Gun Owners, Opponents Clash Sharply At Historic Hearing At State Capitol Complex; Pro-Gun Supporters Far Outnumber Gun Control Advocates

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gun control, Hartford Date:

More than 2,000 citizens descended upon the state Capitol on Monday to voice their often-emotional views in the wake of the shooting massacre last month at a Newtown elementary school that brought out national calls for gun control.

Some speakers called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-caliber ammunition magazines that allowed killer Adam Lanza of Newtown to shoot 20 children and six educators by firing at least 150 shots in a span of about six minutes.

The historic hearing, focusing on gun-control bills offered by legislators, lasted nearly 17 hours and finally ended at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Barbara Richardson of Sandy Hook, whose son attended the Sandy Hook Elementary School, said that cars and ladders are all regulated by the federal government in an attempt to keep the general public safe.

\”We need to ban or severely limit these types of weapons,\’\’ Richardson said of the guns, adding that the NRA has used research to try to weaken gun laws.

But multiple speakers countered that any gun control laws would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who have not broken the law. They said that criminals, like Lanza, have always disregarded the law and would continue to do so. They said that the Virginia Tech shooter did not use an assault weapon, and the Columbine High School killers committed their crimes during the federal assault weapon ban.

Based on the sheer numbers of speakers Monday, the pro-gun supporters far outnumbered those who are seeking gun control.

Overall, an estimated 1,400 citizens packed into the Capitol complex, spilling into overflow rooms where they watched the actual testimony from Room 2C – the largest hearing room in the building.

Some witnesses blamed Lanza and his mother, who owned the guns that he stole before heading to the Sandy Hook Elementary School on the morning of December 14, 2012.

\”The parents have to know their child and their behavior,\’\’ said Gregory J. Droniak, a 58-year-old lifetime member of the NRA from Derby. \”I\’m opposed to gun-free zones. Sandy Hook was a gun-free zone.\’\’

Tim Rockefeller of North Branford, an ex-Marine, said, \”I don\’t believe any law would stop a madman from killing his own mother.\’\’

Rockefeller said he was concerned that many of those testifying had been using the wrong terms, in his view.

\”The term \’assault weapon\’ is a political term, not a gun term,\’\’ Rockefeller told lawmakers. \”An assault weapon is a made-up term.\’\’

Like other speakers, Rockefeller received polite applause at the end of his testimony.

\”We need reasonable gun control in this country or guess what? It will happen again,\’\’ said an Episcopal bishop.

Lawmakers listened intently as they try to craft a legislative response to the Newtown shootings with some predicting that Monday\’s hearing could last past midnight. Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Greenwich Republican, noted that 90 bills have been offered so far in response to the shootings.

\”The General Assembly has to get this right,\’\’ Frantz said outside the hearing room.

The two co-founders of the March for Change mentioned that their group will be holding a large rally outside the state Capitol on Valentine\’s Day – February 14.

Nancy Lefkowitz, 42, of Fairfield, one of the co-founders of the March for Change, said that there has been a \”gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment\’\’ that has allowed citizens to purchase \”killing machines\’\’ that can allow shooters to mow down citizens in massacres in schools, movie theatres, and shopping malls.

The Newtown shootings, she said, \”turned thousands of residents of this state into single-issue voters.\’\’ She told legislators that her group will be watching closely on how they vote on the gun issues.

Meg Staunton, 48, of Fairfield, a fellow co-founder of the March for Change, told lawmakers in her brief testimony that the public opinion polls show that the general public wants gun control.

\”Why are people saying this legislation will be difficult or almost impossible to pass?\’\’ Staunton asked legislators. \”People will live or die based on how you decide to vote.\’\’

Southport Republican Alice E. Stokes, a gun-control supporter, said that every citizen has an inalienable right to life, calling for universal background checks for the sale of guns. The Second Amendment \”was never intended to supercede the right to life,\’\’ she said.

\”More guns do not make us safer,\’\’ said Stokes, 71. \”There were fewer mass-shooting casualties\’\’ during the federal assault weapon ban, saying that 56 people were killed during that 10-year period and 147 people have died in mass shootings since the assault ban ended in 2004.

\”Even well trained police officers in the line of duty only hit their targets 34 percent of the time,\’\’ Stokes said. \”So what percentage can ordinary citizens hit?\’\’

Another witness said that the percentage for accuracy for police was 28 percent.

Christopher Yen of Norwalk, a Harvard graduate who is now employed by a hedge fund in Connecticut, said the answers on gun control should come from common sense. He is opposed to any extension of the assault-weapons ban that had been enacted and has since expired.

