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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.

Chris B. January 29, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Great piece. Cities like Bridgeport need mandatory background checks and registration for every firearms sale. Over time, this would help keep guns away from people who should not have them.
Lisa Bigelow January 29, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Thanks for reading and writing in, Chris! Lisa
Ed Thomas January 29, 2013 at 09:53 PM
I have no problem with background checks. I do have a problem with a national database of gun owners in the hands of our federal government. That would make it way too easy to disarm the public, if they so choose. Trusting the government is definitely a bad thing. The 2nd amendment's primary purpose is to keep the tyranny of government at bay.
Steve January 30, 2013 at 02:34 AM
The good news is violent crime is down 50% over the last 20 years & is at its lowest rate since 1963. The bad news is just as described above, there is still a lot of violent crime in the inner cities primarily among minorities. As a society, we should always strive for as peaceful a society as possible, but that must be balanced with maintaining the freedom of the individual. Why has there been this significant decrease? So far, I have not seen a general consensus that researchers attribute with any particular demographic or cultural shift. This decrease has occurred despite (or because of?) an increase in the amount of firearms by some 66% (180 to 300 million). It does show, though, the correlation between the number of firearms circulating & the crime rate is virtually nil. I did not grow up in the inner city, so I don't have any direct experience. From what I've read it appears the vast majority of crimes in these areas are drug or gang related. Perhaps we need to rethink our 'war on drugs' & consider some alternatives. I suspect the breakdown of families & the drastic increase in single parents is not helping reign in crime either.
Steve January 30, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Chris, any firearm purchased from a dealer already requires a background check & even handguns purchased from another private citizen require an authorization from the state police in CT. This creates more or less de facto registration of handguns in CT. I'd be interested in hearing how registration would reduce crimes, as criminals cannot be prosecuted for not registering their guns as it would be violation of their right to not self incriminate themselves.

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