Ending Gun Violence for All

Patch Back's Lisa Bigelow wonders, will the results of Connecticut's gun control legislative efforts help all of our citizens, or just some?


The bipartisan task force on gun violence held a public hearing on Monday in Hartford during which Newtown victims’ family members, gun rights advocates, members of the public and elected representatives testified on upcoming legislation. 

The testimony was sobering. And it revealed an audience of constituents tired of violence, frustrated with the slow pace of legislative change and deeply, deeply divided over the rights of citizens to own (or not to own) assault-style weapons.

As I watched, what struck me most were not the heartbreaking words of the victims. It wasn’t the guarded words of the gun club member or the angry words of the control advocate.

Instead, it was the gentlemen from the high populations centers who deal with the slow, bloody drain of handgun violence every single day. They said, where have you been, Bipartisan Task Force? We’ve been begging for help for years.

They rightly stated that these current efforts, though certainly well intended, won’t do a thing to help victims of violence in the communities of Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. Therefore, I will repeat what needs repeating: any gun control legislation must address more than what is versus what isn’t an “assault” weapon.

It must be about more than just magazine capacity, too. It must even be about more than figuring out a way to incorporate better psychological care into our current health system. Instead, let us strive to end gun violence in all its forms so that our friends in urban areas win the same right to safety that those in quieter locales usually enjoy.

Alert: I’m going to ask the question that no one in the media seems to be asking. Many of you will disagree. And for once, I truly hope you do. And I not only hope you disagree, I hope you write in and tell me why I’m wrong (respectfully, of course … I didn’t enjoy being called a “stupid” “leftist” last week, even though my kids got a huge kick out of it).

Although many gun violence statistics can be twisted to suit a variety of needs the data on urban areas with high crime rates are clear: the victims are most often minorities. These minority victims are far outnumber the victims of mass shootings, who tend to be white. To me, it is disappointingly clear that the nationwide effort to “do something” about guns has everything to do with affluence and its favorite cousin, race.

Tell me, where are the marches when young children are murdered on the streets of Chicago, or New Haven, or Washington, or Detroit? Let me be clear: I do not question for one moment the sincerity or intent of the folks from March for Change or CAGV or hell, even the NRA. When an event such as Newtown occurs in our own backyard it is only natural that the local response should be strong and heartfelt and pure.

But I do have serious questions about the value we as a society place on human life. Or, at the very least, I question the validity of developing a legislative response to a societal threat that is directly proportional to the consequences of one action, as occurred in Newtown, versus developing a legislative response to what occurs every day to people of all colors.

Let’s work together to make all forms of violence end, as one reader so aptly wrote to me several days ago. Let’s help our legislators craft a bill that will regulate private gun sales so common criminals can’t get them easily. Let’s make universal background checks strict and repeating. Let’s develop and enforce safe storage laws and train administrators and teachers in effective self defense tactics.

Most of all, let us remember the words written in the hearts of every American: all men are created equal.

Lisa Bigelow January 29, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Sean, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with much of what you say. Lisa
Todd Fox January 29, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I don't believe that racism is the reason there are so few outpourings of public outrage against crimes of violence in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. In fact, I think it's the reverse. How can we express outrage without mentioning that crimes of violence are so disproportionately committed by black people on other black people? And that our national statistics on murder are nearly doubled as the result of ethnic gang crime in the cities? To even bring this up opens the door to charges of racism. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011 there were 279,384 black murder victims. 94 percent of these murder victims were killed by people of their own ethnicity. Even though blacks make-up only 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. I don't know how to express outrage and compassion for the innocent victims of violence in our cities without a very challenging discussion on race. Do you?
Sean M January 29, 2013 at 05:15 PM
The problem with black on black violence is not because people are black, it is because they are poor. The economics are the problem, not the demographics. Inner city run government schools are a failure. We start the turnaround by letting the engaged parents decide where the academic money is spent. This will be a direct threat to the teacher's union bosses. Given the Democrats obedience to them, as long as they are in charge, forget about it. I look at my friends who are black and grew up poor. They have a completely different outlook on life than the "Obama phone voter". Poor people of all races and creeds need to learn the skills needed to be self-reliant. Then you talk about teaching our girls that having kids out of wedlock in your teens is not acceptable and they must have enough self-respect to avoid this lifestyle. If people wait until they are married to have kids, over 21 when they do so, graduate from high school, and have a job, their likelihood of poverty is minimal. These are some of the causes of poverty and thus crime. But then again, it is easier to blame an AR-15.
Erik Musick January 29, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Todd, If you bring up the stats that black on black crime is what it is, you will be vilified as a racist. Hence, many people tend to shy away from it. However, it is a fact that gun violence is done with illegal guns in the hands of urbanites, moreso than in the hands of ruralites. My solution: stay out of heavily-populated areas and stick to the farm communities.
Voice of Reason January 29, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Economics and negative changes in culture. Life is cheap in these locales. Children don't say "When I grow up I want to be...." they say "If I grow up I want to be.....". They are so used to young violent deaths they have no expectations to life. This is perhaps the saddest of all realities. In the wake of increased talks of "Gun Violence" I've countered with the question, "What of overall violence?". Why are people compelled to view violent crime and violent behavior only within the context of one tool used; the gun? Furthermore, this specific tool ("Assault Rifle" as of recent) is used for a portion of a percentage of overall murders. This is not to discount those deaths in any manner, I consider all deaths due to violence as a tragedy. But why is this the focus? Why are people not looking at the bigger picture and what can be done that would have a greater overall impact? As race has been brought up up above I pose the question, what is more racist? Discussing FBI statistics that indicate black on black violence within certain locales accounts for the majority of incidents or only being compelled to become an anti-gun activist due to a horrific crime in an affluent, primarily white community? If we want to make a meaningful impact in reducing violent crime we need to address the problems with drugs and violence thereof and we must bring jobs back to the US. This is not the easy way out though. As both sides agree, gun laws won't impact criminals.


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