Let the Gun Control Debate Begin

Governor Malloy’s State of the State address, the appointment of the Sandy Hook commission and the opening of the new legislative session marked the official start to the debate that will inevitably result in new gun control legislation for Connecticut.


This past week, I sat on the floor of the House for Governor Dannel Malloy’s State of the State address at the invitation of State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143).  The room was energized with the knowing smiles of campaign veterans and giddy, apple-cheeked newbies ready to put long-promised campaign ideals into practice. 

Gov. Malloy spent several choked-up minutes speaking about Newtown, the newly appointed Sandy Hook commission and the need for gun control. And although his speech was pretty darned light on the details of how to move the Connecticut economy forward (he actually spent more time waving the flags of accomplishment), he did get the soundbite of the day when he observed that the answer to the gun violence problem is not more guns.

Last week, and how to best respond to it. Most reader comments—and I read every single one, even if I don’t always respond—were insightful and rational.

Because Patch In and Patch Back are meant to encourage local debate about the issues of the day, rather than reply to each thread I decided to incorporate readers’ comments here:  

  1. Many asked, "Could someone please explain how mental health evaluations will stop crime?" The Sandy Hook assassin used guns taken from his mother, who acquired her weapons legally and presumably would have passed a mental health background check.
  2. Some said, "Maybe the answer to gun control IS more guns." No one talks about the number of people whose lives were saved after an armed citizen took out an unsuspecting attacker. Perhaps trained-and-packing staff could prevent future tragedies.
  3. Others observed, "Are you crazy? No one should have a gun except for members of law enforcement or the military, period." Do you really think your handgun or shotgun is going to keep you safe in the unlikely event the U.S. government storms your house?
  4. And finally: "A killer with conviction will still find a way to kill, gun or no gun." Remember Oklahoma City?

Many readers used statistics to solidify their points, the details of which I did not verify and will not report here. But lest this debate become a retread of I’ll see your safe and legal gun ownership statistic with an equally persuasive gun violence statistic and raise you with a heartbreaking anecdote, let us stop and reflect on some additional considerations.

First, as of this writing, there has been no credible information on the medicine the Newtown shooter may have been taking. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that he was, obviously, mentally ill. What, if any, treatments were made available to him? Did he engage in or refuse treatment, and why?

Second, law-abiding, gun-owning citizens are exposed to the same violent movies, video games and news every day that gun-owning criminals are. Nevertheless, most gun owners are able to resist these violent influences and make it through their lives without committing horrific crimes (or having their weapons stolen for the purpose of committing horrific crimes). Does this fact render the cultural influence argument moot?

Third, shouldn't the purpose of this legislation be to reduce violence in all its forms, not just reduce the number or type of guns sold in Connecticut? And if that is the case, don't we need to address the serious mental health treatment issue in this country?

The ugly truth is that any current or future Connecticut gun control legislation, no matter how strict, is impotent if a crazed person decides to commit a mass killing. Securing a weapon, is, apparently, a simple matter for a determined criminal.

The nature of these tragedies is such that civilized society is compelled to act. And yet, this compulsion to “do something” often results in feels-good, does-nothing, time-squandering legislation.   

The gun control debate, up until now, has always resulted in a stalemate because both sides are well armed (no pun intended) with equally persuasive statistics and advocates. Nevertheless, the Second Amendment is clear: the people have the right to keep and bear arms and the Supreme Court of the United States has twice ruled in recent few years to uphold #2.

As a result, our best approach is de-stigmatizing psychological illness to encourage family members to seek help for those who need it most and by making that help readily available. Perhaps we should make a thorough mental health evaluation part and parcel of the well visit (let’s put Obamacare to work!). We should also implement an “if you see something, say something” approach to potential public safety threats.

Just to be clear, I’m no mental health expert. But the approaches we’ve used thus far clearly aren’t working. Anyone who would attack a school, or a movie theater, or a military base, or a mall, or an office is clearly in need of treatment.

Finally, let us remember that more legislation is only better legislation if it provides real value and lasting positive change.

