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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.

bart January 09, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Can CT get gun control. THE ANSWER IS NO unfortunitly there are 2 guns for every citizen out there already in other words A DAY LATE DOLLAR SHORT.
JWolf January 10, 2013 at 01:17 PM
The thing is people who dont have permits do not know the process. Part of the application is a form that asks if you have been in the care of a mental health physician and they do check. FBI,State and Local checks via fingerprints are also mandatory in CT. Most incidents with firearms are due to gangs and criminals basically people who do not care about the law. The jackass , I will never say his name as it makes him famous, broke I believe it was over 10 laws in his disgusting actions in Sandy Hook. He did not care about the law. People are touting about the need of more Gun Laws and what I would like to see is a statistic of incidents with Licenced Gun Owners. I have said for years ALL people who want a gun should have a permit or Licence much like anyone who wants to drive needs one. There should be a standard set as well nationally thereby making a permit legal like a drivers licence in all 50 states. The same requirements across the board will also make sure some jerk doesnt go to another state with less or no laws and purchase a weapon. However inacting more loaws will not curb violence. I have seen that the FBI numbers show that knives, baseball bats and other implements have been used more often than guns in violent attacks. Also that large attacks Sandy Hook, Colimbine,Oregon,Virginia Tech all the attackers have been on Mental Stability drugs. The other issue is how about showing how many crimes have been stopped by licenced gun owners
JWolf January 10, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Also , sorry ran out of room, Have you noticed that the rapes and break ins that were occuring in New Fairfield have stopped since the father killed his adopted son when the son attacked him with a knife wearing that ski mask in the dark. Should be also noted that the media as well as Sharpton and Jackson have vanished from the Trevon Martin case once the FACTS started surfacing. We must stop as a country running on just emotion and gather facts before reacting.
Roberto Bongo January 10, 2013 at 10:45 PM
rlbongo The recent tragedy in Newtown is beyond belief. We pray for those angels and their families. To protect the children in schools, we should have a policeman in the offices until we decide what to do with the situation. In the future, maybe we can have a teacher trained to carry and protect our children in the school. Some people have demanded weapons control of a sort, but we know that the bad guys will get them anyway on the black market. If weapons destroy people, what else can do the same? How about drunk drivers? Shall we go back to probation days, but you know what happen then? How about the new laws for medical marijuana? Let’s say they drive a vehicle and injury some people. Let’s get them off the road. How about prescription drugs, should we pass a law against using them? The real problem in my estimation is psychological in nature. Where are all the people that were in Fairfield Hills or Wingdale Route 22? On the streets, maybe? These are the people who must be watched and contained if necessary. If you know someone who is mentally challenged, don’t teach them how to use weapons. Parents must also be responsible and get help for these people. I agree that no one except military or police should have assault weapons or large clip ammo. It would be great to pass this law, but not to prevent qualified individuals from having protection for their families. That would be people who are trained and cleared by our law enforcement.

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