CT Dems push to declare public health crisis over "gun violence"

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont isn’t the first Democrat to demand lawmakers declare “gun violence” to be an emergency, and he won’t be the last, but what exactly does a proclamation like that actually do? In many cases, it’s mostly symbolic; a chance for politicians to tell supporters that they’re aware of the problem, even if they don’t have much of an answer to address an increase in violent crime.

Lamont’s proposal, on the other hand, isn’t just some vague proclamation. He and his Democratic allies in the legislature are hoping to use that self-proclaimed crisis to create a Council on Gun Violence Prevention; a move that met with fierce resistance from Second Amendment activists and Republican lawmakers during a committee hearing on Monday.

“Will this get to the root of gun violence and why is it a public health crisis?” State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus, R-Prospect, asked Dr. Manisha Juthani, state commissioner of public health. “We know there is gun violence, especially in the cities.”

Juthani said that another provision would create an advisory council to outline problems and possible solutions within various communities. Zupkus, in her fifth two-year term, said that with a similar council already in existence, and asked why another should be formed.

“We’re looking at trying to find the best way forward to be able to address this issue,” Juthani said, stressing that a major key to combat violence is community engagement. Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposal includes $3.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to create a statewide anti-violence strategy.

“As long as I’ve been in the legislature and seen many gun bills and many proposals, it always affects the law-abiding citizens,” Zupkus said. “It never affects people that don’t have gun permits; that are shooting each other. It never addresses that. And that’s the problem. It’s not people that use this as a sport, have their permit, you know, law-abiding citizens. This is the crime that is happening and nothing has been able to fix that. They never affect the people that need to be affected by these gun laws.”

Kudos to Zupkus for dropping that truth bomb on committee members, though I doubt that what she had to say really sunk in with the Democratic majority on the Public Health Committee. Still, the Republican wasn’t wrong in pointing out that the Democrats’ push for new gun control laws inevitably focuses on legal gun owners and not violent criminals. Heck, Lamont’s proposal to spend $3.5-million merely to devise an “anti-violence strategy” is more than three times what the state has spent over the past couple of years ensuring criminal defendants have representation in court; a necessary step if prosecutions are going to move forward.

Connecticut and Vermont are among the states that have tapped federal COVID-19 relief funds to bolster the public defender system.

In July 2020, Connecticut used just under $200,000 to hire six temporary lawyers to help address the case backlog, as well as cover for public defenders attorneys who were ill or had to quarantine, said Chief Public Defender Christine Rapillo.

Another $543,435 was authorized in July 2021 to hire 15 deputy assistant public defenders through the end of the year.

“I really can’t overstate how useful these temporary lawyers that we’ve been able to put in have been in our offices,” said Rapillo.

Lamont and Democrats are ready to hand over millions to paper-pushers and “community violence prevention groups” that may or may not have a track record of success, while the state’s criminal justice system is being held together with the equivalent of duck tape and string. There’s no shortage of strategies that the state legislature could adopt to address violent crime without imposing new gun control laws on the state’s legal gun owners, but it seems like there’s no real desire to do that either. Lamont himself said earlier this year that you “can’t be tough on crime if you’re weak on guns,” and Democrats have responded by myopically focusing on firearms rather than the individuals who are illegally possessing and using them in carjackings, robberies, home invasions, and homicides.

Connecticut has plenty of gun laws on the books as it is, including bans on modern sporting rifles and “large capacity” magazines, background checks on all gun and ammunition sales, and more. The fact that Democrats are still talking about the need for additional restrictions should be evidence enough that adding more gun laws to the books doesn’t lead to a safer society, but unfortunately as far as gun control activists are concerned any previous failures is only proof that more gun laws are needed. And given the Democrats’ dominance in the Connecticut legislature, expect them to keep attacking our Second Amendment rights instead of honestly addressing violent crime.