I’d argue yes, but the mayors of Connecticut’s biggest cities may believe otherwise. On Monday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont met with local officials, including Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, to talk about the rising violent crime rate in the state.
In New Haven, there were 20 homicides last year, but the city has already reached the same number of murders in the first six months of 2021. According to Elicker, however, more policing isn’t the answer.
Elicker said police have been working to respond to the uptick for months by expanding their shooting task force to collaborate with partnering towns and federal law enforcement. They also increased walking and bicycle beats and provided more support for those as they reenter society from prison.
“We are not going to solve these challenges through law enforcement,” Elicker noted. “We are going to solve it by confronting poverty head on. Investment in schools in education and reforming the criminal justice system.”
In Hartford, Mayor Luke Bronin said they are committing money from the American Rescue Plan to violence intervention strategies.
He said police have had a lot of success solving crimes and being proactive.
“They have taken well over 100 guns off the street this year, they have made arrests in homicides and nonfatal shootings at a rate this city has never seen before, and most cities around the country don’t see,” Bronin said. “And I really am grateful for that work.
Police may be clearing more homicides, but there appears to be a common theme among those arrested, including 21-year old Omar Reyes, who was recently tracked down in Puerto Rico and charged with the murder of 56-year old Sylvia Cordova, who was recently shot and killed in her home during a drive-by. Police are still looking for 24-year old Edwin Roman, who they also believe had a role in the shooting.
Police say during the drive-by shooting Reyes and Roman missed their target and shot up the house of 56-year-old Cordova, killing her while she was preparing dinner. Cordova‘s family is asking for the community’s help.
Taisuee Hernandez, Cordova’s daughter, said, “If he did this to our mom, out of desperation, he’s going to kill you. He’s going to kill you, he is going to kill anybody. He is desperate, so please turn him in.”
They are also asking lawmakers for tougher gun laws that carry more than just a slap on the wrist. The family says both were convicted felons.
Geovanny Hernandez, Cordova’s son, explained, “Those criminals get to bond out after having felonies. They are even caught with a gun and they get a $50,000 or $100,000 bond, they come right back out here and do the same thing – same with a guy there looking for now; he has previous gun convictions.”
Keep in mind that Connecticut lawmakers have repeatedly touted their work to impose new restrictions on legal gun owners, particularly since the Sandy Hook murders in December of 2012. In 2013, when then-Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a host of new gun control bills into law, including a ban on “high capacity” magazines and more than 100 models of so-called assault weapons along with universal background checks, he declared that the laws would make the state a far safer place.
Instead, the homicide rate has bounced up and down since then, but in 2020 Hartford, New Haven, and several other cities saw a huge increase in homicides and shootings. Hartford, for instance, had two more murders in 2020 compared to 2019, but the number of shootings in the city increased from 142 to 222.
New Haven and Waterbury also saw an increase in homicides year to year. The latest statistics are from November and showed that New Haven had 19, up from 9 the year before while Waterbury had 12 in 2020, up from 4 in 2019.
Homicides are up again this year, with Hartford showing a 53% increase compared to 2020. Mayor Luke Bronin says it’s because of an “unprecedented flow of firearms” into the city, but if that’s the case, then doesn’t that mean that Connecticut’s gun and magazine bans along with its universal background check laws aren’t working? And when New Haven’s mayor says that law enforcement “can’t solve” these challenges, isn’t that too an admission that putting more non-violent, possessory offenses on the books isn’t going to address the real issues?
I’d argue yes, but I’m sure Bronin and Elicker would come up with some argument about needing even more gun control laws, since the ones already on the books clearly aren’t enough.
Personally, I happen to agree with Geovanny Hernandez. The real issue, or at least one of them, is the way the criminal justice system treats repeat, violent offenders. That’s where the focus should be going forward, and frankly Democrats should be working to repeal their ineffective and unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms while they’re at it.
Sadly, that’s about as likely to happen as the NHL returning to Hartford. And as long as lawmakers keep trying to fight violent crime by waging a legal war on law-abiding gun owners, I suspect the growing homicide rates are going to become the new normal.