Anti-Gun State Makes Smart Move On Gun Violence

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

The state of Connecticut, like most states in New England, tend to have just one setting when it comes to gun violence, and that’s to call for more gun control. There’s almost never another possible solution to any problem and there’s no reason anyone should have guns.

At least, that’s sure as hell what it looks like from out here.

However, it appears that I horribly misjudged Connecticut. While they sure to like their gun control, they recently made a move that I think is pretty smart when it comes to addressing violent crime.

As State Sens. Marilyn Moore, Doug McCrory, Gary Winfield and Patricia Billie Miller demanded in an emotional and very personal way at a press conference at the State Capitol, the time is long past for Connecticut to invest in the perennially under-resourced communities they represent. To eradicate the root causes of violence —despair and lack of opportunity— resources need to be put into education, job training, affordable housing and healthcare. “As a Black person, we have learned how to survive in this country,” Sen. McCrory remarked. “We’re not interested in survival anymore. We want to thrive.”

In parallel to investing in opportunity, there is an urgent need to put more resources into community-based gun violence prevention efforts. We can’t afford to wait until systemic change takes hold to solve the problem of interpersonal violence. With gun homicides up 50 percent last year, we need an intervention now. That is the objective of the Connecticut Initiative to Prevent Community Gun Violence, an effort proposed by CT Against Gun Violence in partnership with a broad, and growing, coalition of organizations that address the needs of marginalized communities and advocate for social justice, racial equity and gun violence prevention.

The CT Initiative seeks to establish a state-level Office of Community Gun Violence Prevention, tasked with funding and implementing evidence-based, community-centric, programs and strategies to reduce street-level gun violence in Connecticut’s larger urban centers. Dedicated staff resources with multi-disciplinary expertise would bring the focus and attention needed to address and coordinate a response to Connecticut’s community violence problem. It would be responsible for securing federal, state and private dollars to provide stable grant funding to supported programs. An advisory council composed of community leaders, survivors of gun violence, executive branch agencies, state and local elected officials, public health experts, law enforcement and gun violence prevention advocates would provide guidance, ensure accountability and guarantee that voices of the community are part of the oversight.

In other words, they’re going after the root causes of gun violence and, by extension, most other violent crimes as well.

Note that nothing in this mentions the word gun control. This is an office that will seek to cut out violent crime by the root, addressing the very things which lead people down that path.

Let’s be honest here, no one grows up wanting to be a violent criminal. They end up going that way because of any number of factors, though, and by addressing those factors, you can nip the entire problem in the bud.

This is a drum I’ve beat for a long time here, and while I tend to be critical of Connecticut, I think this is a smart move, and it’s a move gun rights supporters need to rally behind as well.

Think about it. If we can reduce violent crime without gun control, then we undermine the very idea of gun control as a necessary thing. Yet for that to happen, these offices can’t just exist in anti-gun states. Pro-gun states need to pick this effort up as well. If they can show results while not restricting gun rights–or, even better, expanding them–then the anti-gun argument fizzles like a water drop on a hot skillet.