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Gun Control Talk at Local Library Draws a Crowd

Congressman Jim Himes said in order to make progress on gun control on the federal level "it is going to require years of sustained, thoughtful, constructive argument to get the debate more rational and less emotional."

 
Enacting meaningful gun control legislation at the federal level will require a "sustained" effort and a "better conversation" between the pro- and anti-gun lobbyists in Washington, Congressman Jim Himes (D-4th) said during a forum entitled "Guns In America and Their Impact on Our Community" held Saturday at the Darien Library.

"I am a supporter of legislation that will cap the number of rounds in a magazine; that would reinstate an assault weapon ban; and instate a universal background check," Himes told the approximately 100 people who attended the event.

The forum, the first in the Darien Democratic Town Committee's 2013 Speaker Series, "POLICYmatters: Conversations That Strengthen Our Community," also featured Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Ron Pinciaro of Connecticut Against Gun Violence and Darien Police Chief Duane Lovello as panelists.

"My best guess today is that on the federal level we might get a universal background check law passed [in this year's legislative session]," Himes said, adding that such a law would close the loopholes that allow people to buy guns at gun shows without having to go through full background checks. With the proposed legislation, "any gun sale, the buyer is checked out for history of crimes or violence or psychiatric issues," he said.

Himes said there is also a good chance that Congress will pass an interstate gun trafficking law.

However Congress will "stop short of an assault weapon ban and something I care deeply about, which is limiting the number of rounds in a magazine," said Himes, who is sponsoring a bill banning the sale of gun magazines holding more than ten rounds.

Himes said while New York and Connecticut are poised to pass stricter gun control measures, "that's not sufficient because gun crime does not observe state boundaries — so action at the federal level is very important."

But Washington is so "polarized" on the issue, he said, with the "pro gun extreme... engaging in fear mongering" by suggesting that things like regulating the number of rounds in a magazine are a threat to the Second Amendment.

"We need to demand a better discussion than we're having today about gun safety measures," Himes said. "I'm willing to have a debate about what's the right number of rounds to allow in a magazine... but I'm not willing to get into an argument about whether such regulations are a fundamental assault on the constitution and your Second Amendment rights."

"There is no right in this country that is absolute — you do not have absolute rights anywhere, especially when it comes to things that are very dangerous," he said. "For example you have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but it is not OK to yell fire in a crowded theater. By the same token efforts to regulate a very dangerous technology are not efforts to obliterate a constitutional right."

Himes said in order to make progress on the federal level "it is going to require years of sustained, thoughtful, constructive argument to get the debate more rational and less emotional."

"In Congress things never move rapidly," he said. "If a year from now there is not an ability to get this number of people into a room, the ability to make real progress on this issue will fade."

"Unfortunately that has been the pattern — after Columbine, after Aurora, after West Virginia, and hopefully not after the tragedy at Sandy Hook," he said. "The pattern has been, we get really incensed, really concerned, and then we drift away from that."

Himes pointed out that while the argument for or against stricter gun control seems to fall along extremes, the issue is anything but black and white:

"I happen to enjoy shooting. I guess that makes me pro-gun," he said, referring to hunting. "I happen to support good regulations of guns. I guess that makes me anti-gun."

State Poised to Enact Stricter Gun Control

Pinciaro said in the wake of the Sandy Hook School tragedy, Connecticut is much more likely to adopt stricter gun control legislation "this time around."

"This time I feel quite confident that we do have the votes... we do have pretty strong legislation," he said, adding that while the special state task force studying the issue is yet to reach concensus, Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposal covers most of what has been discussed.

"I believe the tipping point has been reached — and I think the country is watching to see what will happen in Connecticut," Pinciaro said. "Because those other states — Colorado, Arizona and West Virginia  — have not really been able to react to these mass shootings... "

He noted, however, that the National Rifle Association "has always been very powerful" in Connecticut and has succeeded in squashing proposals in the past — sometimes at the final hour.

"They're very well organized — they react immediately to everything that's going on, they can produce a number of people, and they're very passionate," he said. "In the past I think the problem has always been that there was more passion on their side than there was on ours. That's the big change now — I think there is more passion now on our side. They did a rally up in Hartford — they had 1,000 people — and at our March For Change we had 5,500."

