The Courant’s Jenny Wilson has put together a fascinating nationwide map showing the status of gun legislation in every state. Half a dozen locations, marked below in yellow, are considering multiple initiatives, some of which favor gun rights and some which favor gun control. But the other 44 states and the District of Columbia are pursuing legislation on just one side of the divide. In the map below, legislation leans towards gun rights in states shaded red and toward gun control in states shaded blue. (The darker red and blue indicates states where new legislation has been passed into law.)
That red-blue divide looks modestly familiar. With a handful of exceptions, the gun legislation map matches the state-by-state divide in the Obama/Romney election last November. See for yourselves:
Gun Legislation Map
2012 Election Map
Individuals with severe developmental disabilities often require specialized care to address specific medical and behavioral issues. But every year, dozens in Connecticut are placed in nursing homes designed to serve a different population. It is a situation that both state officials and advocates oppose but it continues, sometimes with tragic consequences.
The Courant today wraps up a three-day investigation into neglect and abuse of developmentally disabled adults with a look at deaths in nursing homes. In addition to cases of inadequate care, the story also reveals that nursing homes sometimes fail to notify state officials when a resident with intellectual disabilities dies, which can hinder efforts to determine whether there were deficiencies in treatment.
The series, which began Sunday, also included a broad look at deaths among the developmentally disabled who were receiving state services – revealing that from 2004 to 2010, neglect was cited in investigations of 76 deaths – and a story on physical and sexual abuse of the disabled. Details on those who died are presented on a timeline of the 76 deaths and several individual victims were profiled.
Monday, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy responded to the series, calling for a federal investigation into deaths nationwide.
In East Lyme, a resident of a group home for the developmentally disabled was sexually assaulted by a worker for more than a year by before the assaults came to light, according to police.
In East Hartford, a mentally frail woman was kicked, whipped with a belt and dragged across the floor by her hair.
And in Danielson, a group home worker admitted sexually assaulting two disabled women for more than a decade before the abuse was discovered.
They are cases at the extremes of betrayal and abuse, but advocates say those with developmental disabilities in Connecticut and across the country are significantly more vulnerable to violence and abuse. And when they are victimized, the crimes are less likely to be reported to police, and the victims are less likely to be believed by those in the criminal justice system.
In Day 2 of a series on mistreatment of developmentally disabled adults, the Courant explores physical and sexual violence against those with intellectual disabilities. “We are seeing a huge, huge problem in the country with abuse,” one advocate says.
They are among the most vulnerable of the state’s citizens – developmentally disabled adults living in facilities large and small under the supervision of the Department of Developmental Services. But in a scenario all sides agree occurs too frequently, those vulnerable citizens lose their lives to neglect.
From 2004 to 2010, investigators cited neglect in the deaths of 76 developmentally disabled adults receiving services from the Department of Developmental Services, a Courant investigation has found. One was placed in a scalding bathtub without workers checking the temperature. Two drowned during poorly supervised outings. Several choked to death despite protocols designed to keep them safe. Others fell ill and received inadequate medical intervention.
The Courant today begins a three-day investigation, exploring the reasons behind the spate of deaths at group homes, institutions, hospitals and nursing homes, and the efforts to keep their fragile residents safe. Read that story here. On Monday, the Courant will reporting on the thousands of reported cases of non-fatal abuse and assault involving developmentally disabled residents. And on Tuesday, the paper will explain a trend toward placing developmentally disabled adults in nursing homes, despite near-universal agreement of those involved that the practice is undesirable.
The package of stories will also include several profiles of developmentally disabled adults who lost their lives to neglect. And an interactive timeline provides details on all 76 who died.
Following the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many called for a renewed discussion of gun violence in America, predicting that the tragedy would bring the nation closer to agreement on solutions to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.
But the Courant, in collaboration with the PBS show “Frontline,” found that two months after the attack that killed 20 students and six educators, the cultural gulf over guns – in America, in Connecticut, even in Newtown – is deeper than ever, with little common ground between those who see guns as a source of enjoyment and protection and those who see guns only as killing machines.
