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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Bullet Tax in the Mix as Legislators React to Newtown

By Mark Pazniokas

One of the gun-control measures to be proposed in January to the Connecticut General Assembly would treat ammunition like cigarettes—as a health hazard that should be heavily taxed to offset the public costs of gun violence.

Others would restrict the sale of ammunition to licensed gun owners, limit the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds or fewer and tighten the state’s ban on assault weapons.

Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, who knows the parents of Ana Marquez Greene, one of the 20 first-grade students shot to death in Newtown, said today she will seek a 50 percent tax on ammo.

Ammunition purchased and used at firing ranges would be exempt, she said.

Click here for more of story


Posted 12/20/12 at 02:30 AM


Comment Policy

Proposals like this ridiculous one are what will probably doom any rational gun legislation.  Background check every gun deal; I support it 100%, ban high capacity magazines; I have no problem with it.  Turn every CT hunter and gun owner/shooter against you and tie up the CTGA with proposals like this and I can guarantee you nothing will happen.

Posted by John Harder on December 20, 2012 at 04:51 AM | #

What a stupid proposal.  Who is gonna’ check to see that the untaxed ammo is used at a range? Further, the ten round maximum capacity idea is thoughtless at best…now a gunman can kill only ten kids in a nanosecond or perhaps 20 if he wants to carry two, ten round guns.

Proposals like these will keep any meaningful proposals off the house floor forever.

Posted by Daniel Katz on December 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM | #

There are many proposals that the NRA and all gun owners will support to limit certain rifle platforms and accessories to military and law enforcement.  This proposal is not one of them.

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM | #

Every single one of us needs to write our Reps and insist that this proposal be correctly/properly written.  As in, we simply do not need assault weapons in the hands of the average citizen and background checks need to be thoroughly done.  I’d like to honestly comprehend why you even need these to shoot at ranges?

Also, more monies need to be set aside for mental health, not cut from the budget.  As has been shown from all these massacres, it’s patently obvious that it’s a severe breakdown in our mental health system, too.

Finally, was she serious when she referred to this as a “health hazard” in her proposal, or is this someone else’s sick/twisted wording?

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on December 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM | #

Jean Marie,

CT has an assault weapons ban and requires background checks for gun shows.

The real problem with assault weapons is that no one really knows what one is.  It’s really a cosmetic thing.  They function the same as my .22 rifle and my duck hunting gun.  The ban forbids certain weapons by name (such as the AK-47) but otherwise it’s based on characteristics.  Basically it becomes an “assault weapon” if it has more than 2 of several things.  A pistol grip, a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel, an attachment for a bayonet, an attachment for a grenade launcher or a folding stock.  It has nothing to do with how the weapon actually functions.  I have no interest in owning one of the military type weapons.  What needs to go are the high capacity magazines.

Posted by John Harder on December 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM | #

What needs to go are people that drive without insurance or drivers licenses, but they are still going to drive.

Child molestation is illegal, but it still happens.

Shoplifting is against the law, but people still pocket candy from Cumberland Farms.

Limiting or elimination of “things” isn’t going to do it unless it is a reasonable thing to do to start with. None of the measures talked about by our officials is.  Most of these ideas are reactionary, and with good reason. 

I have heard more realistic ideas from people that actually want the issue solved.  Know why?  They have no agenda other than to fix the problem.   

All I am saying is to respond, and do not react.

There is so much to fix with what’s wrong, it is a daunting task to start looking at.  However; much of it has occurred over the last 30-40 years and is so ingrained now, it will never be corrected. 

The morality and culture of America has, is and will continue to decline because in our litigiousness and our politically correct craziness has taken us there. 

Who was not afraid of not only their own parents but also your friends’ parents as well as if they were your own.  Now you cannot look at a child funny without being dragged into the police station. 

Even Dr. Spock is rolling in his grave of what we have become.  Surely, this was not his intent, but he holds some responsibility for sure.

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 20, 2012 at 05:26 PM | #

John, I agree w/ you that the high capacity clips need to be banned altogether.  There is absolutely no reason, at least none that I can possibly think of that they’re needed.  It turns your .22 rifle into an assault rife and I’m fairly sure you don’t need that, nor do you require it for your duck hunting gun.

The clips this woman had in her home were not necessary and are what need to be banned.  All the guns she owned, including the Bushmaster were legal, I understand that; I double checked the list of what’s legal in CT and that particular gun wasn’t on it.

