Murphy, Himes Lead Roundtable on Gun Control

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


Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes joined local and state politicians, law enforcement officials and mental health advocates Thursday afternoon 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.

Craig Zac January 21, 2013 at 07:05 PM
I get what you are saying Will, I just cant stand how alot of the Anti gun ppl are throwing in words like "Newtown CT, Sandy Hook, 20 first graders" when ever they want to talk gun control... isnt it about time they stop trying to use this tragic inncedent as a vehicle to tug at peoples heart strings or pull at there emotions just so they can get their way with the issue? its all just political mind games, not unlike any other propaganda stratagies used at any other times during the history of the world.
Will Wilkin January 21, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Hi C Zac, Actually I was on the gun rights side of the issue until the Sandy Hook shooting. That freaked me out. I never put any energy into the issue before that, and in the days after I started reading and thinking a lot, and came to the conclusions I have because that incident made me ask "what is going on?" I knew mass shootings had become frequent beforehand, but they seemed to be in the west and south, and like any terrible thing we read in the news everyday, a bit abstract and removed. But I know a schoolgirl who went to Sandy Hook, and it made me finally look at the issue seriously. No previous agenda, in fact I was on the gun rights side until then. Now I really don't see the sense in it. What you call propaganda tactic is to me a much-needed look at the real consequences of guns pervading society. Today I read the wikipedia articles on the DC v. Heller and the McDonald v. Chicago cases, and see them as a blow to my reading of the Second Amendment as defending the rights of the states to have militias rather than as individual right for self-defense. That doesn't mean I am persuaded by those rulings, but must recognize they are the SC's stand at this time. I find it interesting it took until 2008 for the Court to rule on whether the 2nd Amendment is an individual or collective (state) right, and hope someday those rulings will be overturned for what I consider to be a much saner view of the place of guns in our society.
CTWilly January 23, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I'm unclear on what evidence or data Mr Himes is basing his position that reducing the size of magazines would somehow reduce the chances of a mass murder. I'm not aware of any such evidence and I really want to know how the magic number is arrived at, is it 10, 7 or what? I think the NY lawmakers used 7 to make most magazines illegal other than that it's just an arbitrary number. So where is his fact based - data driven argument?
JYD January 24, 2013 at 01:56 PM
There is no evidence or data yet. The investigation is still ongoing and nothing has been released to the public. "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." That's a scare tactic. I would expect that sort of assessment to come from the CT state police. But since it can only takes seconds to swap a magazine, it may not even be a conclusion that can be drawn. "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." Quite possible, but again, I don't recall any formal conclusion about Lanza's mental health. The media has done a "great" job building the case and the speculation. But this is also the same media that misidentified the shooter (and number of shooters) to begin with. Political grandstanding before the facts have even been concluded and communicated.
Craig Zac January 24, 2013 at 02:33 PM
"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." Does Murph ACTUALY believe that if Lanza had to reload halfway through his rampage these kids would have jumped him and held him for the police or taken his weapons away and used them on him? Really? He could have done just as much damage in the 20 minutes even if he had a 5 shot bolt action 30-30 rifle. Scare, scare, scare... terror tactics to get their way. just like in the olden days of 9/11 with the color chart...lol "todays terror alert is orange... be prepared to hide in the nearest shelter and pry for your life!" Fear is a great method of control, ask the taliban, they know all too well how true this is.


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