Ste­fanowski mum on gun con­trol, but an­swer is clear

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - More Opinion - Lim­ited KEN DIXON Ken Dixon, po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor and colum­nist, can be reached at 203-842-2547 or at kdixon@ct­ Visit him at twit­ and on Face­book at kendixonct.hearst.

How­ever per­ceived or ar­tic­u­lated, the dis­like many state vot­ers har­bor for Gov. Dan Mal­loy could be the re­sult of sev­eral things.

For starters, he’s a knowit-all worka­holic whose col­lab­o­ra­tions with state leg­is­la­tors were ... ah ...

over these eight years.

But one thing that even those vaguely aware of pub­lic pol­icy can’t be­grudge the gov­er­nor is the mon­u­men­tally sad, gutwrench­ing job he shoul­dered for Con­necti­cut on that deadly Fri­day morn­ing.

It was nearly six years ago when a pa­thetic, dis­turbed shut-in as­sas­si­nated his mother while she was sleep­ing, then drove to Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School to live out a twisted fan­tasy, mur­der­ing 20 first­graders and six ed­u­ca­tors with a mil­i­tary-style ri­fle be­fore killing him­self.

Hours later, in the grim, emo­tion-sat­u­rated at­mos­phere of the nearby fire­house, it was Mal­loy who an­nounced the re­al­ity to the fam­i­lies of the slaugh­tered, join­ing in their sor­row.

Soon there­after, within five months of the New­town mas­sacre, Mal­loy shamed — call it lob­by­ing or lead­er­ship, if you want — the Gen­eral As­sem­bly into adopt­ing some of the na­tion’s tough­est gun-safety mea­sures.

As­sault-style ri­fles are banned for sale or im­por­ta­tion. Same thing with mag­a­zines con­tain­ing more than 10 bul­lets. Crim­i­nal back­ground checks are re­quired for all firearm sales, even am­mu­ni­tion. The semi-au­to­matic, AR-15 type weapons al­ready in the pos­ses­sion of state res­i­dents had to be reg­is­tered.

This irked the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion to no end. To­day, vi­o­lent crime is way down and prison pop­u­la­tions are at his­toric lows.

Two of the three ma­jor can­di­dates for gov­er­nor, Demo­crat Ned La­mont and the un­af­fil­i­ated Oz Griebel, are happy to talk about this suc­cess and voice their sup­port for gun con­trol. Repub­li­can Bob Ste­fanowski, not so much.

He has the top “Aq” rat­ing from the NRA, the high­est grade an un­tested state can­di­date can get. Mark Boughton, the Dan­bury mayor who was the win­ner of the Repub­li­can en­dorse­ment at its May con­ven­tion took an “F.” So did Ned La­mont.

Ste­fanowksi doesn’t say much about his “Aq,” ex­cept to pledge sup­port for Sec­ond Amend­ment rights.

But Ste­fanowski filled out a de­tailed 24-ques­tion semi-se­cret quiz given him last spring by the NRA’s Po­lit­i­cal Vic­tory Fund. It’s tai­lored for Con­necti­cut.

“Con­sid­er­ing cur­rent Con­necti­cut firearm law,” one of the pre­lim­i­nary ques­tions asks, chang­ing to bold­face “do you sup­port any ad­di­tional re­stric­tive state leg­is­la­tion reg­u­lat­ing the sale, use or pos­ses­sion of firearms or am­mu­ni­tion? Do you sup­port state leg­is­la­tion ban­ning the man­u­fac­ture, pos­ses­sion, own­er­ship, pur­chase and/or trans­fer of any firearm?”

I sup­pose the an­swer they want is clear enough.

The NRA-PVF makes it even more ob­vi­ous fur­ther into the doc­u­ment, in a long, slanted ques­tion on the 2013 post-Sandy Hook law, lead­ing an ap­pli­cant to agree that more money should go into “fix­ing the bro­ken men­tal-health sys­tem” and less into reg­u­la­tion. The first of three re­sponses is to sup­port re­peal of the law.

An Amer­i­can hero was at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut the other day, and he had a lot to say about the NRA. James Comey, the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor who would not pledge per­sonal loy­alty to the pres­i­dent, then was fired in May of last year, ap­peared on cam­pus for a 90-minute mono­logue and Q-and-A be­fore more than 2,000 stu­dents and fac­ulty.

He warned that the na­tional gun de­bate is be­ing used as a po­lit­i­cal tool. He re­called liv­ing in West­port, where he was le­gal coun­sel for a hedge fund at the time of the Sandy Hook School mas­sacre. He said there re­main many im­ped­i­ments for law en­force­ment, health care and ed­u­ca­tors to work to­gether on the is­sue.

“We are sold fear on a reg­u­lar ba­sis that in­ca­pac­i­tates our pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion,” said Comey, re­call­ing the fed­eral back­ground­check sys­tem run by the FBI. The largest sin­gle­monthly sale of firearms came right after Sandy Hook, he re­called. “Fear re­sulted. ‘They’re com­ing to take your guns. They’re com­ing to take your guns.’ ”

The Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States as­sures law­ful own­er­ship, he stressed. “The peo­ple who sell us fear don’t want us to think of it that way,” Comey said. “Trump’s been very bad for busi­ness, in a way. ‘Trump is com­ing to take your guns’ doesn’t sound as good as ‘Obama is com­ing to take your guns.’ Noth­ing sells quite like fear.”

So, since Ste­fanowski won’t de­tail his po­si­tions on guns, and many other things be­sides the claim that he would run the state like a busi­ness, let’s say it’s safe to hy­poth­e­size that he would give the NRA what they want.

Au­tumn Driscoll / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

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