I agree 100% that it’s the high capacity clips that need to be eliminated.  We’ve no need for them, even if we “claim” they’re for target shooting.

I still hold firm to my earlier statement that we need to do better w/ background checks as well as mental health issues not only in this state but across the nation.  Each of these massacres have been committed by a mentally ill individual in serious need of mental health who has fallen through the cracks for one reason or other.  It cannot happen again.

It also goes back to: if you see something, you damn well are responsible for speaking up and saying something even if you run the risk of being incorrect.  Better safe than sorry.  You may save a life in the process.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on December 20, 2012 at 06:10 PM | #

If ‘high capacity’ magazines aren’t necessary, then why do the police have them?

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 06:22 PM | #

They have to b/c the criminals have them.  If the PD gets into a shootout w/ them, what do you want them to do, stop every 2 seconds to reload and get shot.  Seriously.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on December 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM | #

I agree with you. 

I hate to judge people but one thing that really bothers me about this is what was this mother thinking?

The kid obviously had some serious mental health issues and generally everyone who has met him has said he was rather strange.  I can’t conceive of why this mother would want to get her son involved in shooting sports.

I own numerous firearms (and I’ll admit I’m an NRA member) and have a 9 month old daughter.  I’ve told my wife that if my daughter were to ever exhibit signs of mental illness every gun and bullet I own would be out of the house.  Own a gun is a right but it also comes with great responsibility.  I’d make my house as safe as possible and we’d be cutting steak with butter knives.

As a gun owner this tragedy for me is a game changer.  When I look at these children’s faces I see my daughter.  The other night I woke up crying because I had a nightmare of these beautiful children crying, huddled together as bullets tore into their bodies.  I want changes.  But the changes I want to see are ones that will be meaningful.  Not ridiculous proposals like taxing bullets.

Posted by John Harder on December 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM | #

Yeah, gotta tell you the truth.  I kinda feel the same way the PD does about magazine capacity.

I do not wish to be in the postion needign to stop every few seconds to reload and get shot either. 

Incidently, on 12/17/12, there was a great WSJ article written by David Kopel.  “Guns, Mental Illness and Newtown”

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 20, 2012 at 06:40 PM | #


You are a good man, do not let this tear your insides out. 

A very wise person told me:  “Don’t picture children who felt fear, but rather, picture them smiling and sitting at the feet of Jesus. Fear was fleeting, love is eternal.”

We need to respond to these things, not react.

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 20, 2012 at 06:45 PM | #

Exactly Jean Marie, exactly! They need them because the criminals do!
As long as the criminals have them so should we to protect our families.
The conversation for gun control should start with how do we take the guns away from the criminals. It’s easy to take them away from law bidding citizens, unfortunately you just created more victims and the criminals know it.
I know it seems counterintuititive, but ‘Gun Free Zones’ don’t keep children safe, however, trained people with legal guns do.
It is very unfortunate, but that is how our society has become.
It’s understandable to demand something be done. I wish it were that easy. Every one of us is sickened by this horrible act.
I do believe in gun control and we have it, yet it still doesn’t stop the violence.
Between ‘94 - ‘04 there was an assult weapon ban, yet it did not slow down the shootings.
Chicago, D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit have the strictist gun control laws on the books and have for decades, yet those cities have the highest murder rates by guns than other cities that don’t.
We have to think different to solve this problem. We MUST protect the most innocent among us, this should of never happened, but slogans and good intentions are NOT going to do it.
We must take a defensive stand to protect all of our children.
I am absolutely heart broken over this. Beleive me if I thought ‘gun control’ was the answer, I would be the first one to cheer it on. Unfortunately, history has clearly shown it is not.
You are on the right track, we are all demanding action, but lets make damn sure it actually works and isn’t just some false sense of security that makes us feel good.
Whatever you suggest or anyone else, I will ask, ‘how does that help today, how does that help our children tomorrow morning?’
Banning cetain guns, when there are millions out there in the hands of criminals already, does nothing today to protect the most vulnerable.
I hope everyone rethinks their beliefs, abandons agendas and politics to come up with solutions that really work.

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 06:48 PM | #

Yes, John, I have said the same thing. This very sick individual could not have gotten a gun leagally due to his mental issues.
I would strongly support gun control laws that would force you to surrender your weapons if someone who is determined not to be of sound mind, which will be an issue, lives at that residence.