"My mantra on this — and to quote President [John] Kennedy — has been that we're not looking for a moral victory on a legislative matter, we're looking for a legislative victory on a moral matter," Pinciaro said.

Jepsen, who helped draft Connecticut's assault weapons ban that was passed in 1993 while he was serving in the state Senate, said it was "maybe the most challenging piece of legislation that I worked on in my 16 years in the legislature." He said the measure passed by one vote in each of the five legislative committees and by one vote in the House. What's more a tie vote in the Senate was broken by the Lt. Governor.

Jepsen said as soon as the state identified which weapons to ban, the gun manufacturers responded by making slight adjustments to their products so that they no longer fit the state's definitions.

"The devil is in the details," he said. "It's really hard to find an appropriate definition of what an assault weapon is.

In 2001 the state modified the law by listing specific gun features which, when present in certain combinations, dictate whether a weapon is classified as an "assault rifle." He said unfortunately the Bushmaster .223 rifle such as the one Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook School massacre, "was left out of the law."

"It's a leaky ban and should be tightened up," Jepsen said, however he pointed out that a total ban most likely would never have passed, as evidenced by the close House and Senate votes.

Jepsen said he supports a total ban on assault weapons, "not just new sales," and pointed out that there are 8,000 assault weapons registered in the state.

"We need stronger gun laws," he said. "It should be illegal to own an assault weapon — and it should be illegal to have magazines that contain 30 bullets — but we have to deal with the fact that the Second Amendment is an individual right, for the time being."

Like Himes, Jepsen said it is going to take time to bring about the cultural change that is needed to bring about stricter gun laws.

"It needs to be a Mothers Against Drunk Driving approach," he said, adding that 30 years ago no one ever thought gay marriage would be legal or that cigarette smoking would be banned in public places. "I think we're in for a generational fight... to change the cultural acceptance of gun violence."

