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Friday, December 21, 2012

Connecticut’s Complex Relationship With Guns

By Mark Pazniokas


One was a Korean War veteran suffering flashbacks. Another was an old man who kicked his neighbors’ trash cans into the street and ranted at passing traffic. Some had spoken of violence against themselves or others in the face of foreclosure, divorce or illness.

WestportNow.com Image
From the Bushmaster catalog: Firearms not covered by Connecticut’s assault weapon ban. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

All had one thing in common. Their firearms were among 2,093 seized by police under a law passed swiftly in reaction to a mass shooting: the killings of four senior executives at Connecticut Lottery in 1998 by a disgruntled employee.

Now, as the state mourns 20 first-graders and six educators killed in last week’s assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, legislators are once again reviewing Connecticut’s long and complicated relationship with guns and gun control.

Was there a law that could have kept a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle fitted with a 30-round magazine from the hands of Adam Lanza, 20, the Newtown killer? And would it have made a difference, since he also carried two semi-automatic handguns?

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Posted 12/21/12 at 03:35 AM


Comment Policy

I don’t disagree and earlier today I called for the same type of education and regs. for rifles as hand guns. But as pointed out, by the reporter and me, the same could as easily been done with semi-automatic hand guns, which the shooter possessed at the time.
My point is even if ‘assault weapons’ and high capacity magazines were banned today, there would still be hundreds of thousands of them out there along with semi-automatic hand guns (millions of those) as there were the day this horrific tragedy happened.
My question again to everyone concerned is, ‘what can we do right now that protects our children and teachers?
If fortifying our schools and arming teachers who opt to be, then so be it. If not, then a discreet armed guard on the premises during school hours should protect our most vulnerable.
Bans sound nice and the politicians love them, but in reality they do nothing at this moment to change anything from the day the these innocent children were murdered.
Everything we do should answer the question, ‘Does this help to protect our children today?’

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 05:09 AM | #

OK we get it Mr. Raho.  We’ll just let the slaughter of innocents continue in perpetuity because you don’t see what good gun control would do.  Blah blah blah…

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM | #

Hey Andy don’t be an insensitive jerk because obviously you don’t get it.
So answer this question for me - “If we had a complete ban of assault weapons and high capacity magazines today, how would anyone be any safer since not one gun or high capacity magazine is less than the day this happened?”

I can see the point there would be less in the future going forward, however that does not change one single thing to make the world safer for school children than on the day of this tragedy.

If I’m wrong then tell me what your definition of ‘gun control’ would be?

And please show some respect.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 01:15 PM | #


Close your eyes and click your heels…is the issue fixed? 

Isn’t that easy is it.

Each year 10,000 people die in traffic accidents related to drunk driving.

So isn’t the answer easy?  Get rid of cars!

Nevertheless, let us put on our thinking caps and leave emotion out of our reactions.

Is the issue cars, alcohol, morality, poor judgment, bad decisions, ignorance, mental disease or alcoholism, bartenders serving too much, physical or emotional abuse at home, stress from the job?

Would the correct response be to look at all these and probably a dozen more and perhaps treat all in a sensible and realistic manner?

Get rid of firearms; educate people about guns; and make spot checks at home mandatory…really?  Besides these reactionary answers being stupid, they will never happen because there is no sense of reasonableness to any of them. 

New laws regulations or restrictions will never pass unless they can pass at a decent level of approval by all parties, not just the anti-gun crowd.

...and if you wish to have an adult debate, then have some decorum otherwise keep your insults to yourself.  Converstions and points of views like yours will never properly address these issues.

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 21, 2012 at 02:34 PM | #

Mr. Spoon I addressed him as Mr. Raho and he then called me an insensitive jerk and told me to show him respect. You, meanwhile, call sensible ideas “reactionary answers” that are “stupid.”  Who’s the adult here?  Go back to your caves with your guns and ammo and have a nice day!

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 03:18 PM | #

Andy I said, ‘DON’T be…’, I didn’t call you one AFTER you were dismissive and condescending to me.
However, you still HAVE NOT answered my question. Ignoring the obvious doesn’t nothing to protect our schools from it happening again.

I would very much like a thoughtful response from you or anyone who shares your sentiment that banning future weapons changes anything that happened last Friday.

