Can Connecticut Enact Rational Gun Control Legislation?

Patch Back columnist Lisa Bigelow spoke with State Representative Gail Lavielle about the challenges facing the legislature in the upcoming term.


With the holiday season behind us and 2013 officially here, the powers in Hartford are busy preparing for another jam-packed legislative agenda. Certainly, Connecticut is facing a wide variety of economic, fiscal and social challenges. And while national politics often capture the lion’s share of our collective attention, let’s not forget that what happens legislatively closer to home probably has a greater effect on our daily lives.

I recently had the opportunity to meet State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) over sushi and seaweed in Westport. I came away impressed with her calm demeanor, easy intelligence and rational thinking. One of my New Year’s resolutions—to write more about local politics—came to early fruition as she agreed to speak with me again about her plans for the upcoming legislative session.

Before Newtown, our interview and the 2013 inaugural "Patch Back" column was to have been about the Connecticut state budget. Indeed, there will be many future columns dedicated to how our tax dollars are being spent.

But for now, gun control legislation chatter is at a fever pitch—and rightfully so. Our citizens demand action. And our elected officials have an important opportunity to demonstrate bipartisan thinking with more than feels-good, accomplishes-nothing legislation.

Ms. Lavielle, for one, is paying close attention.

“I am listening at this point,” Ms. Lavielle told me after remarking that Connecticut’s current assault weapons ban is ambiguous. While acknowledging she is still learning about the finer points of weapons technology, she is firm in her belief that new any new legislation language must be clearly defined as well as enforceable.

“Grandfathering sounds wonderful,” she said. “But is it enforceable? Probably not.

“I am willing to participate in a very informed and level headed debate — we need this debate,” she continued. “It seems in current usage ‘semi-automatic’ can mean just about anything.

“We are elected to think about things clearly and bring clear heads,” she added, “and I intend to spend the next four to six weeks learning the facts and learning my constituents’ opinions.”

These comments, for this columnist, were so refreshing to hear. The Newtown disaster demands a thoughtful, rational, practical and actionable response from our state government. As Ms. Lavielle observes, we must listen first, gather data next and only then draw conclusions from these data. Finally, our legislators must act to produce a meaningful law that will ensure Newtown never, ever happens again.

Addressing the problem with enhanced weapons measures will only attack part of the problem, however. I am hopeful that Governor Malloy’s newly-formed Sandy Hook commission will also consider the practicality of implementing and enforcing mandatory mental health background checks prior to purchase as well as private gun sale regulation. The gun show loophole should be closed, too.

Although I am looking forward to the commission's legislative recommendations in addition to the public comment on the proposed legislation, I am not looking forward to political grandstanding, emotionally charged and mostly anonymous online debate, and absurd special interest lobbying.

Let common sense and calm reign in Hartford and in our populace. Let the Sandy Hook commission and our lawmakers craft clear, thorough and enforceable legislation that will do more than ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and increase security at our schools. Let them remember that the vast majority of Connecticut gun owners are law-abiding citizens who have the right to own weapons without fear of having their names published, as one legislator foolishly suggested.

Finally, let us remember the term “assault weapon” is redundant. All guns kill. In this writer’s opinion, it’s the access to the weapon that must be better controlled.

Do you want to participate in Connecticut’s gun control legislative process? Share your views with Representative Lavielle at (860) 240-8700 or Gail.Lavielle@HouseGOP.CT.gov.