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM | #

That law does exist in CT.  It’s sort of known as the “Turn in your neighbor” law.  Basically if you think someone is mentally unstable and you know they have access to firearms you can call the police.  I think there must be some kind of a threshold of evidence but the police will seize the weapons and store them at the PD until the issue is resolved.  The law was very controversial in CT when it passed and I wasn’t a big fan of it.  There was a fear that any time 2 neighbors got into a fight about a tree or stonewall or anything that the law could be used in the disagreement.

Posted by John Harder on December 20, 2012 at 07:22 PM | #

John Harder, I agree w/ you that guns belong in the hands of responsible citizens, handguns, rifles and duck hunting guns that you mentioned, but w/o the high capacity clips.  There’s no need for them, whatsoever.

I also agree w/ your assessment of this monster’s mother.  I’d love to know what was going through her mind, too, knowing her son’s mental issues and having that many rounds of ammo in the house as well as that kind of weaponry.  Makes me question her sanity, or rather her denial of his mental status.  Granted, we’re hearing reports that she was preparing to put him in an institution, but we don’t know the truth of that.

I fully respect the wisdom of your decision to get rid of your guns if you ever saw any evidence of mental issues w/ your daughter.  For a variety of reasons, I hope you never do; the anguish of the experience alone, being the top one.  I’ve witnessed parents who’ve had to go through it, so I pray it’s something you don’t have to.

John Raho, I stick to my sentiments regarding gun rights; there’s no viable reason for the average citizen to own these assault weapons nor the high capacity clips.  I’ll grant you that during the ban, we may not have seen the drop we would have liked and I believe that was b/c there were too many loopholes such as gun shows, and inter-state.  This needs to be a nationwide ban and I can already hear Texas screaming from the rooftops.  But, there have been too many deaths across this country for all the states to not be on board w/ this.  Sadly, criminals will always find a way to get their target and their weapons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to end this.  Children need to grow up w/o being in fear of going to either the Mall or school or the movies. None of us need to fear leaving the safety of our homes.  How many more rallying cries do we need.  I hope none.

I broke into tears, the other day, in a clothing store when I saw children’s sweaters.  A cop friend of mine was there that day and had to triage the surviving children w/ their parents.  He didn’t know what to do when all the kids had been matched, but there were still parents, waiting.  And waiting.  No one should have to go through that.

May God Bless the 1st Responders who were there that day; their lives are forever changed, too.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on December 20, 2012 at 08:14 PM | #

Gun Safety Amendments
Require class time, range time, testing, permits and registration for ALL weapoms.
Require Urinalysis
Require Character references
Require Background checks on ALL residents of the house where the weapons are stored.
Weapon owner agrees to ‘spot checks’ by NRA rep., Police or, National Guard to verify weapons are unloaded, locked and stored safely and, that ammo is stored separately from weapon.
Increase costs for compliance with all the above.

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 20, 2012 at 09:11 PM | #

Jean Marie, I would like to see very strict Punishment for those who use guns for crime. I propose, if you use a gun for crime you get 25 - 50 years, if that gun goes off, accidental or not, you get life in prison with no possibility of parole. If you kill or injure someone, then you shall receive the death penalty.
I guarantee you this would drastically reduce gun violence immediately. For those who say capital punishment does not deter crime, I say look at countries where they do have serve punishment for crimes. It’s almost non existent.
If we continue with 30+ years on death row with endless appeals, then no, it’s not much of a deterrent. But if these criminals were sentenced and put to death within 24 months then it will be very effective.
For those who say my proposal is extreme, I say so are these crimes and extordinary measures must be taken.
When I hear generic calls for gun control or how we must treat mental health, while things can be done to improve the situation, it is not enough nor will it take affect soon enough.
We must think differently if we want to have real solutions that will work today.
I think how we have treated drug use with the war on drugs or how we have treated poverty with the war on poverty and I don’t have much confidence in these broad concepts.
We have tried some of these methods already (D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia) and they don’t work.
Now let’s try something else.
Please. This can never happen again.

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 09:11 PM | #

Both Mr. Demmerle and Mr. Raho make sound and interesting arguments…..However, please NEVER ask me to allow the NRA into my home…they are the prime inhibitor of the passage of sane gun control regulations because politicians just ain’t got the gonads to go against the powerful NRA lobby machine.