I await your reply sir.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 03:45 PM | #

To answer your question without belaboring—a buy-back program.  They’ve been successful in many places,  Australia in particular, but also in many cities around the country.  Of course it has to be a serious program.  So does a new assault weapons ban, not one riddled with loopholes like the last one.

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM | #

Andy, thank you for you reply. So what you advocate is a ‘buy-back’ progam. With all due respect I hardly think that will work. Why?
For one these weapons cost thousands of dollars and once the gun buying public knows they can no longer own such a weapon, the price will go up; simple supply and demand. I doubt the government will pay people for the actual market value of such guns.
The 2nd reason I seriously doubt it is a viable option, because since last week these weapons have been flying off the shelf. Magazine manufacure Brownell sold a 3.5 years worth of high capacity magazines in 72 hours. So do you really think people will just volunteer to sell their weapons to the government.
If you do I have something else to sell you.
Bottom line, you have nothing but a fantasy to prevent this from happening again. Nothing of any real substance to ever stop it again.
And like I have said, endlessly, an assult weapon ban does nothing for the weapons already out there and changes nothing from last Friday. You are counting guns that don’t/won’t exist as a net gain.
Do you see what I’m saying?
While you may feel good that you have done something positive, you really have done and the exact same situation exist today that did last Friday.
I want people to put forward ideas and actions that makes a difference and protects our children today, not entertain a fantasy for tomorrow.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 04:28 PM | #

I should really proof read before hitting submit when typing on an iPhone.
But I think the essence of what I’m saying is there.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM | #

I agree with you John about the hardware already out there.  It’s not going to go away.  I have friends who since this happened have gone out and bought more high capacity magazines.  My issue is that I just don’t see any rational need for them.  The only time they seem to be necessary is in combat or for these deranged people.

Posted by John Harder on December 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM | #


They are out there because they are “not” illegal. 

There is no need for a vehicle to go faster than the speed limit but manufacturers make them and people buy them. 

An almost instant fix to the issue at hand and one that will all but guarantee 100% safety is to fortify schools, including armed protection.  There is not a single reason why this cannot be and should not be done today.

With that, this is my last post on the topic of gun control changes. 

Best to all for a Happy Holiday with your family and friends.  God Bless!

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 21, 2012 at 05:50 PM | #

Thank you Rick, and if you’ve read what I’ve written in a few post here I have said the same thing.
Other states are allowing armed teachers, are they dumb and we’re smart? I don’t think so.

My goal is to make sure our children and teachers are safe with real fixes that will prevent this from ever happening again.
We owe it the little ones who’s lives were taken away so violently.

Instead I’m only hearing theories that may or may not work and in fact history has proven them not to be effective.

In addition, even if there was a complete ban on ‘assult weapons’, any psycho can just as easily use semi-automatic hand guns which do as much damage, hold more than 10 rounds and still requires the same amount of time to pull the trigger for each shot.

I’m going to say it again, because I have not heard one single suggestion that makes our kids any safer then they were last Friday. And that’s a shame!

Counting guns that have not been produced does nothing to reduce the threat and in fact, the same situation exist today as did last Friday.

For the sake of argument, say there were 5 million ‘assult weapons’ out there on December 14 and 10 million high capacity magazines (I have no idea how many, it could be 10X this amount).
And on December 15, Obama halted the production and sale of both.
Now on Monday December 17, what has changed that will protect our children from the same conditions that existed three days prior?
Other than beefed up security measures and awarness by schools and police departments, it’s the same.
In reality you have not done anything that helps protect our children.

Worse part is, they think they did, they feel good thinking they accomplished something meaningful, yet I ask, ‘what has changed (if we did have a complete ban of AWs) from last week?’

Thank you Rick, but I’m having a hard time finding any joy this holiday season. I appreciate your support and wishes. All the best my friend.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 06:17 PM | #

This is one of the suggestions I and others have recently proposed.This is a real solution that gives value today.
I think it should be seriously considered. Granted it may not be for all districts or even all schools in a district, but it’s a start and should be given consideration.


Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 07:04 PM | #

I don’t think arming teachers is a great idea.  My wife is a teacher in Norwalk.  I’m also not saying that I’m 100% against it.  I think if it comes to needing to do that we need to put armed security in the schools.