\”These ideas have been tried before at the federal level from 1994 to 2004,\’\’ Yen said. \”Columbine, Connecticut lottery. … These laws don\’t work. They failed to save a single life. … Virginia Tech … these laws would have done nothing. … Ten-round magazine? Seven-round limit? Doesn\’t make a difference. … Your legislative efforts are better spent elsewhere.\’\’

Like others, his comments received a round of applause from gun supporters.

Daniel A. Novak, a 64-year-old Manchester Republican and gun permit-holder who was wearing a baseball cap with the letters NRA emblazoned in yellow, said he bought a Baretta .32-caliber that helped him to protect himself from \”road ragers and hooligans.\’\’ He said that his neighbors have guns, too, and he feels safe in his residential neighborhood. He said he pays about $4,000 per year in property taxes in Manchester and would not mind if some of the money was spent to pay police officers who would work in the elementary schools.

Stephen S. Wallace, a 70-year-old dental surgeon who lives one mile from the Cheshire home of the Petit family, said he uses the tools of his trade to perform successful dental surgery. In the same way, guns need to be used properly, he said. \”I\’m trained to use the tools I have effectively,\’\’ he said.

\”I\’m on the range three hours a week,\’\’ Wallace, a Democrat, said, adding that he has firearms next to his bed and under his bed. \”I have many guns. I use them all the time.\’\’

Michael Anderson of New Hartford said that he owns an AR-15 rifle \”to protect myself and my family\’\’ from any intruders or criminals. He described the AR-15 as a \”modern sporting rifle.\’\’

\”It is the tool, not the man,\’\’ Anderson told lawmakers at about 4:18 p.m. as lawmakers still had not finished the first page of speakers on the list.

Tom Parker, a Tolland resident, described a tale of watching the air conditioner in his home moving back and forth as two burglars were trying to break into his house. The problem was that the electrical power was out and he could not call the police. He then ran to get an aluminum baseball bat to confront the potential intruders.

\”I smacked the air conditioner,\’\’ Parker said. \”I heard some shuffling through that air conditioner. What I could see were two figures, slowing walking away from the house. … These proposed laws will only make me defenseless.\’\’

Cromwell resident John H. Barry, 59, said he and his wife both oppose all gun control laws except a provision for universal background checks on the purchase of weapons. He said that, decades ago, the general public could buy a submachine gun from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. He said he keeps a loaded gun, unlocked, in his house because of criminal acts in the neighborhood.

\”Why do we need so-called assault rifles in a civilized society?\’\’ Barry asked. \”Ex post facto. Please Google it. … Bullet tax. Only in Connecticut would a massacre result in a tax proposal.\’\’

Michael Schwabik, 43, of Cromwell said that Lanza killed his own mother and would not be stopped by any law that the legislature could pass in the future. A member of the Connecticut National Guard, he said there is \”a big difference\’\’ between rifles issued to members of the military and those that are available to the general public.

Lindy Urso, an attorney from the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, said that the committee should not act on the Newtown shootings until a final report is completed on the police investigation.

\”The Second Amendment has zero to do with hunting,\’\’ Urso said.

Scott Ennis, the founder of Disabled Americans for Firearms Rights, said he uses an AR-15 because it is easier to handle than other weapons.

Bill Stevens, 47, of Newtown said that the gun control laws that have been proposed by legislators are \”asinine.\’\’

\”These rights are inalienable and endowed by our Creator, not you politicians,\’\’ Stevens told lawmakers. \”If you want to take my rights away, let\’s go to court. … My guns are not dangerous. They are at home, locked up, collecting dust and cat hair. … Charlton Heston made the phrase \’from my cold dead hands\’ famous.\’\’

Southington resident Michael Leone, a Cub scout leader, an Eagle Scout, avid hunter and formerly nationally ranked competitive shooter, said that Connecticut already has among the toughest gun laws in the nation.

\”I ask that you not target me as you seek solutions to our violent society,\’\’ Leone said.

Raymond Mazza, a Farmington banker and auxiliary police officer, strongly opposed House Bill 5268 and Senate bills 124 and 161, saying that if any legislator who believes that limiting a magazine will make people safer, \”you are actually naive.\’\’

Criminals have access to black-market weapons and are often trying to buy drugs after committing crimes to get quick cash.

\”Where do you think criminals want to go? They want to go to gun-free zones,\’\’ he said. \”I believe plainclothes school resource officers are the answers.\’\’

Brooke Cheney of Harwinton said she opposes any legislation that harms law-abiding citizens without properly targeting the criminals.

