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Rep. Bolinsky Promises Newtown Will 'Drive' Task Force

New to Hartford, freshman representative Mitch Bolinsky (R-106) says Newtown residents will have a say in legislation emerging from the new gun violence task force.

 

In Hartford, all eyes are turned toward Newtown -- and the 106th district, represented in Hartford by freshman Mitch Bolinsky, contains 85% of Newtown. Bolinsky, a former member of Newtown's legislative council, was elected to his first term in November and sworn in just one week ago.

He is one of three representatives on the state's bipartisan task force with constituents in Newtown. The task force will address gun violence, mental health and school security -- Bolinsky's role is in the latter -- and hopes to offer recommendations for major legislation by March. The task force will hold its first meeting at 1:30 Friday, an organizational meeting that should establish a schedule for delivering goals. 

Patch spoke with Bolinsky Thursday about the role he'll serve and his feelings on President Obama's proposed legislation.

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Patch: Do you think Hartford is receptive to the needs of Newtown residents?

Bolinsky: I think Hartford is going way out of its way to be sure it's receptive. We've definitely experienced something no other community has ever experienced, and I think there's an appreciation of that.

How do we as a government react to something so unfathomable and so new? As a legislator, I look at what's happening in Washington and I support everybody's desire to quickly quickly do the right things. From my perspective as a Newtown resident and representative, I've been on record all along that I'm a little bit leery of knee-jerk reactions. This is a strong community, with an awful lot of caring, love and respect for one another.

The leadership of Newtown -- First Selectman Pat Llodra and her team -- they took us through a grieving period which is not yet over. But we're already in the policy formation and reconstruction period. We're thinking about what's good for this community. The one thing I've insisted on is having the community completely engaged. We have and will continue to live through something no one else in the country has lived through. If you leave it to a politician who hasn't walked in those shoes, who the heck are we?

Patch: What will you be looking for as part of the discussion on safety in schools?

Bolinsky: I want to hear what the nuances are of the security, and hear ideas from what the community is locked in on at this point. There are calls for a police or security presence in our school. I think it's very clear or undeniable that we're going to have a presence in schools. But as far as whether it's public or private -- I'm not made up either way.

Patch: How about gun control -- specifically, the legislation favored by President Obama?

Bolinsky: As a legislator, my job is to enact common-sense laws that come from my community and advocate for what it is we think we need here. As far as gun control goes, that's nothing I have a say in. I have plenty of opinions -- it's obvious certain measures are necessary. As citizens of the U.S., whatever discussion or deliberation occurs on Obama's 23 points, we're going to live within the bounds of those laws. But as Newtowners, we're going to steer the process on the state level and we're not going to be shy about communicating what we feel about this.

Patch: What is Newtown's role?

Bolinsky: We're smart, we're strong and we were thrust into this role. From the perspective of gun control, school security and mental health -- how many communities in the US are actually going to get a seat in the table and something that could translate into a final say? We now have a responsibility, and this community is going to set an example for everybody. I'm proud of the start we've got and the collaborative nature, how civil and open we've been. Lesser communities would be arguing amongst ourselves. This is a pretty cool place.

Patch: You've mentioned grassroots organizations. Sandy Hook Promise is one a lot of folks have been talking about.

Bolinsky: Well, it's not my place to promote any one group, but Sandy Hook Promise is one that's on my radar and on my plate. I've been aware of their activities -- and that they want to approach this process with an open mind and with the opinions of the community as the keystone. I've committed to them that if they continue having this public promise and commitment, I will support whatever this community wants to do. My job is not to make up my mind and do things -- my job is to listen to the community, have them make up my mind, and make it happen. I don't believe my opinion is as important as theirs ... I believed from the beginning this is an issue Newtown should drive, and by golly, we're going to drive it.

Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com January 19, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I think its a fair question to ask our Newtown elected officals how they stand on gun controls. Hopefully its people over politics.
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Please define "high capacity" which is an incorrect term. If 10 is considered "high", why is 9 then "standard"? The 10-round threshold was first brought into legislation in California in 1989 following a school massacre in Stockton. Look up the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapon Control Act of 1989. Both the 10-round limit and the concept of "assault weapons" was first introduced into legislation by Democratic staffers in Sacramento quickly after that massacre. Even with the emotion of the time, the AWCA only passed by a handful of votes, in liberal California. Contemporaneous writings from the time suggest that the staffers had to pick the most effective words to pass the law. Yet, their law was focused on AK47 type rifles and machine pistols like the MAC-10 and TEC-9. It WAS NOT focused on traditional self-defense handguns otherwise they would have included the Browning Hi-Power and its 13-round capacity on the list of banned weapons. They did not. Since then, the gun control lobby has recycled and reshaped this flawed concept introducing the loaded term "high capacity" to the lexicon. This assumes that the average uninformed voter will be against something "high capacity" if it sounds deadly enough. I discuss this at length at these two posts. If you are truly open-minded, I ask you read them: http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/gun-violence-magazine-capacity-part-one http://weston-ct.patch.com/blog_posts/gun-violence-and-magazine-capacity-part-two-0a02c18d
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Lou Reda, did you grow up in Yonkers by chance? Brother John?
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Hopefully it is sensible, effective and enforceable policies over quarter-century old gun control ideology that has not been shown effective anywhere it is used. What happens if CAGV/March for Change and others get their way and then we have another rampage killer event? Can we then go back to all those who passed laws that proved ineffective and remove them from office? Will CAGV's rifle bans and mag limits finally be discredited? Or will they say that the laws were just not strict enough and they have to be stricter? If CAGV's AW bans and mag limits were an experimental drug with the 25-year history they have and the many adverse outcomes (massacres in ban states), CAGV would be laughed out of the FDA approval process. That point was made by a speaker in Hartford on Monday. Makes sense to me. If Newtown make Connecticut the focus of the nation, why don't we as a state become a THOUGHT LEADER on this rather than trying to out-do New York State by using 25-year-old ideas and come up with some really impactful change? I guess Malloy is worried about taking on Cuomo in 2016 and has to out-do him in a race-to-the-bottom. Is that leadership?
Thomas Paine January 30, 2013 at 06:22 PM
And for all of you calling for highly restrictive laws, passing the laws may be the first step, getting people to comply and enforcing them is the hard part. http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/gun-control-restrictions-and-compliance-not-what-you-think

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