Posted by Daniel Katz on December 20, 2012 at 09:19 PM | #

John Harder, We should not have to hope an acquaintance or family member does the right thing. There needs to be a national database that cross references persons at some level of mental capacity with their address and if legal guns are present they must be surrendered.
I know the definition of mental capacity and medical privacy laws ate a huge hurdle, but a standard must be set if it we are serious.
It is a multifaceted problem that should include some types of graphic video games too.
An assault weapon ban is politically advantageous to talk about, but really does not do much. Case in point, the would be shooter would then just use 9mm semi automatic pistols.
Let’s drop the politics and implement real solutions that will work. And if that means making schools safe by making them ‘fortress’ like until these new regulations are enacted and proven, so be it.
We didn’t go soft on airplane security after 911 while other measures were put into place Why do so now?

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM | #

Apologies for typos and such, but I’m busy doing other things and typing this on an iPhone. I wanted add another perspective to the conversation and I’m tired of hearing the same arguments being made when they have done nothing.
New ways of thinking is required to make sure this will never happen again. No parent should ever have to live with this pain and no child as innocent as they were should ever have to live through the terror they did. Especially at school where they felt safe and secure with friends and teachers who loved them.
Everyone one of us should make it our mission to see to it.

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 09:56 PM | #

Mr. Demmerle, I agree with most of your gun owner requirements and would add another one.
As part of the education I would add real crime scene photos or videos, similar to the ones we viewed in driver’s ed. in school.
They would make one think twice about gun safety and always secure guns in a safe of at least locked.
I would also add a gun safety class for rifles and shotguns similar to the one required for hand guns.
Education and regulations will help, but not prevent these tragedies. Other measures must be taken to ensure safety.

Posted by John Raho on December 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM | #

The bullet tax may not be the best idea, but all ideas should be on the table and not branded as ridiculous, or subversive, or even “political” for heaven’s sake.

People, we must discuss reasonable controls on weapons that are continually killing our fellow citizens.

Read what the judge who sentenced the shooter in the Tucson massacre wrote.

He concludes: “There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden.

“It speaks horribly of the public discourse in this country that talking about gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting is regarded as inappropriate or as politicizing the tragedy. But such a conversation is political only to those who are ideologically predisposed to see regulation of any kind as the creep of tyranny. And it is inappropriate only to those delusional enough to believe it would disrespect the victims of gun violence to do anything other than sit around and mourn their passing. Mourning is important, but so is decisive action.”

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 20, 2012 at 11:52 PM | #

oh and by the way, the judge is a conservative Republican.

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 20, 2012 at 11:54 PM | #

Being an NRA member and supporter for many years I can tell you what and where their position comes from.  It’s the old “give an inch take a mile” idea.  Many of the politicians in the past who talk about “reasonable” gun control in public are the same ones who behind the scenes tell people that if they could they would ban and confiscate every gun in this country.

That was before last Friday….

Now you are seeing politicians who are strong gun supporters saying that these killings have to end.  Until last week I would have been one of the people who says to just enforce the current laws.  I think we need to look at more solutions to this so that we don’t keep burying children.

Posted by John Harder on December 21, 2012 at 12:20 AM | #

And I applaud you for that.  This is what is needed for meaningful change.  And the NRA is holding a news conference tomorrow. We’ll see if they are willing to change.

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 12:40 AM | #

I agree with your sentiment John, however I seriously question the effectiveness of such laws since that have proven NOT to work.
I feel other methods are necessary if we truly want to protect our children.
For the sake if argument, say we do have new stricter gun control (whatever that is) and mass shootings still occur. Then what?
Why does it not work in the deadliest cities in America who have the strictest gun laws? Why did it not work for the 10 years we did have an assault weapon ban?
Do you know what does work? I’m sure you already know, legally armed citizens. These cowards go for the easy targets and don’t shoot or attack known armed establishments or armed citizens.
It may not be what people want to hear, but it’s the truth.
If you genuinely care and want to put a stop to this madness, you will consider alternate ways.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM | #

It is clear that people with widely divergent views concerning gun control are poised to reach an accord on stricter gun safety laws.  It would be a pity if political ideology created a polarization that would thwart constructive amendments to the gun laws.

