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Bi-partisanship makes strong showing in Norwalk council

NORWALK, Conn. – The bi-partisan spirit ruled on Norwalk’s Common Council floor Tuesday evening as members calmly debated two words and four paragraphs in relation to the serious topic of gun violence, echoing concerns expressed on the national stage.

The Resolution in Favor of Responsible Gun Laws and their enforcement, sponsored by council members David McCarthy (R-District E), Michael Geake (U-District B), Sarah Mann (R-At Large), Bruce Kimmel (D-District D), Jerry Petrini (R-District D), Michelle Maggio (R-District C) and David Watts (D-District A), was moved up the agenda in the convivial atmosphere of the moment, a procedural move that only a parliamentarian would appreciate, but showing the cooperative spirit. Four paragraphs from Councilwoman Anna Duleep’s (D-At Large) resolution promoting Thursday’s March for Change were added to the resolution. There was even a victory for a citizen, as a word was changed in response to a complaint uttered during the public speaking portion of the meeting.

The resolution was “truly the product of the (Health, Welfare and Public Safety) committee,” said Kimmel, who wanted it discussed during the committee portion of the meeting as a matter of symbolism. Duleep agreed. She was surprised when McCarthy, who originated the resolution, asked to amend it to include part of her resolution.

“The second resolution might benefit from some work in committee,” McCarthy said. “Given the timeliness of it, I don’t want it to get lost.”

McCarthy also immediately announced that he wanted to change a word in response to Diane Lauricella, who took exception to the part of the resolution that referred to plummeting crime in Norwalk.

“Please don’t try to mask the increased gun violence with the reduction of overall violence,” Lauricella said. “Change this one line. I was really surprised you guys tried to sneak it in.”

The entire line was eventually removed from the resolution. “I chose the word plummeted, that made it through all of our discussions,” McCarthy said. “I did not mean to sneak that through at all.”

Duleep questioned the statistics mentioned in the resolution. Watts said the resolution wasn’t perfect but it didn’t need to be nit-picked.

“The intent was to speak out on illegal guns and try to do it in a bipartisan way,” Watts said. “I found Dave to be open. We had an open discussion … everyone participated line by line.”

McCarthy said the resolution benefited from being worked on in committee and that it was good it hadn’t been sprung on everyone as a surprise. Petrini said everyone was “very, very far apart” when the resolution was presented in its raw form.

“We have a lot of important things facing us,” he said. “The partisan politics – let it all be like this.”

Councilman Matt Miklave was unsuccessful in getting one word changed, though. Miklave said the early release program should be “reviewed” instead of “suspended.” Republicans strongly objected to that.

Miklave argued that the criminal justice system unfairly penalizes those who don’t have the opportunities more affluent people have. Kimmel said he understood Miklave’s objections but said the program isn’t working at present. Watt s said he disagreed with Miklave, as he feels responsible when his constituents must deal with a shooting in their neighborhood.

Warren Peña agreed with Miklave, saying he knew people, people he had grown up with in South Norwalk, who had been released early, making all the difference in their lives.

Miklave’s motion was defeated, with only three votes in his favor; his, Duleep’s and Peña’s.

The resolution then passed unanimously and the bi-partisan feeling began to fade.

Duleep made an effort at the end of the lengthy meeting to get her resolution considered. It was instead sent down to committee.

The non-binding product of all the discussion:

WHEREAS, firearms are used in over 2,000 crimes every year in Connecticut.

WHEREAS, in Connecticut, 60 percent of murders are committed by illegal firearms.

WHEREAS, in Connecticut, 23 percent of “small-city” 9th and 10th graders and 15 percent of affluent suburban 9th and 10th graders said that it would be “sort of easy” or “very easy” to get an illegal gun.

WHEREAS, in Connecticut, more than 85 percent of gun crimes are committed by people who cannot legally purchase guns.

WHEREAS, in Connecticut, there is already a ban on the sale of “assault weapons” as defined in Sec. 53-202a Chapter 943 of the Connecticut General Statutes as well as other laws related to the purchase of guns.

WHEREAS, on June 27, 2012, a Meriden convenience store owner named Ibrahim Ghazal was shot and killed by a violent felon with illegal gun related felony convictions released under the state’s“Early Release Program.”

WHEREAS, in Connecticut, of the 7,000 prisoners released under the “Early Release Program,” over 10 percent of them have been arrested for subsequent violent crimes, including many shootings with illegal guns, and are back behind bars.