\”We are caught up in an emotional frenzy,\’\’ Cheney told lawmakers. \”Both sides are making it worse. We are not listening to each other. … America is broken if our youth have no respect for the lives of others. I don\’t want to save just one life. I want to save thousands. … We must stop attacking each other. … We all want the same thing – an end to violence.\’\’

 Oxford resident Jeff Soracco, a legal gun-owner with a permit to carry, said, \”A criminal is a criminal. If they have it in their mind to do something, they will. … I oppose any knee-jerk reactions to change gun laws in Connecticut.\’\’

Former Special Forces member Chris Fields, who owns King 33 LLC in Southington at an abandoned Pratt & Whitney plant, says, \”I don\’t consider you subject-matter experts. … If you limit me to 10 rounds … and I can only take that gun with 10 rounds, I only have 10 rounds to save myself. … You\’re limiting me by passing these laws.\’\’

He said he has had seven deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan under Special Forces and private security. \”What you can do is hurt my business,\’\’ he said, adding that he has trained more than 100 people over the past four months.

Rich Burgess, president of a group called Connecticut Carry, said that disabled people need guns because they don\’t have another way to defend themselves.

\”Some people in this society cannot reload … as quickly as others,\’\’ Burgess told lawmakers. \”Don\’t let your political agendas, grandstanding and witchhunts hurt the people in society who count on us the most.\’\’

\”For the record, I came to talk to the whole task force – not the half of you who have been coming in and out all night,\’\’ said Michael Rapetski, a 22-year-old Republican from Cheshire. \”What we need are better mental health laws. … Connecticut is the Constitution state. We should abide by it and protect it.\’\’

Stuart W. Keating, Jr., a 69-year-old Democrat from Durham, said, \”How does liability insurance prevent gun violence? … I could list hundreds of slogans, facts, and stats on gun control. … All competitions will be held out of state.\’\’

After the committee\’s bell went off that publicly signifies that the witness should stop speaking, Keating said, \”I\’m hard of hearing.\’\’

\”You\’ve been doing too much shooting,\’\’ responded Rep. Craig Miner, a veteran Republican lawmaker and member of the legislature\’s sportsmen\’s caucus who serves as the co-chairman of the gun subcommittee.

When Miner asked him to summarize his thoughts, Keating said, \”It\’s a mess.\’\’

Middletown resident Scott K. Wilcox, a 43-year-old Republican, said that cigarettes are bad for the health of people. Instead of 20 cigarettes in a pack, why don\’t they simply reduce it to 7 in order to solve the problem? he asked.

William Katz of Hartford said there are 1 million handgun-related crimes per year.

\”Relax, National Rifle Association,\’\’ Katz said. \”We have a gun disease in this country.\’\’

He then turned to lawmakers and said, \”Wake up.\’\’

Michael Aron of West Hartford said that gun control is \”victim disarmanent\’\’ in the United States.

\”How are you going to enforce these laws?\’\’ Aron asked lawmakers. \”They\’re unenforceable. … I don\’t trust my government any more. … I would like to be armed with the same kind of firepower that my own government would use on me.\’\’

\”How can anyone continue, in good conscience, with business as usual?\’\’ asked one speaker. \”We have limitations on the First Amendment. We can\’t yell fire in a public place or say \’I have a bomb\’ in the airport.\’\’

Westport resident Lawrence Tirreno, who turns 65 next week, asked lawmakers if they had a fire extinguisher at home and then asked whether the government should be able to decide the size of the extinguisher.

\”Have any of you, considering 10-round magazines, been in a gun fight?\’\’ Tirreno asked. \”I have.\’\’

E. Jonathan Hardy, a firearms instructor and the legislative coordinator for the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said, \”You want to neuter a citizen\’s magazine capacity. … These active shooters. It\’s a thrill for them. … Gun control simply does not work.\’\’

One witness said it does not make sense to require gun owners to get liability insurance because \”we don\’t make people get procreation insurance on the chance that they might birth the next Adam Lanza.\’\’

Another witness said that a magazine ban is the equivalent of the taking of property by the government.

Colleen Swain, a 63-year-old Democrat from Sandy Hook, said she supports the proposals by Connecticut Against Gun Violence, adding that Sandy Hook is \”the tipping point\’\’ to prompt gun control laws in the Nutmeg State.  She supports universal background checks for all gun transactions.

