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 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.

Alethiologist January 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Babble on!
Concerned Parent & Gun Owner January 22, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Hartford Courant Chandra: Mr. Murphy is pushing on of the canards of the gun control argument, that limiting magazine capacity will some how mitigate the carnage of such rampage shootings. However, there is no empirical evidence that this is true even though it is repeated because it sounds logical to someone who is not a shooter. Idea is that the time during which an empty magazine has to be exchanged for a  full one offers many magic moments during which either hostages can escape, hostages can overtake the shooter or law enforcement can act. Logical, no?  But the problem is that a magazine change during a rampage shooting is never "expected" even by the gunman. The firearms fires the last round in the mag, the slide or bolt locks back and the shooter realizes he has to reload. An inexperienced shooter can reload a mag in several seconds and in a second or two with practice. This is an impossibly short window for any hostage or rescuer to act even if they knew ahead of time that the moment would come. Since the timing of a mag reload is not known, suggestions that someone could act are more fantasy than real.  Worse, this ignores the logic that during the shooting, the future victims are either in a state of shock or cowering behind any object that could provide a modicum of concealment or cover. Under duress and fearing for their lives, all but the most highly trained military veteran would be poised to either escape or attack.  (cont'd)
Concerned Parent & Gun Owner January 22, 2013 at 12:32 PM
(Continuing) [typo above, it should read "only the most highly trained military...."] Chandra, you wrote that "Mr. 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".  Great, but that is clearly unknowable and Murphy provides no elaboration as to why the simple act of more frequent reloading would have spared lives. Instead, Mr. Murphy is purely speculating based on a fiction propagated by gun control advocates.  Even worse for Murphy's assertion is that Adam Lanza DID reload more frequently than needed. Are reported below, police found that Lanza was reloading while only part way through a magazine, sometimes after only shooting 15 rounds. Thus, possibly based on his video game training, Lanza was self-imposing his own magazine limit and yet it made him mo less lethal in his homicidal mission.  Mag capacity limits do not work and infringe on the law-abiding far more than they infringe on the criminal and criminally insane.  http://articles.courant.com/2013-01-06/news/hc-sandyhook-lanza-earplugs-20130106_1_police-cars-lauren-rousseau-newtown Passing laws based on unproven and discredited "theories" is not smart, especially if they infringe the rights of others.


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