WHEREAS, in the City of Norwalk, any crime committed with an illegal gun is of concern.

WHEREAS, Norwalk has experienced its share of gun violence due to the spread of illegal guns of all kinds.

WHEREAS, the city of Norwalk, its police department, and the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have experienced significant success in arresting those involved with the crime of gun running and illegal gun possession.

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut should increase the penalties for illegal gun-related crime, especially when it occurs near a school, and cause the enforcement of those laws already enacted, and the prosecution of those arrested under those laws, and facilitate the incarceration of those convicted under those laws.

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that the chief of police is encouraged to continue his work to reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets.

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the city of Norwalk that the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut should suspend its early release program for violent felons for further study.

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that we support the bicameral and bipartisan approach taken by the Connecticut General Assembly to address gun safety legislation in the aftermath of the mass murders and suicide in the Sandy Hook neighborhood of Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012; and

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that we fully expect the needs of Connecticut’s sixth largest municipality to be a significant factor in the deliberative process of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety; and

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that we support the efforts of March for Change and Connecticut Against Gun Violence to encourage the Connecticut General Assembly to collaborate on reasonable gun safety legislation in a timely fashion; and

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk we encourage the 86,000 residents of Norwalk to communicate their views to the Connecticut General Assembly by attending the Feb. 14, 2013 March for Change and submitting testimony online via www.cga.ct.gov/ASaferConnecticut.

ADOPTED by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk on Feb. 12, 2013

 

Comments

19 responses to “Bi-partisanship makes strong showing in Norwalk council”

  1. LWitherspoon

    It’s nice to see bipartisanship and a lack of self-aggrandizement and name calling, but what does this non-binding resolution accomplish? Chief Kulhawik is encouraged to keep doing his job. Norwalk citizens are encouraged to attend a march in Hartford. Is this truly the best that Norwalk can do? There are no concrete actions that the City itself can take to crack down on crime committed with illegal handguns?

  2. Dave McCarthy

    @LWitherspoon, In the past, something like the gun buy back program would have been dismissed as paying for broken guns. The chief and department have creatively fixed that issue and recently took about 20 guns off the street. Doing more things like that and maintaining the focus, not just the same old thing, was the essence of that line, which is one out of many.

    The march is a fine way for people to get involved and prompt change. Increasing the penalties for gun related crime near schools and ending the failing “Early Release Program” are very positive steps the state can take.

    I am open to suggestions as to what the city can do, so please let me know. Given the nature of laws vs. ordinances (i.e. literally what the city can do) I think prompting our legislators may be the best thing the council can do.

    I appreciate the compliment, but unfortunately, having been there, I have to say that some self-aggrandizing may have only been temporarily derailed. It shocked me how someone might support a resolution their name was associated with, but find fault with another on the same topic, merely because it didn’t.

    That brings to mind another topic that I must bring up… mental health treatment. It is obvious to me that while the State Dept of Mental Health and Addiction Services does a fine job, they are in react mode. Rather than building busways to nowhere, investment in this area might be more appropriate. Perhaps the focus has drifted to addiction to the detriment of the treatment of those with severe mental health issues. It is sad to see someone’s mental health deteriorate before one’s eyes. We have seen the results of allowing the insane to walk free and should takes steps to correct this.

  3. Anna Duleep

    @LWitherspoon: This resolution helps my efforts in Hartford enormously! Today, I plan to observe a forum involving Sen. Boucher’s subcommittee on school safety. If that forum is barred to the public, then I’ll be lobbying individual legislators to make sure Norwalk’s needs are a significant factor in their deliberations. Tomorrow is the March for Change. There is a huge difference between testifying as one individual (even one with approximately 86,000 constituents), and handing out copies of a signed resolution that was vetting in front of the public and that has bipartisan support. It passed unanimously. It mentions the March for Change. It calls upon every Norwalk resident to tell the Connecticut legislature exactly what he or she wants to have happen regarding gun safety legislation.

    I encourage you to visit http://www.cga.ct.gov/ASaferConnecticut/ for more information on the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.