I also don’t think that making schools “gun free zones” has any impact on criminals or insane people.  About 10 years ago I was the advisor for the Key Club at Staples.  One morning I had gone duck hunting off Longshore and then went straight to my office in downtown Westport.  I left my gun, decoys and stuff in my trunk.  That afternoon as I was driving to Staples I remembered that my gun was still in my trunk.  Being a law abiding citizen I realized I had to go home to drop off my gun before I went over to Staples since you can’t have a firearm on school grounds.  Do you think a demented person or a criminal would ever do that or care that the school was a “gun free zone”.

Posted by John Harder on December 21, 2012 at 07:11 PM | #

Today’s NRA statement about “arming all the adults in the schools” reminds me of the old adage…. “when you are a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail”.  Brilliant idea… more guns, just what need. This is just so absurd I can’t even go into detail regarding the multiple reasons why this is a ridiculous idea.

Also, I am very tired of hearing about our “second amendment rights”.  Does anyone think our founding fathers could have envisioned the future invention of such horrible automatic killing machines?  One hundred years after the Revolutionary War, during the Civil War, they were still using single shot musket guns. These weapons belong only in the hands of our enlisted and trained soldiers. 

In my mind, the “vision” the founding fathers had for the second amendment involved being permitted to own a musket, for killing your own food, since they didn’t have a Whole Foods to shop in.  I hunted many times when I was younger, mostly for small game using a single shot .410 in my youth and double barrel 12 gauge shotgun as I grew older. You do not need an automatic weapon to hunt deer or bear. 

If it is not the “hunting rights issue” that allegedly justifies gun ownership, it’s my other favorite line;  “I need this gun for protection”.  I could accept that reason for people living in extremely rural locations where homes are 5 miles away from each other and a police response requires a thirty drive.  (although that’s counterintuitive since if there are no people around who do you need protection from?)  However, in this area, if I dial 911, the police are at my home in three minutes.  That’s good enough for me. 

There are just too many people with too many guns.  Let’s look at the rest of the world and realize;  we are the only nation on the planet that has this problem…  and it is a problem that is fixable.

Posted by Joseph Vallone on December 21, 2012 at 10:13 PM | #

Gun Safety Amendments

Require class time, range time, testing, registration and licensing for all types of guns.  Increase the costs.

Require urinalysis. Applicant pays the cost.  This will eliminate addicts without felony records and flag those taking psychotropic medications for mental illness but have not received inpatient care.

Require character references for permits to own all weapons.  This will be difficult for loners.

Require background checks for all persons residing where guns and ammunition are stored. Applicant pays cost for background checks.

Create a multi tiered permit system and require advanced testing to graduate from entry level permit to experienced level.  Increase cost.

Reduce the validity of a permit from five yeats to two years.  Increase the cost of renewal.

Applicant agrees go spot checks by Police, National Guard or NRA representative to verify guns are locked, unloaded and stored safely and seperately from ammunition.  Failure to comply results in immediste confiscation of all weapons.  Applicant pays the cost for spot check.

Develop penalties ranging from misdemeanor, felony and, automatic jail time depending on the offense.

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 21, 2012 at 10:17 PM | #

1. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.
2. I’m glad you feel a 3 minute response time is fine for you and you’ve decided it is good enough for everyone else, thank you, however I’ll make my own decision on how to protect my family.

By the way I can’t help but notice you offer no solution to the problem other than the same ones that HAVE NOT worked.
Perhaps sir it is time to reconsider alternative methods or at least offer up ones that could be implemented today that would be effective.

Posted by John Raho on December 21, 2012 at 10:41 PM | #


Thanks for your response.

1)  For those of you who believe gun ownership is about protecting yourselves from “the government”... how’s that been working out for you?

2)  If you are living in a neighborhood where you feel police protection is inadequate, I feel sorry for you, you are living in the wrong neighborhood.  I feel as though I live within a community.  I feel our community looks out for each other.  I feel as though a community is really like a team and I love team sports.  I don’t mind feeling dependent upon police and fire fighters to protect me. I don’t feel less of a man because of that.  We all have our roles in life and I play my role.  I choose not to feel like an isolationist.  And yes, sometimes bad things happen but if you examine it in perspective, relative to the size of the population, the statistics are overwhelmingly in our favor.  You are right, you’ll make your own decision about how best to protect your family.  But it is my family who needs protection from people with guns.

