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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.

Ralph January 09, 2013 at 06:02 PM
I am sorry to say it's all too late. The genie is out of the bottle. The amount of automatic and semi automatic guns, high capcity clips, killer ammunition that is already in circulation would make a small country's army quiver in fear. We can ban anything we want and I know we have to do something if for no other reason not to feel completely impotent. Unfortunetly that is exactly what we are in the face of a crazed and determined person who wants to commit murder and is not afraid or willing to die. I think we have to try though. We need to enact very strick laws banning all automatic and semi automatic weapons, high capacity clips and killer ammo. We need to require gun safes and put down laws holding the gun owners responsible if the weapons (legally owned) that are used in a crime. Tough penalty's and hard time for use of a weapon during any crime. Life if anyone is killed. It's all just a pipe dream though, my guess is there will be a lot of posturing in Hartford and other capitols around the country and in Washington. There will most likely be nothing or at least nothing substantial from any legislature. Then, I am sorry to say, something else horrible will happen again. I really want to be wrong about this but you know I am probably right, But if not after this tragedy then when? God Bless Newtown.
Paul Alexander January 09, 2013 at 06:07 PM
So far there has been no "debate" and no "conversation" on this issue. Just "lecturing". The terms "debate" and "conversation" are thrown around to give the PERCEPTION of evenhandedness on the issue. The end result has already been determined and there will be nothing evenhanded about it.
Tim January 09, 2013 at 08:37 PM
"We need to enact very strick laws banning all automatic and semi automatic weapons, high capacity clips and killer ammo." And this is why we can't have a reasonable debate... STUPID comments like this one. First, you can not just walk into a gun shop and buy a full auto weapon. These are already virtually banned for civilians. Second, you are never going to ban all semi-autos. My Colt .45 is a platform that has been around since 1911. It's an antique, not an "assault weapon" but it is semi-auto and you're NOT going to take it away from me. Lastly, what the hell is "killer ammo"? All bullets can kill, but I've never heard of a type of ammunition called "killer ammo". If we're talking about armor piercing rounds, they already are illegal.
Tim January 09, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Apparently, you're right. And Biden, knowing the GOP House won't go along with this crap, has already signaled that they may enact new gun control measures by executive order, aka, iron-fisted fiat.... he thinks the executive branch is a politburo.
Ralph January 09, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Well maybe I don't have all the right terms down or all the right detailed information about the types of weapons and calibers, maybe I didn't take into account the historical aspect of the 2nd amendmend enough, you know how we have to protect ourselves against the tyrany of the King and all that stuff, pehaps I didn't know enough about the difference between an assault rifle and a semi automatic hunting rifle. Obviously I don't know a darn thing about ammunition (I will read up).....etc...etc...etc... Please excuse my ignorance. I am hopeful that one of the brilliant legislators we have in Hartford or Washington can come up with a solution to hopefully prevent the misue of firearms but crazed suicidal gunman and hopefully prevent the SLAUGHTER OF ANOTHER 20 CHILDREN AND 6 AUDULTS. Until then, I will see you out on the range!
Tim January 09, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Yes, perhaps they can follow the Diane Feinstein model of an "assault weapons" ban... that is flip through magazines and choose which ones to ban based on that they "look" like. Unless politicians take the time to educate themselves before drafting and passing legislation we will always have a problem. For instance, California's assault weapons ban prohibits many features on AR platform rifles if it has a "detachable magazine". How did the gun manufacturer's get around this? They made the magazine release button recessed so it required a "tool" to remove. Turns out that "tool" is simply a bullet tip to access the recessed release button. Now, it's no longer legally a "detachable magazine" because it requires a "tool" to remove. And now one can legally own an AR rifle with collapsible stock, pistol grips, etc. We don't need a ban on all semi-auto weapons. We need not just reasonable laws, but educated politicians drafting them. Without the latter, we can't have the former. And I'm sick and tired of firearms illiterate politicians pretending they know what they're talking about. They don't, they sound like fools.
Freddy January 09, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Jeez. Yes, and Obama was born in Kenya and is the next Hitler, so you better arm up with your AR-15's now to be ready for the predator drones when they come for you (btw, you'd lose that one - ask the Taliban). If you actually bother to read Biden's comments, its clear they are going to take actions that they legally are able to take without legislation, such as doing a better job of enforcing EXISTING law, even if they can't get gun control legislation through Congress. This is not Stalin taking away the weapons.... Lay off the tin foil.
Kelley Anne January 09, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Tim, were you howling when Ronnie Reagan forced gun control on Americans? http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ronald-reagan-helped-pass-the-1994-assault-weapons-ban/
Tim January 09, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Freddy, they don't need to pass an executive order to enforce current gun laws. They just need to DO IT. I'm not suggesting one person with an AR-15 could or would go against a predator drone. That's just stupid. However, there are over 300 million firearms owned by civilians in this country, and counting. Gun shops have had a rush on just about everything from rifles, to handguns, to ammunition. FBI reports record numbers of background checks (over 2 million in December alone). So rather than sound like an idiot, why don't you think for yourself. Millions of guns in the hands of millions of law abiding American citizens, is a deterrent to prevent against a tyrannical central government. And, no, I'm not suggesting a violent revolution. We're nowhere near that point. If you like a nation with strict gun control, why don't you move to Mexico. There's a place with tough gun laws and no gun violence... sort of like Chicago.
Tim January 09, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Kelley, Reagan had nothing to do with the 1994 assault weapons ban, but he was anti-gun. As California governor he signed into law the banning of open carrying of firearms. As President, he banning the carrying of firearms in national parks. Thankfully, President Obama undid that, singing into a law legislation that allowed for concealed carry of handguns in our national parks in compliance with state laws. Thank you Mr. President.
Paul Alexander January 10, 2013 at 02:15 AM
I look forward to all the executive orders issued by the Prez related to the mental health angle, the violent video game and film angle, and the drug angle of this tragedy..
Mr D. January 10, 2013 at 06:06 AM
It cracks me up when people expect Obama to issue executive orders for everything. Turns out of the last 14 presidents, Obama and W. were the two with the lowest average of executive orders per year in office. See http://news.investors.com/investing/101112-629023-a-column-ripe-for-ignoring.htm
Arrjay January 16, 2013 at 02:10 AM
WARNING From Pravda! posted Dec 28, 2012. By Stanislav Mishin The headline: "Americans never give up your guns" "These days, there are few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bear arms and use deadly force to defend one's self and possessions.... "For those of us fighting for our traditional rights, the US 2nd Amendment is a rare light in an ever darkening room. Governments will use the excuse of trying to protect the people from maniacs and crime, but are in reality, it is the bureaucrats protecting their power and position. In all cases where guns are banned, gun crime continues and often increases. ..." (As in Chicago?) http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/28-12-2012/123335-americans_guns-0/ IMHO This President is a tyrannical socialist in the mold of his mentors; Barack Obama Sr, Frank Marshall Davis, Saul Alinski. He knows no other way. As a Progressive in the matrix of Rahm Emanuel; "Never let a good crisis go to waste," President Obama is implementing the massacre of CT to his advantage and taking one more step to demolish another bedrock of freedom in America.

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