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 21, 2012 at 12:59 AM | #


I have a handgun permit and I occasionally do carry one.  If someone were attacking my wife or child what I would want is someone there with a gun and not just a cellphone to call the police and wait for them to show up.  I agree that legal permit holders are not the problem.  From the training that I’ve had I think the average gun fight lasts something like 3 shots.  It also occurs where the shooters are within 20 feet of each other.  At that point either one person is down or has run away.  Uniformed police for some reason carry 45 rounds in their full size weapons.  14 in the magazine one in the chamber and two full magazines on their belt.  Much of this comes from the Miami FBI shootout in the 1980s when the agents had revolvers and were killed while reloading.  The reason I remember this is because I was a child living in Plantation, FL.  For some reason many of my friends fathers were FBI agents and it was before cell phones so we were all outside waiting to hear if their fathers were alive.  Having a 10+ round magazine is really unnecessary.  I’m pretty sure that even detectives carry the compact/subcompact autos that only hold 10 or less rounds.  The only reason you need a high capacity magazine is to stay alive in the military in combat.  Any combat veteran will tell you that you are most vulnerable when changing magazines or changing barrels on a machine gun.  Civilians have no need for these magazines unless it’s to kill as many human beings as possible.

Posted by John Harder on December 21, 2012 at 01:43 AM | #

JH, you just summed up the entire discourse quite nicely.

I hope our reps in both the state and our nation’s capital hear us.  Of course, ultimately, it’s up to us to make our voices heard since we put them there.

It’s about keeping all of safe, but mostly the kids, regardless of whether or not it sounds corny, they are our future.  They can’t be in fear of it.

Posted by Jean Marie Wiesen on December 21, 2012 at 02:23 AM | #

With all do respect, I’m not going to debate the necessity of magazine capacities greater than 10. However, semi-automatic hand guns hold that and more, which are easier and lighter to use then ‘assault rifles’. What will we do next time a mass murder is committed using one of them?
Further more, there are hundreds of thousands of these out there already, are we going to seize them?
Not that I’m concerned they will, my point is we are not addressing a meaningful way to prevent this from ever happening again.
It’s no secret Obama and most dems want to ban guns, they have said that numerous times prior to this horrific tragedy and I believe they are exploiting the situation to accomplish that. When in reality they have not done anything that will prevent this from happening again if indeed they do ban high capacity magazines. What prevents the next psycho from just using a semi-automatic hand gun?
At this point we don’t know if a high capacity magazine was even used. He may have used multiple 10 round magazines or a semi-automatic hand gun too.
Which brings me back to my original point: What are we doing or can do that will offer immediate safety to our children and teachers?
Banning high capacity magazines and so-called assault rifles won’t make the madness stop since there are literally hundreds of thousands of them out there. If you did hypothetically confiscate them all, the crazies will then use semi-automatic hand guns which hold at least 10 rounds or more. Then what are you going to do, ban those next?
Anyone who thinks that will happen is naive. And anyone who thinks banning high capacity magazines and assault weapons will make these tragedies end is being foolish.
It will take defensive measures not passive ones. Some may disagree, but the facts are on my side.
I welcome ideas, critiques and robust debate to find solutions so we may never have to experience such an unspeakable act against our children again.
It will take more than a ban or additional funds toward mental health care to prevent these tragedies. At best, those are long term solutions that will likely never come.
We need action and solutions that offer immediate results today.
I know we are outraged and disgusted over this and we all want fixes to prevent it from ever happening again, so lets do something that yields real results today.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 02:41 AM | #

Jean Marie, In all sincerity, how will banning high capacity magazines help today when their are hundreds of thousands of them out there already? For the sake of argument, say they were banned and confiscated, as if they never existed, well now the madmen will use semi-automatic hand guns that hold at least 10 rounds, which are lighter, easier to use and conceal.
Then what?
My whole point is, lets do someting that will actually offer safety to our children. While your intentions are good and we are on the same side with the same objective, I’m afraid you really haven’t done much to eliminate the problem.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 02:51 AM | #

When does any of us gun control “commenters” recall a Westport Now article generating all this interest and discourse…albeit from
only a few different sources.

Ain’t America great!

Posted by Daniel Katz on December 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM | #

Additional Gun Safety Amendments
Create a multi tiered license. ie). Civilians to transport, civilian to conceal carry, professional to conceal carry, Professional related to ballistics power and calibre.
Shorten the interval of valud permits from five years to two years.
Increase costs for various permit levels.
Increase renewal cost.

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 21, 2012 at 07:10 PM | #

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