t make its own recommendations until March. Will the panel’s draft legislation and the Commission’s recommendations be at cross purposes? One hopes not, but only time will tell. 

My biggest suspicion—that the new legislation won’t do anything to address the bigger problem of handgun violence, which many experts (and readers of this column) acknowledge as a far bigger threat to public safety than scarier-looking semi-automatic long guns—is the second caveat.

Generally speaking, I am not the governor’s biggest supporter. With the Sandy Hook Commission, however, I think he had the right idea. Independent, varied, non-elected, non-partisan experts? Check. Enough time for legislators to review testimony and still pass sensible legislation by summer? Check. Appropriate distance between early February’s budget announcement, previously slated as the year’s "big issue," and the Commission’s recommendations, due in mid-March? Check, check.

Nevertheless, the powers that be in Hartford decided to do a hurry-up offense in the wake of New York’s headline splash from the ambitious Governor Cuomo, who stated he is “proud” to have passed the first new gun laws following Newtown.

Never mind that New York’s legislation was passed without opportunity for public comment, an egregious wrong. As a 19-year resident of upstate New York —and I mean real upstate New York, like Capital District, graduated-from-Plattsburgh, snows-in-May upstate New York—believe me when I tell you there are tons and tons of gun-loving conservatives and common-sense moderates north and west of the Taconic Parkway who would have appreciated the opportunity to share their views.

Never mind that New York forgot to exempt police officers from the magazine limit (oops!). Never mind the bill revokes public access to gun permit records and forces mental health professionals to report individuals who, in their opinions, represent a threat to themselves or society, a serious breach of commonly accepted doctor-patient confidentiality practices. And never mind that the legislation was basically passed in the middle of the night (remember Connecticut’s budget bill from 18 months ago?), confirming gun owners’ worst paranoid fears of unlawful persecution.

But I digress.

Although I have concerns about the role of the Bipartisan Panel versus the Commission and whether or not the Panel will rush to write legislation before the Sandy Hook Commission makes its recommendations public, all in all I must confess to feeling satisfied that our legislators are taking a balanced, thoughtful approach to this front-page, bold-type issue.

My friend in Hartford, State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), observed wisely that the Bipartisan Panel afforded Connecticut residents the opportunity to exercise their collective right to speak directly to legislators about Newtown in a highly personal way. (She also noted, as she always does when we speak, that government isn’t just government. It’s OUR government. And we should feel free to express ourselves personally on any issue, not just gun control!)

I asked Rep. Lavielle about the buzz in Hartford following the meetings. I assumed what happened in New York would be happening right here in Connecticut. I wondered, is certain legislation, such as a magazine limit, a foregone conclusion?

To my surprise and delight, she said no.

“People are really working hard to separate their own personal opinions from the process,” she said. In other words, our elected representatives are still fact-finding (yay!). They have not (yet, anyway) jumped to any rash conclusions (yes!). They are carefully balancing their constituents’ opinions with expert testimony (perfect!).

What a relief it is to know that with all the hype and hysteria surrounding the hearings that those who will ultimately vote on any new law are taking the time to learn the proper technology and terminology as well as the surrounding legal, health and economic issues.

Of course, the monkeys in the wrench are the timing of the draft legislation versus the Commission recommendations, as well as the budget announcement, due this week from Gov. Malloy. Whether or not enforcing the as-yet-unnamed legislation will require ample funding or will ultimately become an unfunded mandate remains to be seen. It’s going to be messy, to be sure.

On the plus side, at least we’re not New York.

***

Lisa Bigelow February 07, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Monique, Thanks for reading and writing in. What are your suggestions for change? Lisa B.
monique thomas February 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM
My thoughts on gun control and mental health of our children... Gun control-- Take the time to watch the video of the public comment presentation to the Los Angeles School District. at the end of the continued post. Keep Wi-Fi out of the schools...It is known to cause many symptoms including headache and behaviours that mimic ADD/ADHD, inability to focus, concentrate, memory loss. This can lead to a misdiagnosis and the child placed on unneccessary medication. As a society we are being exposed to more and more radio frequencies. 60 Hz, 902-928 Mhz, 2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz. From good old home electricity to cel towers maintaining communications with all our cel phones, to home routers operating all our laptop's, desktop's, WII's, video game's, tablet's, etc. internet connections, to SMART meters measuring our utility usage, to industrial uses in school classrooms to provide service to 20-30 wireless devices at a time in single classroom, to the local Starbucks, public library or even the local Lowe's that can now be a possibility. continued....
monique thomas February 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM
There are no studies done on children to assess the effects of 2.4Ghz RFs have on them to rule out with 100% certainty there is no cause for symptoms exhibited when exposed to high levels of Wi-Fi radiation in the classroom. Think about if one child is allergic to peanuts all of the precautions that are taken to ensure their safety! With all their small, developing bodies go through being exposed to the cumulative and additive penetrations it is time we take a look at this aspect of the equation when evaluating our mental health problems in children. Their bodies are like sponges not only for learning but also for the radiation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42UMWFV0MwE&feature=player_embedded
monique thomas February 16, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Children can become electro-hypersensitive (EHS) from all the exposures that they encounter day to day, 24/7/365. They may be medicated or not. The effects of the radio frequencies on cognitive ability is disconcerting. All of the voluntary and involuntary RF exposures can effect the judgement of a chid or young adult and would one snap? Hmmmm....
monique thomas February 16, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Obviously no one in our government is either capable or has the time on their hands to deal with the issue. Maybe an investigative journalist can find out where the sources of the problem are? Once the sources are identified then solutions can be had.

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