MAC January 19, 2013 at 05:25 PM
For AZ, on the ^necessity^ of the 2nd Amendment--summary, including video link, see this: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/16/nrthings-you-never-knew-about-the-second-amendment/ ..."'other world governments trampled peoples rights… the idea was to prevent the government from ever trampling our rights.' He [historian David Barton] added that unlike any country in Europe, Americans insisted the government could not touch what God had given them. "The Founders also used the philosophical term 'laws of nature and nature's God,' which Barton informed is contained in Blackstone’s commentary on the law. The idea is that certain things come to one from nature, such as the deep-seated biological mechanism of self-defense. The historian also noted that James Wilson, a signer of both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence noted that the law of nature is to defend oneself, and that — through the castle doctrine —^^ a private citizen failing to defend his home or family — even with deadly force — would be considered negligence." ^^... "Barton addressed the founding of the NRA. While some like to demonize the pro-Second Amendment group and even call it prejudiced, it turns out the powerful group was in fact started by two Union generals in 1871 as a means to driving out the Ku Klux Klan and ensuring that blacks, who although then-free were not allowed means with which to defend themselves — could in fact legally own a gun."...
J MAC January 20, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Indeed, modern gun control, 1970's and on, started at a state level in California in order to hinder the Black Panthers who were effectively using arms to protect blacks from undue police brutality, interesting to note it was also a conservative initiative that Reagan supported as governor. Likewise, in the last decade the rampant erosion of economic and civil liberties in confluence with a rapidly devaluing monetary system, is cause for concern for any sensible citizen. If Mr. Obama were to, by executive order, infringe on the right for normal citizens to protect themselves, he would be guilty of insurrection of oath of office and perhaps treason. The immediate disposal of the POTUS would be justified and necessary to preserve the hope of liberty, peace, and prosperity. It is the duty of the congress and the SCOTUS to remove the POTUS in times of insurrection and treason, but if they fail to act the duty duly falls upon the people. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. " -Thomas Jefferson
canaan guy January 22, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Concerned Parent & Gun Owner, you have too much time on your hands to type those long responses. Gun owner here as well, but dude. relax. Check your meds.
Thomas Paine January 22, 2013 at 05:24 PM
CG - I type quite fast. I also do not read the sports pages and I have avoided the playoffs this season (Giant's fan) so plenty of free time. Even got to the range this weekend. Meds consist of Molson, Beefeater and cabernet, in moderation of course. CG, I continue to worry that this "discussion" on the topics of the day are being dominated by one side of the discussion and it is not the side to which you and I are more partial. I can not sit back and let foolish and ineffective ideas be promoted as "solutions" when we know they will solve nothing. Worse, things like a magazine capacity limit will provide a false sense of security and, if passed, might actually prevent some other really important ideas (like mental health issues with rampage killers), from getting their proper attention. I would be interested in your comments on this: http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/gun-violence-magazine-capacity-part-one If you feel like commenting (beyond the word count) please do so there. I am interested in the thoughts of others who will be familiar with the subject matter. Thanks for your concern.
clint January 23, 2013 at 09:09 PM
FYI: Why Governments Disarm Citizens History shows without exception that governments are corruptible and over time become tyrannical. Americans must accept this as truth or they will never have freedom and liberty. History also provides examples of peoples disarmed by their governments. Gun control was implemented for ‘reasonable’ purposes in : Ottoman Turkey, 1915-1917, results : 1.5 million Armenians murdered Soviet Union, 1929-1945, results : 20+ million civilians murdered * the number has recently been updated to include up to 60 million Nazi Germany 1933-1945, results: 20 million civilians murdered Nationalist China, 1927-1949, results: 10 million civilians murdered Red China, 1949-1976, results: 35 – 60 million civilians murdered Guatemala 1960-1981, results 200,000 civilians murdered Uganda 1971-1979, results: 300,000 civilians murdered Cambodia 1975-1979, results: 2 million civilians murdered Rwanda 1994 , results 800,000 Tutsi people murdered


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