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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.

Bill Hillman January 29, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Military Grade weapons are already prohibited from civilian use. Laws already exist that have failed to protect people because criminals don't care about the laws. Confiscation of property without compensation is a very serious curtailment of the "Takings Clause" of the 5th amendment. Coupled with recent executive orders and provisions of the NDAA, it's clear that mechanisms are put in place not to stop with products you deem "ok to take". As far as a "Messiah" goes, that's not my thing. in the 5th: "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation" none of the proposals to confiscate contain due process or compensation. So existing statutes already "protect our freedom to not be killed by military grade weapons" and that's with the 2nd amendment intact. It's a false argument to hold these are not mutually exclusive.
Jimmy Pursey January 29, 2013 at 08:08 PM
"Laws already exist that have failed to protect people because criminals don't care about the laws." I think that's an oversimplification, Bill. What you're failing to note is that many laws have an unintended result of creating a black market and enormous profits. As far as chipping away at the Constitution...we warned the Republicans Bush was setting a precedent...but they just called us "America haters" and told us to "move to France," "There oughta be limits to freedom." -GW Bush
Bill Hillman January 29, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Bush 2 was a huge spender, liberty destroyer and overall, ranks 2nd on my list of worst presidents, Carter is 3rd. The patriot act is anything but patriotic, he turned a surplus into a deficit that was accelerated after he left office. Knee-jerked laws have many unintended consequences, can we not learn from the past?
Jimmy Pursey January 29, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Hmm, something tells me Rutherford B Hayes ISN'T number one on that list, Bill. LOL
Bill Hillman January 29, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Mr. Shea, I viewed some of today's hearings regarding Mental Health. One speaker offered compelling testimony linking psychiatric pharmaceuticals to violence, and that most or all of the violence perpetrated at schools with firearms was kids on psychiatric medicines. Could they have found the root cause?

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