‘In­ac­tion is un­ac­cept­able’

Law­mak­ers, ad­vo­cates rally for changes in gun laws

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jes­sica Lerner

NEW HAVEN — A crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 150 peo­ple gath­ered out­side the New Haven Po­lice Depart­ment Fri­day as U.S. Sens. Richard Blu­men­thal and Chris Mur­phy, along with U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, ad­dressed the is­sue of gun vi­o­lence and pro­posed leg­is­la­tion in wake of Sun­day’s mass shoot­ing in Las Ve­gas.

Against a back­drop of col­or­ful picket signs, the con­gres­sional del­e­gates and oth­ers signed their names and con­do­lences on a poster from the New­town Ac­tion Al­liance that will be sent to Las Ve­gas in a show of sup­port.

One of those peo­ple was Ni­cole Hock­ley of New­town, whose 6-year-old son Dy­lan died in the 2012 Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School shoot­ings. She said when she first heard the news of the Las Ve­gas shoot­ings it took her a very long time to get out of bed. “At that point there were only about 20 re­ported dead, and I just stayed in bed for about an hour and a half, just watch­ing the news re­ports and learn­ing more and cry­ing,” she said.

Fifty-nine peo­ple were killed in the Las Ve­gas shoot­ings, with more than 500 left wounded.

While she feels “im­mense frus­tra­tion and anger,” com­par­ing her­self to a “vol­cano about to erupt” on weeks like this, Hock­ley said she di­rects that en­ergy into mak­ing sure peo­ple know there are ac­tions they can take to pre­vent these things from hap­pen­ing.

“We will not ac­cept Las Ve­gas or any mass shoot­ing as nor­mal, nor will we ac­cept that gun vi­o­lence can­not be stopped. We can do some­thing. In­ac­tion is un­ac­cept­able,” said Blu­men­thal.

Mark Barden of New­town, who lost his 7-yearold son Daniel in the Sandy Hook shoot­ings, said he has no words to de­scribe what hap­pened in Las Ve­gas, only his ac­tions to make sure some­thing like that never hap­pens again. How­ever, he wishes change would come sooner.

Af­ter the New­town mas­sacre, New Haven Po­lice Chief An­thony Camp­bell be­lieved there would be sig­nif­i­cant gun leg­is­la­tion across the board, but five years later, noth­ing has re­ally changed.

“The re­al­ity is that ev­ery day in this coun­try lives are lost to un­nec­es­sary gun vi­o­lence. This city, the city of New Haven, is no stranger to that,” he said. “We have been fight­ing and ad­vo­cat­ing for re­al­is­tic gun laws that will help us in the law en­force­ment in­dus­try to en­sure that each and ev­ery­one of our ci­ti­zens are safe.

“No one is ask­ing for any im­ped­i­ments on someone’s con­sti­tu­tional rights,” he said. “What we’re ask­ing for is com­mon­sense leg­is­la­tion, so that sit­u­a­tions like what hap­pened in Las Ve­gas or what hap­pened in this state up at Sandy Hook can never hap­pen again.”

Con­necti­cut has the sec­ond-strong­est gun laws in the na­tion, and the fifthlow­est rate of gun deaths. “The data tells you only one thing: If you keep dan­ger­ous peo­ple from get­ting their hands on weapons and if you keep dan­ger­ous weapons out of the hands (of) civil­ians, you will save lives, less peo­ple will die,” Mur­phy said.

Marty Isaac of Trum­bell, board pres­i­dent of Con­necti­cut Against Gun Vi­o­lence, said, “there’s a long way to go.”

“This is a go­ing to be a crack; this is go­ing to be the first time we’re go­ing to get some leg­is­la­tion through in years and years and years,” Isaac said. “It’s hardly done, but we just need to be­gin to change.”

DeLauro, D-3, said even though the Amer­i­can peo­ple con­tinue to de­mand ac­tion and beg “us to stop the killing,” the con­gres­sional del­e­gates haven’t been able to vote on gun vi­o­lence leg­is­la­tion. She said of­fer­ing prayers and mo­ments of si­lence are no longer enough, be­liev­ing, “we would win over­whelm­ingly if these is­sues were brought for­ward.”

“What more in­for­ma­tion do we need?” she asked. “When we saw Sandy Hook, we said, ‘never again.’ Columbine, we said, ‘never again.’ Aurora, we said, ‘never again.’ San Bernardino, ‘never again.’ Or­lando, ‘never again.’ Las Ve­gas. How can we say, ‘never again,’ when it con­tin­ues to hap­pen over and over and over again?”