3) I thought I did offer a solution;  if you wish to hunt, a shotgun or a rifle with a three round maximum clip should be sporting enough.  If you are not a competent shot, incapable of dropping a black bear charging you on a dead run, good for the bear, now it’s a real sport.  All other weapons, including hand guns, should be only in the possession of the police and the military.  As I said, I hunted for many years.  I was trained to handle firearms but I am older now and choose not too.

4)  I also thought I offered a second solution, often unthinkable to most Americans;  how about we look around the globe and examine how other, prominent, westernized, capitalistic nations approach gun laws? Maybe we can learn something. 

5)  The real problem, with this problem, is the money being made by the weapons manufacturers and their perpetuation of this second amendment issue, again preying on human fear.  This is BIG BUSINESS and they, the gun manufacturers, like most other big businesses, are not going to walk away from this huge pot of money.

Posted by Joseph Vallone on December 21, 2012 at 11:24 PM | #

The NRA “press conference” this morning was complete insanity. First no questions from the press at the press conference. WTF? The reporters should have just walked out at that point. Then the angry, victimized LaPierre blames Hollywood, video game makers, pornography, fluoride (ok I made that one up) and, of course the media, which often fails to differentiate between an automatic and a semi-automatic weapon (timing chain or timing belt? Norway or Sweden?). Insane!

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM | #

Mr. Vallone, I support your comments 100%.  We need others to speak out. President Obama said as much this morning during the week-after Newtown memorials.

“We hear you,” Obama says in the 2-minute, 49-second video posted on the White House’s YouTube channel. “You’ve started something, and now I’m asking you to keep at it. I’m asking for your help … to make sure the United States of America is a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow.”

I would other WestportNow readers to make their voices heard as well.

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM | #

The US military buys assault weapons from every gun maker in the business.  Every generation serving in the military for the last fifty years has trained with modern tacticle assault weapons.  There is a huge market for a civilian assault weapons in part because so many ex-military folks want them in civilian life.  We are a nation intrigued by high technology and why wouldn’t a gun enthusiast want to own the latest iteration of high tech weapon?  This is how the market for such a weapon is created and sustained.  If one accepts the notion that these weapons will always be available in the market than the big question is what are you going to do to create laws that limit the presence of such weapons in society.  I would suggest this is where we need to focus and you need to act fast.  What suggestions can you think of to amend gun laws to limit the sale and use of high tech tacticle weapons and accessories with the notion that gun makers are continuing to build them?

Posted by Mark A. Demmerle on December 22, 2012 at 12:49 AM | #

I am unfamiliar with what town the Petit family lived in…is it nice? 

Haven’t there even been some recent home invasions (last year or two) in Westport?  One I think was even stopped at gun point by a home owner.

Just saying.

Posted by Rick Spoon on December 22, 2012 at 02:23 AM | #

Considering that there are over 250 million guns kept in 69% of American homes, the number of murders and total “gun related incidents” is so small, as a percentage,that we should be in awe of “American self control.”

Indeed, a Newtown shooting is a world shaking shaking event that brings from each of us the desire to “control” the situation and “do” something.  But, alas, there is nothing that can stop the errant person from committing acts against society.

So, just as we should be thankful that the tens of millions of cars on the road produces so few road rage incidents, we should be thankful that the tens upon tens of million guns in private hands get used so infrequently against the society that allows them.

Let us not “lock down” schools and turn them into the uselessly restricted areas that highjacking has pushed us to make of our airport.

Posted by Daniel Katz on December 22, 2012 at 11:58 AM | #

“There is nothing that can stop the errant person?”  If Adam Lanza hadn’t had the easy access to assault weapons and ammunition he might have been stopped short.

Posted by Andy Yemma on December 22, 2012 at 01:22 PM | #

Though I understand the your reasoning, I think either of the pistols he carried could have inflicted similar damage had he not had the “assault” rifle.

Posted by Daniel Katz on December 22, 2012 at 02:12 PM | #

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