    Part of my previous testimony to Sen. Boucher’s committee included an invitation for the members of her committee to tour our Norwalk schools. I want them to see that we cannot afford many of the sensible measures they will undoubtedly recommend. Sen. Boucher’s co-chair is Rep. Andy Fleischmann, a name familiar to every Norwalk parent who spoke at the ECS Task Force meetings in Hartford and Bridgeport. If school safety is the backdoor way to get people like West Hartford’s Rep. Fleischmann to take a close look at our ability to fund our schools in Norwalk, it can only help our collective efforts to bring more of our tax dollars back to Norwalk.

    I have been in talks with several members of Norwalk’s delegation to Hartford on this issue, including Minority Leader Cafero, who will be one of the speakers at Thursday’s March for Change. We are working together to bring funding into Connecticut to help us address gun violence. For more information on Thursday’s event, please visit http://www.marchforchange.org/

    Sincerely,

    Councilwoman Anna Duleep

  4. M. Murray

    Nice work. Glad there wasn’t a push for more useless restrictions.

  5. BARIN

    @ The Imposter Barin aka. The INSTIGATOR,
    Hi Nancy, I did not post at 11:51am today, I was nowhere near a computer.
    Some CHUCKLE HEAD posted using my name, can they do that legally? Do they get booted off your site post haste?
    I must be tipping someone’s apple cart, I’m the fly in their ointment, you get the picture.
    Low down dirty trick, is the person a Dem, Repub or a chameleon?
    Write your own stuff buddy!
    Can you identify the true writer of that post with their email address?
    Can you contact the person and call them on the carpet (publicly) for their dishonesty, this person needs help.
    Why would anyone do such a thing?
    Please let me know what you find out, I’d like to know who to watch my back around.
    p.s. Cut the ….
    Thank you in advance Nancy,
    The Original BARIN

    1. That commenter has now been banned from this site, as specified in our comment guidelines. The comment has been deleted. Thank you for pointing that out. We apologize for the problem.

  6. Original BARIN

    Thank you Nancy, you sure are fast.

  7. LWitherspoon

    @Councilpersons McCarthy and Duleep
    Thanks for your replies. I had not thought of the fact that the City is very limited with respect to its ability to pass new laws regarding gun crimes. The City does, however, have control over enforcement, right? So what kind of support can the Common Council provide the Police Commission and the Norwalk PD to help them enforce gun laws more effectively? Is there a way that new technology such as high resolution surveillance cameras can act as a force multiplier for the Norwalk PD, so that it’s easier to identify and arrest shooters? Or perhaps more aggressive tactics that would help root out illegal weapons? I would like to see the Council reach out to the Police Commission and the Norwalk PD and find concrete actions that the City itself can take, with no State involvement, above and beyond what is already being done. Handing out a copy of a signed resolution in Hartford is all well and good, but with all due respect it leaves me feeling like the Council is punting on this issue. If there is in fact nothing that we can do locally, what are the reasons for that?

  8. Dave McCarthy

    @Lwitherspoon, I don’t disagree and I regularly meet with at least one of the police commissioners. In the past, I have asked our police directly what they need to more effectively combat illegal guns. My thoughts went to technology, like the Gunfire Location Sensors that use triangulation to pinpoint where a gun has been fired. The answer from the officers was no. Ineffective and not useful. My father was a police officer for 32 years and I am willing to look at any solutions that would have an impact on reducing illegal gun crime.

  9. Original BARIN

    @ DMcCarthy,
    I think former Police Chief Rilling may be able to confirm, but I thought at the time that system was removed from the budget as too costly.

  10. Original BARIN

    Community policing along with residents diligence, as well as if you see something say something.
    If all witnesses come forward to identify the criminals, that would help police more than any one thing.
    The fear the criminals will retaliate is tough to overcome, it is easy for me to say come forward, but I dont live there.
    Having lived in several of the Norwalk Housing Authority properties growing up, I do recall police being very involved in our community, Officers Carneglia and Officer brothers, the Losprogato’s setting up sports teams at Colonial Village.
    In Washington Village, Mr. Torpey along with Nap Chenard sponsored our team, with uniforms at Duffy’s Field.
    Free summer camps every year, church league basketball, always something to keep us busy.
    We need that kind of community back again.

    We need that back around here.