\”Shame on the NRA and NSSF in Newtown,\’\’ Swain said. \”As with any dangerous product, guns need to be regulated. … Please protect us, not gun manufacturers.\’\’

Gregory P. Divito , 65, of the Oakville section of Watertown, a firearms instructor who has a nine-year-old son, said that about 90 percent of those whom he has trained in firearms are women. The murders of three members of the Petit family in Cheshire in 2007 prompted Divito to get involved in self defense, Divito said. He also has had personal experience with crime.

\”I was held up, shot, robbed, and almost killed,\’\’ Divito said. \”I do believe it\’s an atrocity to take my Second Amendment rights away. … We are trusting police? And they train three hours a year?\’\’

Justin Albert of Coventry, a hunter and sport shooter, said he was taught in Boy Scouts how to fire a rifle and \”I could feel a sense of maturity flowing through me.\’\’

Heather A. Whaley, 41, of Redding, the daughter of an Army Ranger, said there should be a limit of one gun purchase per month, per person. She said she blames \”NRA member Nancy Lanza\’\’ for having guns in a home with a mentally unstable son. 

\”There is nothing cosmetic about an AR-15,\’\’ Whaley said. \”The AR-15 is an incredibly accurate weapon, especially in a small space like a classroom. … I am not afraid of the NRA.\’\’

Shari R. Reilly, a 34-year-old Republican from Norwalk, said she hopes that her children will learn to handle firearms safely when they grow up.

\”I\’m not against every law, and I\’m not against background checks,\’\’ said Reilly, a pistol-permit holder and gun supporter. \”We need to enforce the rules that are already on the books. … What do they have to be afraid of?\’\’

John T. Coffindaffer of Oxford, a 50-year-old Republican who is a certified NRA rifle, shotgun and pistol instructor, said, \”If anyone needs to pay liability insurance, it should be those with mental disorders. … What is your choice? Honor or dishonor? How will you be remembered?\’\’

Richard F. Landry, a 67-year-old, bespectacled, bearded man from Berlin, said, \”You don\’t have a right to police protection. … If they show up, great. If they don\’t, well, that\’s the way it goes.\’\’

David Landry, a former U.S. Marine who spent 10 years selling guns at a gun store, said in April 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, 19 of the victims were children.

\”I don\’t recall anyone asking for a 50 percent tax on fertilizer,\’\’ he said, noting that fertilizer was used in the bombing. \”Who are we after here? … We should be focusing on the individual. … I feel this incident is being used as an excuse by some people who\’ve been trying to do this for a long time. You\’re like vultures. … This is what you\’ve been waiting for. … You haven\’t spoken on mental health or anything else. Shame on you. … This is not the answer. This is not even the beginning of the answer.\’\’

Middlefield resident Christopher Kalkreuth, a hunter and competitive shooter, said that real weapons of war have been heavily restricted at the federal level.

\”Guns were not to blame for this tragedy,\’\’ he said. \”None of [the proposed bills] would have prevented this.\’\’

Patrick Armstrong was announced by Miner at about 9:20 p.m. as speaker number 1,000 – even though many citizens had gone home for the day and 1,000 people did not speak. After 11 p.m. Monday, the numbers had gone beyond 1,200.

Linda F. Czaplinski, a 52-year-old Republican from Oxford, asked, \”How many guns do I need? Whatever I want. … It is my right to have easy access in my time of peril.\’\’

Victor Benson, a 54-year-old Republican from New Milford, blamed New York City Mayor Bloomberg, famed hedge fund investor George Soros and \”the liberal media\’\’ to \”take away the nasty looking guns\’\’ from Americans in an act of disarmament. He said \”the ultimate goal is to take all of our guns\’\’ from law-abiding citizens.

\”I do not trust any of you up there,\’\’ Benson said as he looked at the legislators in the so-called super committee, particularly naming co-chairman Martin Looney, who was not present at that moment. \”We law-abiding gun owners are fed up and we\’re mad as hell and we\’re not going to take it any more.\’\’

Like other pro-gun advocates, Farmington resident Jonathan Mazza said that citizens cannot rely on the police to protect them.

\”The protection of the people is no duty but our own,\’\’ Mazza said.

Jeffrey S. Bergmann, 49, of Westbrook said that no one should trust the government.

\”We\’ve got to protect ourselves from this, and that\’s why we were given the Second Amendment,\’\’ he said.

Robert Clark, a New Haven police officer for 14 years, a firearms collector, an independent voter, and a combat veteran in Iraq in 2003, said that one of his relatives fought at the Battle of Gettsyburg during the Civil War.