Mark W February 25, 2013 at 08:12 PM
In CT Vice President Biden proclaimed…"We have to speak for those children who died 69 days ago”&"There's a moral price to be paid for inaction”&"There will be lots of voices in this debate, but let me be certain — the president is absolutely determined that the loudest voices will be for the people who lost their voice." We must change because 26 people were murdered by a man suffering with a mental illness. So what’s the 1st thing proposed? Ban gun, ammo, register guns and owners, reduce ammo capacity & limit ammo sales. Not 1 of these proposals will prevent an individual from murdering. So the next time a tragedy like Sandy Hook happens what do we do then? So what can we do that we all could be proud of? What will give children a voice? Every day in our country more than 3000 lives are destroyed because the Supreme Court legalized abortion. The Court deemed abortion is a right under the US Constitution. The same politicians who are so outraged with the murder of 20 children at Sandy Hook proudly support the Supreme Court decision.What if we abolish this fundamental right and 6 years after abolishment we post the pictures of all 3000 children whose lives were saved that day. Lives that otherwise would not have had a voice. We could broadcast across the airwaves the pictures of these children. The activities they are involved in… brownie troops, singers, baseball players. That would be an accomplishment we could all be proud of.
Palin Smith February 25, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Senator Chris Murphy tells Blumy to take a hike. He's siding with common sense! http://youtu.be/m-wPBYGwRuU
Robert Pitchard February 25, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Any LEO that does not keep their oath and supports unconstitutional laws should be removed from duty immediately! To support unconstitutional laws and attack innocent gun owners rights is like charging us with a crime we did not commit. Their is NO justice in this. Any continued efforts against our rights are intolerable!
monique thomas February 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM
'Like Himes, Jepsen said it is going to take time to bring about the cultural change that is needed to bring about stricter gun laws.' Can you say social Marxism? Does it matter? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cHG-YaIVouU#!
Deal Breaker February 26, 2013 at 12:27 AM
  The Bible records the first murder, when Cain kills his brother.  Whether it was a rock, a stick, or a sharp object.  The evil in Cain's heart or mind was the cause of the murder, not the availability of a weapon.  God did not ban or restrict whatever instrument was used to murder his brother, instead he banished Cain for his actions.  The evil in Cain heart or mind is what "We" as a nation have to address; Currently there is an abundance of laws for firearms in America that are failing to be enforced.  The solutions being drafted up and broadcasted are aimed at taking away our Second Amendment rights due to the lack of enforcement of the current laws; we have veered off the real problem, mental health in America. If Johnson, Golden, Barton, Cho, Hasan, Loughner, and Lanza were diagnosed early on, I firmly believe they would not have had the opportunity to complete their actions.   The audacity to state that only danger can result from law abiding citizens owning modern firearms is used to justify the government's monopoly of force. What about District of Columbia vs Heller.  The Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from the time it was inked through the late 20th century also supports the Court’s conclusion.  
Jack February 26, 2013 at 01:59 AM
" That's the big change now — I think there is more passion now on our side. They did a rally up in Hartford — they had 1,000 people — and at our March For Change we had 5,500." Repeat a lie often enough........... There were closer to 2000 at the pro-gun rally and considerably under 1500 at the "March for Change" get together (hardly resembled a rally)
Sean M February 26, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Jim Himes---"I am a supporter of legislation that will cap the number of rounds in a magazine; that would reinstate an assault weapon ban; and instate a universal background check," 1. Capping the number of rounds in a firearm, widely interested to be 10, shows complete ignorance on a number of issues. This would effectively ban a huge number of firearms. This would make law abiding citizens less safe. People defending themselves are on a good day going to hit about 33% of their shots. This means you have 3 bullets to stop a threat. Not going to happen, especially if there are multiple people. In addition, the same people who want bans on # of rounds, want the police to show up and stop threats. Forgetting by the time they get there, they are just investigating the crime, not stopping it. What will the police use? The same weapons the anti-gun people want banned from civilian hands. The irony here is the civilians are first facing the threat and their lives are clearly less valuable than those of the police and even the perps. 2. On "assault weapons", this is a term made up in the 1990s. It has no meaning to the real world of firearms. One of the criteria is that it has a pistol grip. This makes it easier to control the firearm. Banning that makes it harder to aim. See the above on magazine bans.
Sean M February 26, 2013 at 04:25 PM
3. On background checks, criminals will not obey them. Can Jim Himes produce examples where criminals used weapons that would now be required to get background checks? I await a response. AR-15's shoot as fast as a revolver. They hold more rounds because they are used to stop threats from a further distance. The range of a pistol or revolver is in the few feet. They are not going to cut it for a number of threats that exist in the real world. The anti-gun hysteria is just that: hysteria. The people demanding action do not understand how firearms work or their basic purpose. People should be bothered and significantly by the events of Newtown and other mass shootings. The reality is we as responsible adults not only need the facts before acting, but we must do so rationally. There is no final report on how the Newtown shooter obtained the weapons. It was illegal for him to possess them. It was illegal to transport them loaded, bring them on school grounds, and murder people with them. The law did not stop him. The notion that making an area a gun free zone is just plain silly. Criminals will ignore it and target areas where they know the good guys are not armed to protect themselves. There are evil people in this world who want to do harm. We must accept it and prepare to face it. Waiting for the police to show up will get most people killed.
