Congress needs to try again on gun control

Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling participates in a 2011 press conference after a shooting near Norwalk Hospital.
Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling participates in a 2011 press conference after a shooting near Norwalk Hospital.

By Harry Rilling

Norwalk Democratic Mayoral Candidate

NORWALK, Conn. – Amongst the mourners most disturbed by gun violence are police officers. Not only are they frequent victims themselves, but they understand well the mindless damage that can result from unregulated access to assault-style weapons and unnecessarily large magazines. As society’s first line of defense against criminal violence, police officers are uniquely interested in the outcome of the state and federal legislative debates on adopting common-sense measures to reduce gun violence.

Guns kill 30,000 people in our country each year, approximately the same as are killed in automobile accidents.

Those of us who carried guns for a living envision a safer world where owners keep their weapons securely locked away, where sensible background checks keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and others ill-equipped to carry a gun, and where military-style weapons and magazines are restricted to the military and law enforcement.

Thus for me and for other law enforcement professionals, the U.S. Senate’s vote to turn down the recently proposed gun control package was an insult. The bill, the softest of any proposed legislation so far, focused on large magazines and on universal background checks for new buyers. The senators who killed basic background checks did so in opposition to the more than 90 percent of Americans who support them, according to recent polls.

In no way have I ever opposed the right of the American people to possess firearms. There are, however, checks and balances that can significantly reduce gun violence. We have witnessed far too many random mass killings to continue to bury our heads in the sand.

In January, I proposed seven common-sense measures to stem gun violence in our communities. Unfortunately only one of those recommendations – implementing emergency plans in all schools – has been widely pursued. However, no amount of preparation and planning can stop completely a committed and well-armed killer at the door of a school. Therefore we need other measures to keep firearms from the hands of those inclined to commit these heinous acts of violence.

Many of the measures I endorsed were adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly but only federal legislation can implement nationwide reforms. That’s why it is time for reasonable people to work towards effective legislation that could reduce the likelihood of an incident similar to the tragedy in Sandy Hook.

Congress needs to take another crack at passing legislation to regulate large magazines and to keep guns out of the hands of unstable individuals. I’ve seen first-hand the devastation wrought by guns, and I know that these two modest steps will make Norwalk and all our communities safer for everyone.

Harry Rilling, former Norwalk police chief


4 responses to “Congress needs to try again on gun control”

  1. Don’t Panic

    First rule of being prepared: Spending your time defending against a past attack leaves you unprepared to deal with the next one.

    Guns were not a persuasive issue in the last mayor’s race and they don’t look to be one in this race either. Nor is it helpful to be focusing on national legislation when there are so many pressing local issues.

    Besides having the privilege of deciding who gets a gun and who doesn’t, and “proposing” and “endorsing”, can you tell the citizens of Norwalk exactly what you and your police force did to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals here in Norwalk? How many guns did you all seize over the years?

    It is crass beyond words to be playing politics with this issue at this time. A lot of people here in Norwalk hold you in high regard. You can do better than this.

  2. Tim T

    Odd Harry talking about gun control considering how miserably the NPD under his leadership failed to control illegal guns in Norwalk.

  3. Old timer

    Any plan to run the city requires many parts. Taking a stand on federal gun control legislation is one of those parts. It is important for voters to know where candidates stand on gun control. There is no doubt Harry has more ideas on controlling gun misuse in. Norwalk , many he was not allowed to speak out on when he was working for Moccia.
    The consequences for illegal possession or use of guns has to be truly prohibitive. Prohibitive enough to make such crimes not worth the risk. A mayor does not have control on the legislature or the courts, but he certainly has a “bully pulpit” to influence how both work. A mayor with Harry’s background, leading a group of mayors of cities with similar gun violence problems, could accomplish a great deal. Moccia has had too much time with nothing to show for it. It is time for a change. None of the candidates knows as much as Harry does about gun violence, and how to stop it.

  4. Tim T

    Old Timer
    You say “Harry has more ideas on controlling gun misuse in. Norwalk”. Tell that to the many many victims of gun violence in Norwalk. If these crimes were solved while Harry was at command of the NPD that would be one thing, but as we all know that was not the case. In as much as I think Moccia is a horrid mayor I don’t think that he told Rilling not to control gun violence in Norwalk .

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