Tom Foley is tired of talking about guns.
The former Republican gubernatorial nominee made it clear Tuesday, after holding a press conference at the state Capitol complex, that he prefers talking about issues like the conflicts of interest by state legislators in their outside employment.
“If I were governor, the gun bill would have been very different,” Foley told Capitol Watch. ”This case [in Newtown], the Aurora case, the Gabrielle Giffords case were all mental health cases, and I don’t think there’s nearly enough in the bill on mental health issues that lead to violence. There’s no availability of institutionalization for a lot of mentally ill people, and families have a serious challenge. I have mental illness in my family. It’s been a real challenge trying to find institutional support for family members who need it.”
He added, “The second thing – I don’t think the bill did enough to address gun violence in the cities, where we’re losing young people if not every day, then every couple of days. So, I was surprised that the legislature and Governor Malloy didn’t address inner-city crime.”
Saying that many guns that are used in inner-city crimes are stolen, Foley said the bill would not have done enough to stop that problem.
Two newspaper reporters asked Foley questions about the highly detailed gun bill, which took up much of the legislature’s time and attention for about three months.
When asked by a New Haven reporter if he objects to the expansion of the assault weapons ban that was approved by the legislature on a bipartisan basis and is now law, Foley said, “Enough on guns. Guns is over.”
When told by the reporter that questions have been raised about his views on the new law, Foley said, “Who is this? Roy and Nancy who are firing these questions? I don’t answer questions from Roy and Nancy.”
Foley was referring to longtime Democratic political operative Roy Occhiogrosso and Democratic state party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, who have asked repeatedly recently if Foley would have signed the gun bill that Malloy signed.
“Today, we were having a press conference on state ethics and Senate Bill 727,” Foley said. “When I’m governor, it’ll be my bill [on guns], and I’ll address it then.”
Reached Tuesday night, Occhiogrosso said he believes the issue will not go away until Foley publicly says whether he would have signed or vetoed the bill. He said the questions were not simply coming only from him.
“The questions are coming from the people of Connecticut,” Occhiogrosso told Capitol Watch. “It’s one of the most important issues in many years. … Republicans in Hartford took a position on the bill, and then Republicans in Washington, D.C. took a position [on federal gun issues]. It’s a pretty simple question. Would he have signed the bill or not signed the bill? He refuses to say whether he would have signed the bill.’’
He added, “I don’t think it will go away. I think there are parents across the state who have organized around this issue, and I don’t think they will let it go away. … Simple question: if you had been governor and this bill had reached your desk, would you have signed it? Yes or no?’’