Mur­phy said they have to tried ev­ery tech­nique in their arse­nal, from stand­ing on the Se­nate floor for 15 hours to a 24-hour sit-in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Ul­ti­mately, he be­lieves no mat­ter how many good ideas they come up with, things won’t change in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., un­til the peo­ple in of­fice are afraid they are go­ing to lose an elec­tion if they con­tinue to vote against the wishes of their con­stituents.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion in­cludes a ban on bump stocks, an at­tach­ment that en­ables a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle to fire more quickly, which Stephen Pad­dock, the gun­man in the Las Ve­gas shoot­ings, used to mod­ify his ri­fles.

“Peo­ple in Las Ve­gas might well be alive to­day if bump stocks were il­le­gal and access were barred be­cause the shooter there was able mow down so many peo­ple with a ma­chine-gun-like weapon that he con­verted ... with the use of bump stock,” Blu­men­thal said.

He said the ban, not the reg­u­la­tion, of bump stocks is the least they can do, but it is still far from the most that they must do. Leg­is­la­tion was in­tro­duced Thurs­day that would re­peal the Pro­tec­tion of Law­ful Com­merce in Arms Act, a law which pro­tects firearm man­u­fac­tur­ers and deal­ers from be­ing held li­able when crimes have been com­mit­ted with their prod­ucts.

Other mea­sures that should be taken, ac­cord­ing to Blu­men­thal, in­clude a ban on as­sault weapons and high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines; a back­ground check; and elim­i­na­tion of a pro­vi­sion that al­lows any­body, even felons, to ob­tain a weapon if a back­ground check is not com­pleted within 72 hours. Dy­lann Roof, who killed mul­ti­ple parish­ioners in a church in South Carolina, ob­tained his weapon in such a fash­ion.

“‘No check, no gun,’ ought to be a prin­ci­pal ap­plied to all sales and back­ground checks should be ap­plied to ev­ery sale,” Blu­men­thal said. “We are mov­ing for­ward with a full agenda. The idea that we can’t do any­thing about gun vi­o­lence be­cause there are evil peo­ple or folks with men­tal ill­ness is ab­so­lutely false. The idea that we must be in­ert or in­ac­tive sim­ply be­cause some deaths will con­tinue. We can’t per­haps elim­i­nate all deaths but ev­ery life we save ... is a gift, and it is our obli­ga­tion to work to­ward this goal.”

De­spite the per­ceived op­po­si­tion from staunch sup­port­ers of the Sec­ond Amend­ment, Blu­men­thal de­scribed a per­son’s right to bear arms as the “law of the land,” re­it­er­at­ing that gun own­ers do have rights and the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is not try­ing to take away those rights.

Mur­phy said peo­ple some­times make the as­sump­tion that pro­po­nents of the Sec­ond Amend­ment are on the other side of the ar­gu­ment. In fact, he be­lieves gun vi­o­lence is a unique is­sue in which gun own­ers and non-gun own­ers are on the same team.

“I think in terms to en­act change, we need to en­gage a lot more peo­ple,” Hock­ley said. “That’s some­thing we ab­so­lutely need to do be­cause this is about sav­ing lives and pre­vent­ing death. This is not about whether or not you can own a gun. So we need to get past that to re­frame the de­bate to save lives.”

Mur­phy said he has yet to meet a sin­gle gun owner in the state who thinks au­to­matic weapons should be le­gal­ized, ex­plain­ing that gun own­ers of­ten are the most vo­cal sup­port­ers of the changes since they be­lieve in re­spon­si­ble gun own­er­ship, are law-abid­ing ci­ti­zens and want weapons that help them hunt, not weapons that help them kill peo­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to Mur­phy, the prob­lem is the gun in­dus­try . He said the gun in­dus­try doesn’t “want any of these re­stric­tions put on weapons sales be­cause they make the money off the re­ally dan­ger­ous weapons.”

“That’s why this vis­ual here, with hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered, de­mand­ing change, which is be­ing repli­cated in states all across this coun­try this week­end, is ul­ti­mately go­ing to make the dif­fer­ence,” he said. “It is go­ing to be the grow­ing anti-gun vi­o­lence move­ment, rep­re­sented here to­day by all of these groups, grow­ing stronger by the minute that are go­ing to force Congress to act and are ul­ti­mately go­ing to save peo­ple’s lives,” he said.

“When we saw Sandy Hook, we said, ‘never again.’ Columbine, we said, ‘never again.’ Aurora, we said, ‘never again.’ San Bernardino, ‘never again.’ Or­lando, ‘never again.’ Las Ve­gas. How can we say, ‘never again,’ when it con­tin­ues to hap­pen over and over and over again?” U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro

Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy , at podium, with Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day in front of the New Haven Po­lice Depart­ment.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, at lectern, Sen. Chris Mur­phy, third from right, and U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLau­ro­far right, are seen dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Fri­day in front of the New Haven Po­lice Depart­ment. Sec­ond from right is New Haven po­lice Lt. Herbert John­son.

Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

U.S. Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, at lectern, with Sen. Chris Mur­phy, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and oth­ers dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day in front of the New Haven Po­lice Depart­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.