Andy Dunaj Jr February 26, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Really?!? Our CT Attorney General said this - "we have to deal with the fact that the Second Amendment is an individual right, for the time being" - unbelievable!!! Have these moron politicians forgotten their Oaths of Office and the Bill of Rights?!? I'm a municipal police sergeant in CT with a daughter in 1st grade, grew up near and still live in the area of Newtown, and I know people who live there and first responders who were on scene that dreadful day. No doubt it was a tragedy that touched us all deep in the heart. However, having been an armed professional for nearly 25 years, with vast experience in the darkness man is capable of (15+ yrs as a police officer and almost 10 yrs Army Special Forces and Military Intelligence), I don't blame an inanimate object when violence is perpetrated by evil men or those with serious mental issues. I see the problem for what it is....we live in a culture that embraces violence and lacks of personal responsibility, where metal illness is rampant with no adequate care available, and where people have an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a tremendous lack of accountability. Guns are not the problem and legal gun owners do not commit these types of crimes! It's the cheaper and more politically-expedient fix, a bandaid on the problem, and will do absolutely nothing to prevent another tragedy like this from occurring!
Andy Dunaj Jr February 26, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Additionally, for those who attended both rallies (both pro- and anti-gun) or compared video footage of both, It is crystal clear that the number of 5,500 was highly inflated for political gain. The ant-gun rally barely had 700- 800 people on a clear but cold weekend day, whereas the pro-2A rally numbered from 1,700-1,800 during inclement weather (snowstorm) on a weekday. Also, during the public hearings by the Gun Violence Task Force, pro-2A testimony clearly outnumbered anti-gun testimony nearly 10 to 1.
dc February 26, 2013 at 09:06 PM
"but we have to deal with the fact that the Second Amendment is an individual right, for the time being." this man should lose his job IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Mike Butler February 27, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Germany 1938, part deux, and we all know how THAT worked out!
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:39 PM
"There is no right in this country that is absolute — you do not have absolute rights anywhere, especially when it comes to things that are very dangerous," he said. "For example you have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but it is not OK to yell fire in a crowded theater. By the same token efforts to regulate a very dangerous technology are not efforts to obliterate a constitutional right." Utter malarky. Using the same logic, you have a 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms, but you cant go into a crowded theater and shoot it up either. Thats a similar analogy. What you gun grabbers want is not the same. A better analogy of what is going on here would be, how would you feel if you needed to get a background check and get fingerprinted before you were able to even APPLY for a protest permit?? How would you feel if you had to PAY for that permit, and then, you were only limited to 10 protesters at your protest or rally, because after all, why does anyone need more than 10 protesters to get the same message across?
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:47 PM
"That's the big change now — I think there is more passion now on our side. They did a rally up in Hartford — they had 1,000 people — and at our March For Change we had 5,500." There are no sides, this is America. Stop dividing us. This is an issue of Constitutional Rights. The majority cannot overrule individual rights. We are a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. What you are proposing is tyranny. By your logic, gay marriage shouldnt be legalized because the majority of Americans are against it. If we have the majority vote that Democrats should be banned from ever running for office, you would be ok with that? Thats not how our country works, and its embarassing hearing this from elected officials in Connecticut. "Jepsen said as soon as the state identified which weapons to ban, the gun manufacturers responded by making slight adjustments to their products so that they no longer fit the state's definitions. "The devil is in the details," he said. "It's really hard to find an appropriate definition of what an assault weapon is." Right, so the State wants to keep redefining what an assault weapon is until THEY are happy, and get to ban whatever THEY think is an assault weapon, even though they coined the term, made it up on the spot back in the 90's. AR's are not assault weapons, they are rifles, just like an M1 Garand, just like a shotgun, just like a 308 hunting rifle. Stop making stuff up to suit your agenda and gun grabber ideology.
Mark W March 05, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Chris Murphy is a lib... that by definition means he has no common sense.
Mark W March 05, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Don't forget ... One protest per month.
Redstate guru March 11, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Unlike most DEMagagues,at least he is being honest.He and other liberals have declared war on legal gun owners and the 2nd Amendment.The goal is to 1.Ban what they can..2.Regulate all guns.Who has what,where,how many.3.Educate(Indcoctrinate)Guns are bad,guns are evil,guns kill..And when they have swayed enough people 4.Confiscate guns.All guns.pistols,rifles,shotguns.Grandpas bolt action hunting rifle,your six shot revolver..muzzle loaders.all guns.Period.Guns have no place in their vision of a liberal utopia
kevin mccaffrey March 17, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Are your rights to free speech enfringed when a civilized society says you can't yell fire in a crowded theater or you can't distribute child porn on the street corner? Those laws are in place to protect society. You have a constitutional right to bear arms, and those rights like free speech will be restricted to protect society. The question should be how much is reasonable in a civilized society to protect ourselves? Is it common that we need a 10+ round magazine to protect our homes, or a semi-automatic weapon vs. a revolver or shot gun?
Sean M March 19, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Kevin, I am not sure where you are on this. I am assuming you support "gun control." Why would you or I need a 10 round magazine? Well, you and I can and do face the same threats that the police do. According to a recent Homeland Security purchase order, they need 20 to 30 rounds to protect themselves. Also, from testimony from a CAGV person, police hit about 1/3 of their shots. Assume we are the same shot percentage, a 10 round magazine is not sufficient to stop real threats. See a multi-person home invasion. See rioting in the streets. The "gun control" crowd does not understand how guns work. They do not know what an AR-15 is or what it does.

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