While politicians in Washington were holding a hearing on an assault weapon ban Wednesday morning, lawmakers and gun control activists in Hartford were focused on handguns.
“We can talk about long guns, AR-15, extended magazines. We can talk about all of that stuff and we should,” said state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven.
But Holder-Winfield and other urban lawmakers said the scourge of violence that unfolds almost daily in the state’s big cities, is committed by criminals with handguns, almost all of which were illegally obtained.
“The urban problem is a handgun problem for the most part,” Ron Pinciaro, director of Connecticut Against Handgun Violence, said at a press conference at the state Capitol complex. “It’s just as urgent…We need to address it with the same speed.”
The group is calling for a new law requiring handgun owners to renew their pistol permits each year. This would ensure that the legal owner of the gun is still in possession of the weapon. The group also backs restricting handgun purchases to one per month as a way to deter gun traffickers.
Kim Mozell, a New Haven resident whose 19-year-old son, Thomas Mozell Jr., was shot and killed last year, said she hopes the pain of parents such as herself will not be forgotten in the national debate over guns that was sparked by December’s mass shooting in Newtown.
“What happened in Newtown is just sad…but we have that happen every day in New Haven, Connecticut,” Mozell said. “This has been going on for decades. When is enough enough?”
Mozell was one of several family members of shooting victims who attended the press conference. They clutched large framed photographs of their lost children.
Also in attendance was Bridgeport police Chief Joe Gaudett, a resident of Newtown. Gaudett said Bridgeport averages about 25 homicides annually, the overwhelming majority committed with handguns.
Pinciaro said urban gun violence has been forgotten in the ongoing debate over guns. “Certainly the Newtown incident understandably has grabbed the spotlight as it has for the entire country,” he said, “but here is the problem that effects many people everyday…and [it] has not gotten enough attention in years past.”