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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.

Mike Gamauf January 30, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Lisa, Well said! I agree with all of your points. I feel that the assault weapons and magazine issue is creating a divide among well meaning people on both sides of the second ammendment and creates an unnecessary delay in providing useful and meaningful legislation. I still believe that we need to address assault weapons and high capacity magazines is some manner other than banning, but we should concentrate on preventing any gun from being posessed by criminals or mentally ill persons.
Bernard January 30, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Truth be told Lisa, most dont care about people of color being killed or about urban crime. As long as our suburban homes and communities are safe, so what? Its when wbite folks get killed that we in largely segregated communities get scared and act. The fact that millions of dollars are being funneled to help an extremely affluent community recover is rather strange when $0 is often raised for urban victims recovery. Newtown was different and when kids were murdered in such a way it touches all of us. Yet, we should ask ourselves whether a New Haven parents kid's death by gun is any less tragic. The NRA uses urban gun violence as a tool to scare all of us into believing that we are under threat from these "criminals" (veiled reference) waiting to get us all the while ignoring the glaring fact that all the illegal guns on the street came from somewhere and more wont help. The NRA is a largely racist, propaganda machine that uses urban crime to scare rural and suburban white folks into arming themselves enough to maintain the status quo.
Joe Blow January 30, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Wow, somebody who actually thinks outside the box the liberals have created to strip law abiding citizens of their right to own firearms. It's a people problem not a gun problem. I almost have to laugh with legislation being proposed to ban firearms because of the way they look and magazine capacity both of which have NOTHING to do with the problem. You do realize in 2011 only 1 (one) person in the State of Connecticut was killed with a rifle of any kind. One error the author of this post is not aware of is background checks are already preformed for firearm sales in the state. The problem is the stolen ILLEGAL firearms that proliferate into the hood to be used in crimes. This, along with straw purchases which is also ILLEGAL is the problem. Try leaving law abiding citizens alone to live our lives and address the real problem, people.
Joe Blow January 30, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Spoken like a true liberal racist.
Ed Rowland January 30, 2013 at 02:12 PM
This is an issue with a very thin dividing line.Good points have been made on both sides of the debate.I'm thinking that background checks would work.Maybe make current legal gun owners have a background check done every few years much like the reissue of a drivers license.Who is to say where the line on mental illness is drawn.Is the line with anyone that seeks help for mental illness.Many of us may have had a problem with depression at one time and needed help and some type of medication.Does that stop us from owning a gun legally.Who is to say.I certainly don't want that letf to the legislature or the NRA.There has to be a line.
Bernard January 30, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Hpw are all these legal guns getting stolen. Oh yeah, legal gun owners being irresponsible and/or obtaining guns to sell to those seeking them. Criminals and those seeking to illegally protect themselves in really dangerous environments can count on a steady supply of these weapons because of the stockpiling of guns by legal owners stoked by NRA fear-mongering about urban crime coming to your door. They help to create the problem and then blame the victims for being in urban areas. @Joe:I recognize racism because I acknowledge my own. The foolish deny their thoughts, adjust their definition and never examine their own motivations. I never said I do not have racist thoughts but I am aware of them and actively work to change them.
Joe Blow January 30, 2013 at 02:56 PM
@john, your thinking process is so skewed it's laughable. Let's blame a legal gun owner for the crime of theft by a criminal. Are you for real? Liberalism 101. "NRA fear mongering about urban crime", excuse them for presenting fact (most of which come from the FBI data base), I know liberals like you hate those pesky little things called "facts". "They create the problem and blame the "victims" for being in urban areas", are you serious?? You want to blame "they", legal gun owners who are exercising their constitutional right to bear arms, for the deaths of "victims" in the hood who are killing each other with illegal firearms over a bag of crack. You need some serious mental help. Speak for yourself in regards to racism but to (once again) paint a whole organization, the NRA, as a racist group is insane. If you want to look at a racist organization try taking a look at the NAACP.
Bernard January 30, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Whole societies can be racist so its not surprising that an organization can have a racist orientation. Your posts speak for themselves Joe. Your anger and fear unmask you. That you bristle at this suggestion, when it has been made to you so often bespeaks a level of denial and lack of self-awareness unworthy of this time. Dont worry about the NAACP. They do not justify what you think. That's on you.
Joe Blow January 30, 2013 at 03:58 PM
@john, more B.S. with nothing to back it up. It is people like you who need racism to survive. Without it you would have nothing. "your anger and fear", lol, I fear nothing (including death) and anger is a pointless emotion, especially when dealing with stupidity. Yes, I do worry about an organization that perpetuates racism to service their own needs. They are part of the problem not the solution.
Bernard January 30, 2013 at 08:41 PM
You dont fear the society as it changes around you and in spite of you? You dont fear the scary liberals that are doing a hell of a job "destroying " the country? You dont fear the criminals that your guns secure you against? And you're not angry even though just about every post is negative, complaining or defeatest. Lord knows, middle-aged, gun-owning, suburban, tea party white males arent angry. Everybody knows that.
Joe Blow January 31, 2013 at 01:10 AM
@john, I'm sorry that you misinterpret calling you out on your B.S. as "negative, complaining or defeatist". I call it, telling the truth based on facts and figures along with living in reality. Once again your generalizations are laced with B.S. along with your racism and disdain for others who don't live in the fantasyland of liberals.
Bernard January 31, 2013 at 03:51 PM
What facts, what figures? The BS here is this entire discussion. I dont consider this a serious discussion because I dont really consider you to be rational. Ive heard every argument and assertion you've made a 1000 times by every gun enthusiast and tea party/libertarian conservative. My BS is that I think and dont rely on the same thinking that I ingrained 30 years ago. Rattling off ideological positions and biased arguments from other sources is not knowledge and opinion is not fact. I should probably be telling this to a wall because the effect would be the same
Joe Blow January 31, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Here are my thoughts (well actually P.T. Barnum's) "never argue with an idiot, they'll drag you down to their level and win every time with experience"
Lisa Bigelow February 01, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Joe Blow, As the author of this column I am well aware that background checks are already performed. Yet, as you are no doubt aware, there are a variety of ways to get around it. For example: under the current system, private buyers and sellers can easily circumvent reporting laws. Transactions occur at gun shows and even at state-sponsored buybacks. Sellers just want to get the most they can for their unwanted weapons. Buyers are willing to pay higher prices for convenience. And criminal buyers likely don't produce a permit, complete necessary paperwork or even produce proper ID. Result? Illegal guns. May I ask, do you acknowledge that there is a problem with gun-specific violence in this country? And what do you suggest be done about it? Thanks for reading. Lisa B.

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