\”You should repeal the assault weapons ban,\’\’ he told lawmakers, saying that they should ask him questions because of his expertise. \”I\’m here to help.\’\’

Scott Wilson, president and co-founder of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said that the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities had been given more preference than the gun owners.

Lloyd Van Lanen of Voluntown, who leads an archery-based ministry at his church as a life skill, said that police could take as long as 31 minutes to get to his house.

\”Nothing personal, but I\’d rather defend myself,\’\’ he said, adding that he was opposed to any bill that limits his right to choose whichever weapons are necessary to defend his family.

Tom Kazazes of Greenwich, a father, pistol-permit holder, said that playgrounds at elementary schools are still vulnerable. He said that it\’s inconclusive over whether the gun bans have worked, but he said that the mass shootings rarely happen in gun-friendly states.

\”Gun control has not worked,\’\’ Kazazes told lawmakers after 11 p.m. Monday. \”They don\’t take place in Tennessee. They don\’t take place in Texas. … The only electoral threats you heard today are from the two founders of March for Change. … Don\’t pass laws that aren\’t going to make a difference.\’\’ 

Brian Vanacore, owner of BMG Guns & Ammo, said that cigarettes, drunken drivers, and doctors involved in medical malpractice all kill more people than guns. He said he was offended that he was forced to walk through a metal detector when he came into the Legislative Office Building on Monday for the public hearing.

\”If these laws get passed, I will be a criminal,\’\’ he told legislators. \”I will not turn in my bulletproof vest. … I will not turn in my guns or my ammo.\’\’

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40 thoughts on “Gun Owners, Opponents Clash Sharply At Historic Hearing At State Capitol Complex; Pro-Gun Supporters Far Outnumber Gun Control Advocates

  1. America Is Dying

    Brain Washed American Sheep is just what the government loves and wants.
    Balance the budget and leave law abiding citzens alone!

  2. Fred

    Terrible tragedies happen and you can’t prevent them. How can you stop it if you don’t know it’s coming. If a mentally ill person wants to do harm they will.

  3. Mitch

    Focus on criminals and mentally ill people (if the ACLU will allow it). That’s where the problems are. Has nothing to to with magazine capacity and semiauto rifles. Problem is this is a distraction, nothing more or less. Government, state and federal, is not facing the real issues that are destroying our country: horrible economy, even worse debt and unemployment, add to that the overwhelming dependence on our welfare system, partially due to illegal immigrants and you have what we have today, a real mess. This has nothing to do with 30-round magazines or rifles.

  4. Stranger

    The problem with gun control to stop mass murders is simple enough. The “active killers” like Adam Lanza avoid any place where they may encounter effective resistance.

    The “gun free zone” signs outside schools mark the boundaries of places where there are many helpless victims, and no chance of effective resistance.

    The “gun control argument” is also simple. There are more than 22,421 restrictive gun laws currently in force. Of those, not even one has reduced violent crime. The National Crime Survey shows relaxed gun laws, like “must issue” concealed weapons permits have cut violent crime by almost 80% since 1993.

    We need more permissive gun laws, not more restrictive gun laws.

    Stranger

  5. Karen

    I want to make changes to laws that will help PREVENT and REDUCE the chances that people will be shot and killed. One way to prevent and reduce gun violence is to make it harder for criminals and unstable people to get their hands on firearms. That means more steps for everyone in order to acquire guns-universal background checks, paper work accountability for ownership (a legal gun owner’s bill of sale to another person, with background check documentation and other and notarized documentation-i.e. copy of driver’s license front and back, history of addresses (notarized), document from another source (minister, doctor, psychologist) that this person is of “sound mind” and has no history of violence or unstable temperament. I’m willing to do this, are you?

    1. Hoover

      Karen I understand your desire for fewer gun deaths, we all share that view. But background checks would not have stopped Adam Lanza, he stole the guns. It would not affect criminals as they buy them illegally or steal them. You are trying to find rational ideas that irrational people will not follow.

    2. Kim

      Karen, you are willing to do these things because you have made it clear that you are completely against guns. What you want the rest of us to do amounts to banning gun ownership. Your words were – if I remember right – gun owners are evil, sinful, etc etc

      1. Henry Hoko

        I Don’t think gun owners are evil or sinful. Most are unstanding citizens. I envision more sports clubs and a shooting range developed in every large community. We simple need more responsible gun owners owning more guns.

