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Ending Gun Violence for All

Patch Back's Lisa Bigelow wonders, will the results of Connecticut's gun control legislative efforts help all of our citizens, or just some?

The bipartisan task force on gun violence held a public hearing on Monday in Hartford during which Newtown victims’ family members, gun rights advocates, members of the public and elected representatives testified on upcoming legislation. 

The testimony was sobering. And it revealed an audience of constituents tired of violence, frustrated with the slow pace of legislative change and deeply, deeply divided over the rights of citizens to own (or not to own) assault-style weapons.

As I watched, what struck me most were not the heartbreaking words of the victims. It wasn’t the guarded words of the gun club member or the angry words of the control advocate.

Instead, it was the gentlemen from the high populations centers who deal with the slow, bloody drain of handgun violence every single day. They said, where have you been, Bipartisan Task Force? We’ve been begging for help for years.

They rightly stated that these current efforts, though certainly well intended, won’t do a thing to help victims of violence in the communities of Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. Therefore, I will repeat what needs repeating: any gun control legislation must address more than what is versus what isn’t an “assault” weapon.

It must be about more than just magazine capacity, too. It must even be about more than figuring out a way to incorporate better psychological care into our current health system. Instead, let us strive to end gun violence in all its forms so that our friends in urban areas win the same right to safety that those in quieter locales usually enjoy.

Alert: I’m going to ask the question that no one in the media seems to be asking. Many of you will disagree. And for once, I truly hope you do. And I not only hope you disagree, I hope you write in and tell me why I’m wrong (respectfully, of course … I didn’t enjoy being called a “stupid” “leftist” last week, even though my kids got a huge kick out of it).

Although many gun violence statistics can be twisted to suit a variety of needs the data on urban areas with high crime rates are clear: the victims are most often minorities. These minority victims are far outnumber the victims of mass shootings, who tend to be white. To me, it is disappointingly clear that the nationwide effort to “do something” about guns has everything to do with affluence and its favorite cousin, race.

Tell me, where are the marches when young children are murdered on the streets of Chicago, or New Haven, or Washington, or Detroit? Let me be clear: I do not question for one moment the sincerity or intent of the folks from March for Change or CAGV or hell, even the NRA. When an event such as Newtown occurs in our own backyard it is only natural that the local response should be strong and heartfelt and pure.

But I do have serious questions about the value we as a society place on human life. Or, at the very least, I question the validity of developing a legislative response to a societal threat that is directly proportional to the consequences of one action, as occurred in Newtown, versus developing a legislative response to what occurs every day to people of all colors.

Let’s work together to make all forms of violence end, as one reader so aptly wrote to me several days ago. Let’s help our legislators craft a bill that will regulate private gun sales so common criminals can’t get them easily. Let’s make universal background checks strict and repeating. Let’s develop and enforce safe storage laws and train administrators and teachers in effective self defense tactics.

Most of all, let us remember the words written in the hearts of every American: all men are created equal.

Creeky January 31, 2013 at 03:38 AM
"Tell me, where are the marches when young children are murdered on the streets of Chicago, or New Haven, or Washington, or Detroit?" 20 children Lisa. 20. The last time the country saw anything like this, it was 19 children in Oklahoma City, 1995, and even then, the children didn't hit as hard, as their 168 lives lost in total. We can talk about what should or should not be, even one life is too many, but we're human, and emotional, and you'd be bordering on sociopathic if 20 children killed didn't haunt you like few things could. Are you sure you aren't just seeing racism everywhere, and jumping on the classism bandwagon, like some kind of stupid leftist? I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you have a sense a humor, but please don't miss the greater point if the joke was poor.
Creeky January 31, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Frankly, I'm disappointed in your conclusion. I think it shows what we're seeing a lot of in this debate, emotional response as a replacement for due diligence. There was an interesting article on Feinstein's last gun ban bill. I can't find it now because all the links are on the new bill (but, I'll look again and post the link if I do). Anyway, the author pointed out that Feinstein had referenced a specific gun violence research paper as argument in favor of increased restriction. Either she was too lazy to read it, or like most politicians, (correctly) assumed people are lazy and they wouldn't read it either. The paper actually concluded that reducing guns didn't reduce violent crimes, and may actually increase them. Do you really want to reduce gun violence in the cities? How far are you willing to go? Drug addicts don't use guns, they trade them for drugs. Drug dealers use guns. How about decriminalizing drugs and taking that gun buying income out of the inner city?
Creeky January 31, 2013 at 04:03 AM
I can't find the original article but, this appears to be an abbreviated version: http://www.newsmax.com/US/lott-gun-violence-weapons/2013/01/18/id/472112 And from 2005: http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jun/28/opinion/oe-lott28 I assume Lott is a lobbyist, but I've been trying to research this with an open mind. I'm surprised by how little actual research is being discussed. I own no guns, but detest the elimination of any freedom, regardless of my choice to exercise it. I'm trying to look at this with an open mind. So far, I'm against any ban, I don't think that an armed nation to keep tyranny at bay is crazy or outdated. Honestly, I didn't feel that strongly on that until I heard all the dems repeating "we aren't going to negotiate with ourselves." So, no debate, my way or the highway. Tyranny.
Creeky January 31, 2013 at 04:03 AM
One could argue they were elected, but our own Jim Himes ran on a platform of fiscal conservancy and reducing the deficit. Then he jumped on this mantra and the spend more/borrow more bandwagon. When I wrote him asking about his change of position (and I wasn't that soft in the way I expressed it), he wrote back that politics are complicated. I'm an engineer. I'm good with complicated. I think it's simple. Jim is corrupt. He lied to get in office. he couldn't care less about his constituents and the commitments he made. He only cares about his career in the party. I don't think tyranny is crazy anymore. Obama thinks 50% popular support is a mandate. How long before a president needs 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%? Am I expecting to fight a revolution in my lifetime? No. Do I think I can help prevent my children or their children fighting one against a corrupt and tyrannical government or party? Yes, by maintaining what we ahve now, which is 2 out of every five of your and my neighbors having a gun in the house. But, I'm okay with a law that it needs a lock or a safe. Frankly, I thought we already had that in Connecticut. Maybe no form of gun control cures crazy.
Lisa Bigelow February 01, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Creeky, Look, no one disputes the tragedy of what happened in Newtown. Another reader from another town observed that the horror of the crime sensationalizes it all on its own. A good point, but not one that takes away from the fact that mass shootings are far more rare than the everyday horror of what happens in cities like Chicago. For example, if I understand correctly, more than 500 mostly minority children were murdered in Chicago last year by guns. That number, in my view, is impossible to ignore and although we do not have those numbers here in CT my point is the same: handgun violence kills more victims than mass shootings do and the proposed legislation will do nothing to erase that. What other conclusion is there to draw? Seeing the tired, resigned looks on the urban leader's faces was enough for me. And, by the way, I'm not sure I would have believed it myself before `12-14-12. Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comments. Lisa

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