“A Deeper Divide: The Gun Control Debate After Newtown” explores that divide, from a dispute in Newtown last year over unregulated outdoor shooting, to the newly energized supporters of stricter gun-control, to the newly steadfast gun enthusiasts marshaling to defend rights they fear they will lose to what they see as emotional and ineffective legislative proposals.
The package of stories includes two sidebars. “A Deeper Divide: In Newtown and Caught in the Middle” focuses on a lifelong hunter in Newtown who feels heat from both sides of the debate. “A Deeper Divide: Two Views on One Gun” explores the difficulty of defining the term “assault weapon,” and illustrates how far apart the two camps are, with the industry describing military-style semi-automatic firearms as “modern sporting rifles,” and one gun-control advocate describing those same guns as “military-grade people killers.”
The stories on the gun debate follows the publication of “Raising Adam Lanza” an in-depth examination by the Courant and “Frontline” on the life of the Sandy Hook shooter and his relationship to his mother, Nancy Lanza.
At 10 p.m. tonight, “Frontline” will air a special report on both joint projects with the Courant.
We may spend years trying to understand the troubled mind of Adam Lanza. But just two months after his deadly attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School, my colleagues Alaine Griffin and Josh Kovner have produced an unmatched examination of Lanza’s life and his relationship to his protective mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he also killed. That story appears online and in Sunday’s Courant.
Griffin and Kovner, joined by the PBS investigative news show Frontline, spent more than a month tracking down those who knew the Lanzas, along with documents that help illuminate Adam Lanza’s bizarre behavior and his mother’s efforts, for better or worse, to keep him stable.
The Courant’s in-depth coverage of the Sandy Hook attack continues Tuesday with a package of stories on the gun-control debate spawned by the Dec. 14 shootings. Tuesday night, Frontline will devote an hour to the Courant’s reporting.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney gave Steven Spielberg a bit of a history lesson this week, taking exception with the legendary director’s depiction, in the film “Lincoln,” of congressmen from Connecticut voting against the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
Courtney watched the movie over the weekend, and scratched his head at the thought that representatives of a liberal state like Connecticut would have supported slavery. That sent him digging into Congressional history on the Internet.
At The Courant, we have our own robust archive of pretty much everything major that’s happened since before there was a United States, and indeed our coverage of the Jan. 31, 1865 vote shows that “Of the New England delegation only one – Mr. Sweat, of Maine – voted against it.”
The Constitutional Amendment even won the support of James Edward English of New Haven, the one Democrat among Connecticut’s four representatives at the time. English did not seek re-election in 1864, but was still in office when the vote took place, and broke ranks with those in his party who supported slavery.
Click the image below to read part of the Courant’s coverage of the vote.
A New York newspaper’s decision to publish a map with the names and addresses of area pistol-permit holders continues to generate backlash, with officials in one county now saying they won’t comply with a state law mandating that such information is public.
As reported here last week, the Journal News, a paper covering several counties north of New York City, published a map pinpointing the exact location of homes in Westchester and Rockland counties whose residents had permits to own a handgun. Putnam County had begun assembling the same data in response to the newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act request. But following a firestorm of controversy, county officials have now scheduled a news conference Thursday to announce they won’t release the data.
“There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong and the Journal News is clearly wrong,” Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said in a statement to the Reuters news agency.
In this case, the rule of law is clear; the New York State statute covering firearms licenses states that “The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record.” But that has held little sway with local politicians, who were inundated with calls from gun owners upset at the prospect of being identified.
State Sen. Greg Ball called publication of the data “unethical” and blamed “asinine editors” for the decision to put the information on the Web. His office issued the press advisory for Thursday’s announcement, under the label “Putnam County Officials Stand Up For Law-abiding Gun Owners.”
The Journal News, which is owned by Gannett, quoted Ball as saying: “The county clerk has my full support to protect these law abiding citizens and if The Journal News thinks they can intimidate Putnam, they are sorely mistaken. Before I waver, the egghead editors at the Journal News can kiss my white, Irish behind.”