  11. Joanne Romano

    What we need is more funding for local health clinics to help individuals with anger/mental health issues. I say local because goverment run agancies don’t get to the key issues of agression, they are minimal and not individualized. Our local agencies have a better grip on the needs of the community. They are able to evaluate properly and they know the community in which they exist. What we need are programs that begin at an early age to identify the needs of the kids who are prone to being driven by the need to fit in. Those who by their classmates and peers are designated as outcasts and not allowed normal childhoods by one circumstance or other. The D.A.R.E. program is a good example, it teaches kids the need to stay away from drugs. Maybe Norwalk could begin a program that would be a model for other communities on the affects of gun violence which could include those who are experts in the field of mental health issues that would help identify the needs of young children determined by their surroundings. The resolution is a good starting point but so much more needs to be done to take the crime out of our neighborhoods and educate and help those who have the mindset that this is just a way of life. Children are no longer children anymore and many will never grow to be productive adults unless we the adults show them the way. Many will never even live past their teens because of the violence we are seeing across the nation. They can’t go play outside as we did as kids, they don’t have the luxury of being just kids! Their lives begin in turmoil and many end the same way. Its up to the community to step in to educate and protect! Working with our lawmakers and police departments is key to success. Working against them spells out disaster. Gun control needs to start with those who make their living selling illegal guns. They need to be put away without a slap on the wrist. Background checks are key and should include a menatl health evaluation and or mental health reporting on the individual. Too many times people are given permits without so much as a comprehensive background check, Unacceptable. We can all march on Washington, Hartford or anywhere else we want to march, but without eliminating the sale and purchase of illegal weapons and assuring that these people are convicted and punished and that each and every state complies with these laws, there will always be illegalguns on the streets and by banning firearms all together will only leave criminals in possesion of them. The everday citizen will be the only ones unprotected. People need to be realistic and educated when demanding new laws and they need to be able to understand that what you ask for may not always be the solution. Assault weapons have no place within a community/home. The only ones who should ever be in possesion of them is law officials and military. There is no excuse. I have never seen a hunter use an assault weapon to take down a deer, so someone needs to tell me why anyone other than those I mentioned should at any time be in possesion of them? I believe in the right to bear arms but there needs to be limitations somewhere and the only way this is going to turn out good is to get the illegal guns off the streets enforce the laws we have, strict and comprehensive background checks, mental health awareness and prosecute to the fullest, those who choose to ignore the laws!

    Comprehensive Background Checks use multiple primary and secondary sources to increase your probability of finding hidden problems.

  12. Original BARIN

    @Joanne,
    You made great points, but in reality background checks will only work for folks legally buying guns. It is virtually impossible to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, if each state had the same requirements for sales and purchases of guns that would help.
    You will still have people selling guns illegally, just drive to a state with lax checks, then drive back to any state and sell the guns to any buyer with cash, it should not be that simple.
    As for stolen legally purchased guns being used in crimes, it would be wise to require the use of the new technology out there for gun locks that only the legal owner of the weapon can unlock.
    At some point officials have to make a real stand and stop the lip service.

  13. LWitherspoon

    @Dave McCarthy
    NYC appears to have experienced a major drop in crime due in part to their aggressive and controversial “stop and frisk” program. Are there any lessons there for Norwalk?

  14. Dave McCarthy

    I’m in favor of that as well as the “broken windows” approach favored by NYPD in the Giuliani years. I know there can be civil liberties issues, but in the short run, action and once there is improvement, refine the approach.

  15. Original BARIN

    @ Spoon and DMcCarthy
    Absolutely, we should try anything at our disposal, then decide what works best for Norwalk.
    The stop and frisk controversy had instances of abuse of power by some police officers in NYC.
    As we already know, Police along with Firefighters, have only seconds to make life or death decisions, not only to protect us, but for their own protection as well, and sometimes humans make the wrong decision.
    I really don’t feel Norwalk would have a problem similar to NYC, the police department here fits well within our community, they’re a group of great people that care about all of us.
    Any reasonable person would understand the necessity of a Norwalk stop and frisk program.
    It is worth looking into for sure, let’s face it; someone stops you, if you’ve done nothing wrong there’s nothing to worry about anyway, right?

  16. Joanne Romano

    Absolutely…but then you’ll have those who accuse the officers of profiling for one reason or other, the lawsuits will be flying out the windows like caged pigeons.

    How about enforcing what we have already and educating young and old on the problems of this so called no snitch rule? I so love the idea of the old time Scared Straight programs!

  17. LWitherspoon

    @Dave McCarthy
    How do the Police Commission and the Norwalk PD feel about “stop and frisk”?

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