Murphy, Himes Lead Roundtable on Gun Control

The panel met in Stamford to discuss how Fairfield County residents, community leaders and politicians can push for change to state and national legislation.

Sen. Chris Murphy and Congressman Jim Himes joined local and state politicians, law enforcement officials and mental health advocates last week at the Yerwood Center in Stamford for a roundtable discussion on reducing gun violence in the city and the rest of Connecticut's urban areas and ongoing efforts to change gun and assault weapon legislation both on the state and national level in reaction to the Sandy Hook shootings.

According to Murphy, the roundtable, which included Rep. William Tong (D-141), Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau, CT State Police Major Bill Podgorski and Sherry Perlstein, executive director of Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, would serve as a conversation starter "to make sure that the laws we pass make the likelihood of shootings [like Sandy Hook] lower" and reduce the amount of "men and women in Stamford and across this state that are gunned down."

Murphy told attendees that he believes if Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza had to stop sooner to reload his weapon, more lives might have been spared.

"Clearly, in my mind, there is no reason why anyone should have access to a military-style assault weapon or a magazine clip that holds 30 or 100 bullets," he said. "I believe in my heart that there would be little boys and girls still alive today in Sandy Hook, Connecticut if the federal assault weapons ban was still in place and if that young man re-armed himself every 10 bullets instead of every 30 bullets."

Murphy also said that if Lanza would have had access to proper mental health services, the outcome of Dec. 14, 2012 might have been different.

"We have a system that directs an enormous number of errors, especially for young adults that want to seek help and for parents that want to seek help for their children," he said. "And so we need to have a conversation about how we can better make sure that there are resources available for those who have [mental] illness and may be prone to violence."

Himes said that advocating for tougher gun control laws is a "heck of a challenge" but if politicians, community leaders and residents work together, they could have enough impact to change the legislation locally and nationally. He warned attendees, however, about the "inflamed radical other side" that believes banning assault weapons violates the Constitution and specifically referred to his challenge of Texas Governor Rick Perry's views on gun safety and ownership.

"There is the possibility of changing the discussion at the national level because, frankly, the discussion is insane... The policy is insane nationally..." he said. "Any effort to have that commonsensical discussion about whether in fact anybody needs a 30-round clip is not acceptable. And the reason that discussion is not acceptable is because if the opponents of reasonable measures to reduce gun violence are forced into a discussion that is fact-based and data driven, they have not one piece of ground to stand on—nothing."

Treating Adolescents with Mental Illness

The discussion later turned to improving and increasing mental health services for students and their families and removing the existing stigma that those suffering from mental illness are more prone to violence.

Daniella Giordano, public policy director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) CT, told attendees that the state and the country needs to start looking at mental health illness as something that not only affects those that are afflicted and their loved ones, but everyone.

"It's about our children, it's about our communities that we all deeply care about..." she said. "And, first of all, it's about stepping away from who is affected by mental health issues. It's about all of us—whether it's someone that we care about who's struggling with something—including now the people in the Sandy Hook community and everyone in Connecticut, in the nation and the world. We need to think about this differently and not make this direct connection between people who have mental health challenges and violence because that absolutely not accurate... People with mental issues are much more likely to be victims of violence..."

Mirroring initiatives in President Obama's proposal to Congress addressing mental illness, the panelists also discussed the need for fully funded community-based health centers across nation, as well as funding to train mental health professionals so that adolescents aren't placed on waiting list to be diagnosed and treated.

julie criscuolo January 24, 2013 at 02:20 AM
I can suggest the PIG you can roast. LOL
julie criscuolo January 24, 2013 at 02:30 AM
BTW its 17 degrees and this will be a record cold week shouldn't these liberals be at some Global Warming Initiative to save the world. :-)
Michael S January 24, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Frederick Klein, The country has a parenting problem. I was raised with a respect of both women and firearms. At the age of 6 years old, my grandfather (US Army Vet after he immigrated from Italy) taught me to shoot. I was brought up as a gentleman. When When it was nice outside, they told me to go outside and play with friends and to come home when the street lights were on for dinner. I went out to play after my homework was done and they checked it. On Halloween, I went out with friends and walked door to door. I was 11 years old, my parents gave me "the talk" where I was taught about sex. They did not wait for the school system to teach me things, they were proactive and taught me everything I needed to live. I fear for the youth of America now, where they set "play-dates" and drive their kids door to door in their minivans for Halloween. They have no clue what a gun is, or how to treat it. They spend countless hours playing video games rated M (18+) when they are 13 years old because their parents are using it as a babysitting system.
Jim Eastwood January 24, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Good Morning Fred ! You are correct This Country does have a "Parent Problem" so evident here in Fairfield County. It's Not about Guns Nor mental health --It's really about "Buying you kid everything" and Never admitting that you as a Parent Have an Issue with you kid. Just Look around this county----(and it's Not every parent) How many New cars , cell phones, clothes, ETC do we see in the High Schools----Combine that with Kids(not All) who don't have to or choose not to work---What have you got?? Oh it's not My kid !!!! When this whole thing Plays out You may be surprised--It's Not a New Gun issue--we just need to enforce existing laws !!! Thanks Fred for you said it best !!!!! We Got a problem------!!!!!!
R. Ludlowe January 24, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Would live to see that source, if it exists.


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