Reaction from readers and gun enthusiasts has been similarly harsh, leading to threats against newspaper employees, a local blogger’s effort to map the home addresses of scores of staffers at the paper, and a call by a New York gun group to boycott advertisers of Gannett newspapers. “The Journal News has put in harm’s way tens of thousands of lawful license holders,” officials with the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association wrote. “This action by the Journal News can only be viewed as an attempt to intimidate and bully lawful gun-owning citizens.”
Many journalists have also criticized the publication, saying that in the absence of additional analysis – such as comparing the database of permit holders against a database of convicted criminals or those named in restraining orders – the data has little public value.
But some have defended and praised the reporting, which showed that one in 23 adults in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties have permits to own handguns. Some commenters said they appreciate the ability to see which homes in their neighborhoods may have firearms, while others dismissed the claims that gun owners were put at risk by the publication, saying gun-permit records in New York has been public for years.
And one poster said critics have it all backwards, saying it isn’t the gun owners who should be upset by the publication. “It puts the unarmed population in harms way,” wrote one poster on Facebook. “Now the bad guys know who cannot put up a competent defense and therefore will choose the unarmed instead of a firearm owner’s house.”
Are there guns in your neighbors’ homes?
What about the homes where your kids play?
It’s a point of curiosity in many cities and towns, and the massacre in Newtown has sparked fresh debates over the proliferation of weapons in seemingly quiet communities. But one New York newspaper’s decision to map the exact location of every pistol permit in its coverage area has created a firestorm of local controversy, including angry threats against newspaper employees.
In journalism circles, meanwhile, the publication is reviving discussions over whether there are limits to ethical publishing in the Internet age, when massive datasets – from public employee salaries to criminal convictions – can find permanent homes on the Web.
It all began last Sunday, with a story in the Journal News, a Gannett-owned newspaper covering Westchester and Rockland counties north of New York City. “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood” was the headline, and the story mostly focused on the paper’s effort to obtain pistol-permit data for the region, along with a discussion of whether such information should be public or private. In New York State (but not, since 1994, in Connecticut), the names and addresses of pistol-permit holders are public records by law.
It was a fairly routine article. But accompanying the story was an interactive Google map with dots identifying the location of each pistol permit in the counties. Zooming in and clicking on the dots revealed the name and street address of the pistol-permit holder – though possession of a permit does not necessarily mean an individual owns a firearm.
Fueled by social media, the response was immediate and overwhelmingly negative. Gun owners complained their privacy had been violated, and that the publication would make them targets for gun thieves. Some believed the paper was putting gun owners in the same category as sex offenders. One reader said publishing the map “is no different than Germans publishing the names of Jewish merchants and bankers back in 1933.” And by week’s end, blogger Robert Cox who runs “Talk of the Sound,” had published a Google map showing the home addresses, home telephone numbers and email addresses of 21 employees of the Journal News.
Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group, defended the map in a follow-up story. “New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information,” she was quoted as saying.
But the publication created unease among some data journalists. On an email listserv for computer-assisted reporting, several journalists wrote that the data, without further analysis, added no value to the story, and that the wholesale publication would likely generate legislative efforts to block public access to the data. One called the publication “data vomiting” and part of a trend toward publishing click-friendly datasets with little context.
Still, the map was click-friendly, generating tens if not hundreds of thousands of views, including some, presumably, from area residents who did find it valuable to identify the possible location of guns in their neighborhood.
Media outlets in the past have run lists of gun-permit owners, and – as in New York State – have faced backlash from angry gun owners, including tit-for-tat publication of the journalists’ residential information. This week, critics of the Journal News reacted gleefully to the dissemination of the journalists’ addresses and phone number, though one wondered if it would increase the likelihood that they would become victims of violence.
“I’m sure none of these people have guns or the ability to stop ‘bad’ people from doing bad things,” one wrote.
But that’s not entirely correct. The original Journal News story, written by staffer Dwight R. Worley, included this unusual editor’s note: “Journal News reporter Dwight R. Worley owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011.”
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