An April 6 editorial from Hearst Connecticut Media:
Connecticut doesn’t have time to talk about guns.
Not that there hasn’t been a lot to talk about during the current Legislative session. Gov. Ned Lamont alone submitted 52 pages on the theme of enhancing gun safety. But the 2022 session, after all, only lasts 12 weeks.
“Unfortunately, some very good legislation became the victim of the calendar,” reasoned state Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport.
We’re closing in on the 10th anniversary of Connecticut’s grimmest day, when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Ten years seems like enough time for progress, but since adapting some of the toughest gun laws in the country in 2013, a pattern has emerged in Connecticut. Legislation is proposed, usually by Democrats, only to be countered by fierce opposition from across the aisle and loud gun lobbyists. The clock reliably runs out.
Consider what’s already been left on the cutting room floor beneath the gold dome in Hartford:
Legislation to limit purchase, sale or transfer of handguns to one a month. The goal was to prevent the weapons from being passed onto people who are not permitted to possess handguns.
Debate over a proposed firearms task force became tortured. It originally contained language that would have deemed gun violence a public health crisis, but suburban Republicans attempted to also include other items under the umbrella, such as knives and baseball bats. So the Louisville Slugger could have become a public health crisis. The proposal failed.
Some Republican pitches did not advance either, including a stand-your-ground proposal that would permit innocent targets of criminals to use deadly force in defense.
No one seems to disagree that rising violence in Connecticut needs to be addressed. It’s already become a firm plank in the campaign platform of Bob Stefanowski, who is seeking a rematch against Lamont for the governor’s seat. The pandemic has fueled violence across the nation, and Connecticut has not been spared.
The number of reported homicides in the state spiked from 77 in 2019 to 107 in 2020, the year of COVID’s arrival. During a recent five-day span, shootings in eight Connecticut municipalities left seven people dead and two wounded.
Advocates for gun safety seem resigned to take what they can get. CT Against Gun Violence Executive Director Jeremy Stein pinned hopes on the formation of a state commission to oversee community anti-violence programs in our cities. There’s also the potential of forming a working group to explore the feasibility of creating a state licensing system for dealers.
Progress related to gun safety can still emerge from this session. But lobbyists have made one thing clear after a decade: The people holding the guns still carry the power.