  6. DR DUKE

    THE ONLY WAY TO STOP EVIL VIOLENCE IS TO SHOOT BACK. PEOPLE WHO PROMOTE “GUN FREE” ZONES AND REFUSE TO FIGHT BACK ARE ALMOST AS MUCH TO BLAME FOR EVENTS AS THE SHOOTER. MEN MUST MEET FORCE WITH FORCE.

  7. Joe Smith

    Federal background check on all guns.
    Mental illness, no gun.
    Documented domestic violence, no gun.
    Documented drug or alcohol abuse, no gun.
    Pass compulsory NRA training or no gun.

    1. mrrabbit

      1. Where in the constitution is the federal government empowered to do background check on people and property?

      2. What happened to unalienable rights and due process?
      3. What happened to unalienable rights and due process?
      4. What happened to unalienable rights and due process?

      5. Since when is the NRA THE authority on training and has the monopoly?

      =8-)

  8. Bob Jenkins

    What this, and other articles from the CT media, aren’t reporting, is that the turnout is 10-1 pro gun/anti-legislation. More laws are not the answer. Enforcing the laws we have are.

  9. Max Friedman

    At last an good, comprehensive coverage of a gun control meeting and from the Hartford Courant. There is hope yet for the media, of which I was once a card-carrying member (Nam and US).

    There are tens of thousands of gun control laws in the US (I’ve seen figures up to 70,000) yet none of them prevented the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary. Perhaps an armed and train security officer could have.

    Now my daughter helps to voluntarily guard my granddaughter’s school because of its physical vulnerabilities (which she is forcing the school to fix).

    My synagogue is a very vulnerable and logical target for terrorists. There are young school children there yet the rabbi is a big supporter of Obama and his policies. Oh boy do I feel safe there.

    We have duty and a right to protect our children when the government, at any level, fails to do so. Otherwise we are useless cowards and morally the equivalent of garbage.

    Gun control laws didn’t do Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexicans who were killed by the criminally negligent actions of the Dept. of Justice, DEA and ATF during “Fast and Furious”.

    The emphasis should be on gun safety for the home, much better mental health programs (and decent funding), and better sentencing for street criminals who use guns in the commission of any crime (federal prosecutors are not enforcing the automatic 5-10 year sentences for criminals who use sawed off shotguns in the commission of a crime).

    An 18 year old was arrested in DC the other day after using a sawed off shotgun in a brazen robbery. Because of his age (and the new legal thinking that wants to treat him like a juvenile), he might get 5-10 years, pled down from a possible 20-life. In a few years he’ll be back on the street with another illegal weapon and perhaps kill someone this time.

    And if you think that background checks are the panacea to prevent bad people from getting guns legally, think again. A background check is only as good as the data entered into the database system. Back information in, back information out. The whole immigration criminal database is a perfect example of how this has failed time and time again to keep the criminals out of the US.

    This is where a new look is needed. We must define what goes into a background database system, how it is checked for accuracy, entered accurately, and then responsibly made available to trained law enforcement personnel.

    Believe me, I’ve gotten several security risks fired from Congress and the news media because I knew things about them as threats which the government/employers failed to find. It was poor data-gathering that allowed this to happen. The same can happen re gun-control programs.

    Make them rational, logical, and pragmatic/realistic. Then people can take a serious look at them and hopefully make any needed changes.

    A “rush to judgment” is always a “rush to bad law” and the public/republic suffers because of it.

  10. Arthur

    I was riveted to the testimony from noon until end at 2:47. What I saw were regular people who had distantly different opinions on what to do and how it should be done, but wanted the same thing for the most part; stop the killings. I don’t agree with the voice that says “Ban and Tax, Register, and Confiscate. I agree that background checks at all stages can do some possible good, but frankly if I had the interest or desire to get a gun, it would in my opinion been easier to get it on the streets in any of the major cities in Connecticut than it was to go through the permit procedure, and I would have had a gun in 1 day, rather than the 5 or 6 weeks that it took me to get my permit and then legally purchase one. If I were inclined to be a killer, the day I decided to kill would have been all I needed to find one. Gangs are highly organized and well armed, but it is unlikely that they are getting permits or background checks before they go and get a gun.

    Stop the senseless killing of innocents by training and hiring more police officers that are going to be able to go after the gangs and their sources, and get the drug dealers off the streets. There is pretty obviously no way to stop them at this point, due to budget cuts and laying off officers there are not enough to go after them where they live, where they “work”. To put down the gang rebellion you will need a “overwhelming force and firepower” just like Desert Storm.

    Until the country and state are willing to fund and do the job, little will change. There is no way the current manpower can stem the tide and stop the illegal trade in guns with the current manpower.