Sean M January 09, 2013 at 03:06 PM
The problem has nothing to do with gun control. The issue is uninformed people attempting to pass laws on firearms that they have no knowledge on. The first issue that must be addressed is understanding that laws do not stop criminals. Schools by law are gun free, but criminals ignore the laws. All that law does is make honest citizens disarmed. People who want to hurt people look for an advantage and not being able to defend yourself is one of them. People have to accept that evil exists in the world and prepare themselves not only to accept it does exist, but what are we individually going to do to stop it if we encounter it. The government will not protect us. The police cannot arrive fast enough. We do not need gun laws. We need informed elected officials who live in reality.
Voice of Reason January 09, 2013 at 03:53 PM
"Can Connecticut Enact Rational Gun Control Legislation?" Perhaps a better question would be, "Can the Nation Get to the Root of the Problem?". Uninformed, emotionally driven reactionary Legislators need not apply.
Erik Musick January 10, 2013 at 02:50 AM
The government cannot save us, nor protect us. Agreed. Personally, I'd think it would be something to tell government to stick to maintaining our highways, deliver the mail, secure our borders, keep a strong and relevant military, and leave all the rest up to us. Evil does exist, and it is up to us to individually stop it. Preach it, brother.
joe_m January 10, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Lessons from another government: http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/28-12-2012/123335-americans_guns-0/ Even the Russians know.
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:21 PM
As per the usual it's far easier to look at controlling the "how" versus the "why". Let us take a look at some of the whys. Broken Judicial system. Violent criminals are put on the streets while minor drug use offensives keep others locked up. This is not to say that I'm in favor of legalizing a bunch of drugs. Quite the contrary, drug use, that was encouraged by Hippie culture, is seen starting around the same time as the start of a sharp increase in violent crime. Access to mental care and lack of facilities. Individuals that seek mental care for a loved one find it difficult to get the needed care when using private insurance while those on public assistance are able get help easier but usually in the form of drugs, drugs that may have dangerous side effects in and of themselves. We've also seen the closing of facilities to provide full time care to those that need it, facilities such as Fairfield Hills. Government forces the taxpayer to foot the bill for drug addicts and other welfare recipients. Why then has Government turned it's back on those whose problem is a mental condition that the Individual has absolutely no control over? People are left trying to deal with others' mental health issues when they are not qualified and don't have the time. This can be a difficult topic to address as peoples' Civil Liberties can come into play. Continued...
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Hollywood violence and gaming industry. Everyday we see Hollywood's mock violence and mock results on television. The violence and gore can be look quite realistic while the results are far from the real world outcomes and we see the same from the gaming industry. While I don't like this proliferation of mock violence and “results” thereof I believe much of it is actually protected by the First Amendment. Parents need to maintain control over what their children are viewing and explain the fictional versus real world violence their children view. More guns. Is that the answer? I, for one, don't wish to feel as if I live in a police state. This is America and we have Freedoms, Rights and responsibilities. Schools can be made to be safer without armed guards. In fact, Dawn Hochsprung implemented several safety measures that would go a long way towards securing schools in general but a little more needs to be done. As an aside, while it's not my first choice, armed guards would be quite effective when combined with other measures. I presume this is why the President and other gun-control advocates such as David Gregory send their children to schools with numerous armed guards, I just don't understand their hypocrisy on the subject when they dismiss the idea. Continued...
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Gun free zones. These are often the areas where mass shootings take place. Government restrictions on Right of self-defense to otherwise law abiding citizens should be lifted. Individuals could still choose to have gun free zones in their homes and businesses as that is their Right. A lot of schools used to have shooting teams/clubs and some students even carried their rifle back and forth on the bus and I don't recall ever reading about a school shooting by one of these people. Now schools are gun free zones and if a child even makes a mock gun with their hand they face being expelled. From what I've read the actions of Dawn Hochsprung and Victoria Soto are nothing short of heroic, they knowingly put themselves in harms way to protect others. I don't know what their thoughts were on “gun control” but it is that type of behavior they exhibited that forces me to question if they had their Right of self-defense available to them; what would have been the outcome of the tragedy if they had equal force? Continued...
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Socio-Economics and Drugs. The US is viewed as a violent Country. However, if we break down the occurrences of violent crime we see the majority of it happening in less affluent areas. While we know that money isn't the fix all for problems we also know that lack of it can cause the worst behavior to come out of an Individual. Cities are hubs for the drug cartels, illegal drugs are expensive and lives are cheap in these areas. Police often know the who, what and where but don't act on information for a multitude of reasons. It's time to look for real and meaningful actions on reducing illegal drugs. What can we do to address the economic problem? Jobs? Let us once again be a Nation of producers. These cities used to be full of hard working folks, not dangerous places to avoid. Continued...
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Government. Many folks are familiar with the recent Government operation know as “Fast and Furious”. In a nutshell this was our Federal Government taking thousands of legal guns and putting them into illegal hands in Mexico to “follow them” back to the States. Who could ever think that such a plan was a good idea? People got killed by those guns. When I first learned that this was a “for real” event I asked myself the question, “How many times has this happened before?”. Additionally how many other guns are smuggled into the Country? We are led to believe that all guns start out in the hands of legal citizens and they are stolen or sold but we have evidence that this is not always the case. Continued...
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Stop blaming the NRA. Gun opponents have fired off with every insult and condemnation at the NRA and Members. NRA has in fact backed some Gun Control measure by supporting the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the “Machine Gun Act” of 1986. The NRA has also attempted to have rewrites of certain legislation as it violated other Individual Right enumerated by the Bill of Rights, it's not just about the Second Amendment. Gun Control advocates took a narrower view these times and painted the NRA as being unreasonable and simply blocking legislation. The NRA pushes safety measures and offers literature and programs such as “Eddie Eagle” that promote gun safety but these things are quickly dismissed by opponents. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is another resource dismissed. Have we been doing something right? If we look to FBI statistics we see that violent crime started on the rise in the late 1960's and continued sharply upward until the early 1990's where it began to trend downward. Many will find it hard to believe but the reality is violent crime is at lows not seen since the early 1960's. Violent crime being down while the number of guns legally held by Individuals is sharply up. Media's attention to specific events sways perception. Copy and Paste if you agree. Finis.
Sean M January 10, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Dear Voice of Reason, you are out commenting me. Your free speech will be stopped immediately. Dictator Overton has been notified.
Voice of Reason January 10, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Sean. I don't think I could ever out comment you. Lol. Believe it or not this past group of posts are modified and only part of something I wrote for distribution on a much larger scale. Just call me Tolstoy.
joe_m January 10, 2013 at 08:34 PM
"Let common sense and calm reign in Hartford" You've got to be kidding? Anyone with any common sense and any knowledge of history knows that will never happen. To begin this process before the state issues a final report on the Newtown tragedy is just politics and nothing meaningful ever comes of politics.
Voice of Reason January 11, 2013 at 02:49 AM
The legislators could just listen to Eric Holder speaking in 1995.........Brainwash people about guns. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQon0N0a6ms


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