  11. Kim

    Thanks Mr. Keating. It’s refreshing to see what appears to be complete, unbiased coverage of this most important of issues. Kudos to you. It would be great if others in your organization emulated you in this regard.

    That being said, I’d like to make a couple of points.

    1. “Why are people saying this legislation will be difficult or almost impossible to pass?” Staunton asked legislators. “People will live or die based on how you decide to vote.” MY RESPONSE: People WILL live or die based on this issue and the vote. Innocent people will die if they are deprived of their rights to own weapons for self-defense. If one innocent person’s life is saved by allowing them to own a weapon for self-defense, then the politicians are obligated to reduce restrictions on gun ownership instead of increasing restrictions. This argument is used by the anti-gunners but it works both ways. In fact, it works more in favor of gun ownership than otherwise.

    2. “There is nothing cosmetic about an AR-15,” Whaley said. “The AR-15 is an incredibly accurate weapon, especially in a small space like a classroom. … I am not afraid of the NRA.” MY RESPONSE: Yes, an AR-15 is an incredibly accurate weapon, which is why the good guys need them. What would be the point of owning a weapon of self defense if it couldn’t shoot straight? And I’m glad Whaley is not afraid of the NRA – this is appropriate. The NRA is about protecting our freedoms. If anything, Whaley should be afraid of overreaching governments.

    3. The anti-gunners are using phrases like ‘rapid-fire weapons’. This makes it quite clear that they are against more than just weapons that look like assault weapons, but against even the semi-automatic handgun that the majority of gun owners own for personal protection. Any new laws made to restrict so-called ‘assault weapons’ and magazine size, will be used next year to ban outright the semi-automatic pistol AND the revolver because they both can be fired ‘rapidly’. The truth is, the anti-gunners want to ban ALL guns, and only pretend to approve of single-shot, black powder weapons like the colonists used.

    The creator of the infamous video that was blamed for Benghazi was arrested and is STILL IN JAIL. Why? It has long been established that the video did not cause anything. If we have a 1st Amendment, why was he arrested at all? Why is he still in jail? Why don’t journalists worry about this?

    Yes, people, it is time to wake up and see what is happening to your freedoms. Losing the 2nd Amendment is the start of losing ALL your freedoms. Not being able to buy a large soft drink in NYC is only the beginning.

  12. Johngaltwhereru

    Before I even read this piece, the caption had me concerned for Mr. Keating’s job.

    Since when does the Courant allow for any information that runs counter to their narrative to be published?

    1. Connecticut is dying too

      Good point made by you John. Its a scary proposition when the liberal press climbs out on a limb and tries to do its job of objective reporting.

    2. Steve (CT)

      I suspect this is an online only piece so it only gets a fraction of the readership of the printed paper. Its a good way to claim equal coverage of an issue while limiting it at the same time.

      1. Mike Robinson

        Blogs are in the opinion section and not required to be as fairly unbalanced as Faux News. I know an opinion section is a difficult concept to grasp, but give it a try.

  13. Mike Robinson

    Jerry Maguire: [babbling and struggling] I love you. You… you complete me. And I just…

    Dorothy: You had me at “Pro-Gun Supporters Far Outnumber Gun Control Advocates.”

    1. Connecticut is dying too

      Not to worry Mike. You still have abortion rights and illegal immigrants on your side.

    2. johngaltwhereru

      Mike,

      My emotions were shock followed by concern. You are confusing those with very different emotions.

      In reality, I don’t care who was at this hearing. That would imply that I am dumb enough to believe the Democrat controlled legislature cares about the thoughts of anyone who disagrees with the legislation they will pass.

      1. Mike Robinson

        Galt, I just think it is funny. Put a pro-gun headline on a story and the gun people are falling all over themselves to call the story wonderful. This story presents many of the same things they decry elsewhere. But they fell in love at that headline and it colors their view of the rest. Even you say “it runs counter” but does it really or just the headline?

        There’s a moral here if you do want the other side to hear your voice. Don’t start by insulting their heroes or views. Put the attractive stuff up front and sneak in the medicine.

        1. johngaltwhereru

          Mike,

          I was just surprised at the hint of objectivity. That is all.

          This has nothing to do with being pro or anti-gun.

          I don’t have a gun. I don’t want a gun. When the citizens rise up against tyranny in a Civil War, I want them well armed. If I am alive when this occurs, I will help fund them, but I will be in another Country.

          1. Johngaltwhereru

            You had been doing so well keeping race baiting out of stories that had nothing to do with race.

  14. Mr Cow

    The Ct Legislature repealed the death penalty against the wishes of 2/3 of this state’s citizens. Then they initiated early release of already convicted and sentenced criminals. Neither was about “public safety”. Turning responsible gun owners into felons is in fact what they want to do. They don’t care about We The People! They care about a progressive agenda and we are the enemy.

  15. Charlie

    It seems that the democrats think the 2nd amendment is for hunting and sports when it is our god given
    Right to self-defense. When I joined the military I took the oath to defended the Constitution and
    Still believe in supporting it to this day. But I guess when you’re a politician taking the Oath
    To defend the Constitution just doesn’t mean the same.

  16. Dwight H. Slocum SR.

    Keep up the faith, People!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Never forget what happened at Waco TX. ,that wacko
    Janet Reno sent Flamethrowing tanks in to Murder, Men,
    women, children,and even little Babies!!!!!!!!!!!!.
    Our Goverment!!!!!!!!!!!!
    also remember Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge,they shot his dogs, and killed his family,our Goverment!!!!!!!!!!!
    With Gods help if I have to defend myself & Family I will do so till I am killed!!!!!!!.
    Sincerely, D. H. Slocum SR,(Korean War Vet)

  17. Tim

    This is one of the most fair and balanced articles I’ve ever seen published in the Courant, where gun control is concerned. Kudos to Chris Keating. Having watched many hours of the hearing webcast, I did notice that powerful testimony from a (Mrs? Ms?)Aron was not mentioned: she stated that she owed a duty to her ancestors who died in the ovens in Nazi Germany, at the hands of their own government, to resist attempts to disarm law-abiding citizens. Thank you, Mrs Aron, for reminding us of their fate. You brought tears to my eyes. “Never Again.”

  18. Wm Mazzoni

    I will happily submit to a “universal background check” if politicians and media reporters submit to the same. Furthermore, those who believe that “gun free zones” make you safer should display the courage of their convictions by posting signs in front of their homes declaring those homes as “gun free zones”

    1. Johngaltwhereru

      Brilliant! What we be included in the politicians background check?

      Additionally, it should be a felony for any elected official to interact with any other elected official, interest group, or lobbyist without uninterrupted audio and video of said interaction.

  19. M Morrow

    Watching the debate from outside the US, the one thing that screams out from all of this is that both sides of the debate express a palpable fear of other citizens. Pro-gunners want to arms themselves against dangerous citizens, while anti-gunners want to make sure dangerous citizens don’t have guns.

    I think the pro-gunners have a point: The proposed law reforms probably won’t make much difference.

    I also think the pro-gunners are going to win this one. But whoever wins this battle, I hope neither side simply washes its hands of the matter and walks away from the issue of US citizens being shot, with the idea that nothing more needs to be done.

    As many have pointed out here, mental health is the issue. But it’s not just the mental health of the offenders, but the paranoia of everyone, the inherent fear and lack of trust of government and fellow citizens that is so palpable in all of this debate.

    What seems very significant in all this, is how strongly US citizens feel that fellow citizens pose such a threat. This is very striking from an outsider’s point of view.

    I believe this is what needs your attention. Leave aside any issue regarding guns, and look at why you are so fearful of your neighbours. Is it just hyped-up paranoia, or is it a justifiable fear? Either way, there is something there that needs to be addressed so that your citizens not only FEEL safe, but ARE safe.

    I live in Australia. I’m neither pro nor anti gun, but I live in a country that expresses relatively little fear of other citizens. I’m in my mid-40s, I have a wife and kids, and like almost everyone I know, I don’t own a single firearm. That’s because I don’t have any reason to fear others. I also personally don’t know a single person who has every experienced a gun crime.

    We have gun-related crimes, just like we have every other kind of crime. But we don’t suffer the type of massacres that are rife in the US. So, we’re all pretty relaxed, really.

    Why is there no such fear in my country?

    Why is there such a fear in the US?

    That’s the issue that is being ignored while everyone debates the pros and cons of guns.

    1. Kim

      M Morrow: there is fear of neighbors because the legal system here does not punish criminals sufficiently. All they do is make laws without backing them up. Criminals seemingly have more rights than victims.

      We have a 2nd Amendment here to hold tyranny at bay. That means there are lots of weapons around. When criminals aren’t punished they have no reason to fear the legal system. Put a gun in their hands and the bravery factor increases exponentially.

      Laws like ‘stand your ground’ are designed to help victims instead of criminals, meaning victims don’t have to turn and run when their lives are at stake.

      I could go on and on, but this is a good start

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