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Gun violence issue unites Norwalk council members

NORWALK, Conn. – Yet another non-binding resolution is up for consideration at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting but we can expect the results to be much more favorable than other resolutions presented in recent months.

The Resolution in Favor of Responsible Gun Laws and their Enforcement is bipartisan and is sponsored by seven of the 15 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).

The resolution:

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 7000 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, even while the overall crime rate has plummeted in the last sixyears, 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.

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

Comments

10 responses to “Gun violence issue unites Norwalk council members”

  1. oldtimer

    The response will be “the early release program saves a lot of money”. If they see the real numbers on what it cost to keep someone incarcerated, the supporters of this resolution may reconsider. The problem is not so much with early release, but with how prisoners are evaluated for getting released. Some are clearly going right back to their old haunts and the practices that got them incarcerated in the first place, and need to serve the full sentence.

  2. LWitherspoon

    It’s nice to see some bipartisanship, and I agree that the state’s Early Release program has problems, but what does this resolution accomplish apart from upsetting the powers that be in Hartford? Norwalk’s Chief of Police is encouraged to continue efforts to reduce the number of illegal guns on the street, efforts which the resolution acknowledges have been successful. Was there any danger of him stopping?

  3. Joe Espo

    Another stupid, useless resolution. What a waste of time, energy and reputation.

    Yeah, sure, increasing state prosecution and penalties- things that happen AFTER the bad guy shoots a rival drug dealer in the head in front of a school – is really, REALLY going to stop a criminal who already disregards the existing penalties. And what power does the Council have over the fools up in Hartford on this?

    Encourage the chief of police to reduce the number of illegal guns? Well, DUH!! THAT’S HIS JOB!!! He should need encouragement to do his job?? The problem is that the criminals are smart enough to prevent the chief from doing his job because the guns are hidden. And it’s the Police Commission’s job to do this “encouragement” anyway.

    Suspend the early release program? Where is the State going to get the money to build new prisons? And in who’s precious back yard? Not mine! The early release program is exactly a substitute for building new prison space so that old prisoners can make way for new ones!

    The council is better off wearing lapel ribbons or something, printing bumperstickers, crossing their fingers…whatever; because it’s just as effective a solution to the problem as some foolish David Watts-type reolution.

  4. Bryan Meek

    I’m not saying go back to chain gangs, but convicts should have to work to reduce their sentences. We could put them to work cleaning up, tearing down, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Instead of getting their 3 squares and learning how to become more accomplished criminals, they would instead have a marketable job skill when they get out and the state would benefit from their labor in cleaning up our urban decay. A young man with a job and purpose and pride in his neighborhood will go a lot further than some new laws that we can’t enforce.

  5. LWitherspoon

    @Bryan Meek

    Great idea but the unions would never allow it.

  6. Bryan Meek

    @LW. Union leadership needs to be educated. There is plenty of work to go around and this country needs to get back to building things.

    A convict costs $30,000 to incarcerate a year. If that same individual is instead making $40,000 a year and paying $10,000 in combined taxes, that is $40,000 back into the system than can in turn be used for more and more projects. The need for prison guards diminishes, but their numbers are cut by attrition. Everyone could be made happy if they can be made to see the big picture.

  7. Diane C2

    @bryan: Your suggestion for work requirement is a win-win situation. And “purpose and pride” are key elements of worthwhile endeavors – well said.

    As to union balking, here’s the 3-step plan:

    1) Train early release prisoners for shovel-ready and
    skilled labor.
    2) Make room for new prisoners
    3) Imprison the union leaders.

  8. Diane C2

    On a more serious note, I tend to agree with Joe (heaven help me) on his point that encouraging someone to do what he or she is already paid and expected to do is kind of bizarre in a resolution. Perhaps if they resolved to ask commission to reallocate resources (manpower) to the current efforts? But simply encourage him to do his job? I don’t get it.

    Plus, what are these “whereas” items about?:

    “WHEREAS, in the City of Norwalk, even while the overall crime rate has plummeted in the last sixyears, any crime committed with an illegal gun is of concern.”

    Plummeted? Seriously? I may have missed it, but where can I find the data that supported that claim, and what is the drop in violent crime vs. overall crime?

    “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.”

    Is that a fact? Based on what data and compared to what?

  9. LWitherspoon

    @Diane
    Excellent comment. Perhaps this resolution should be renamed the “Keep Doing Your Job” resolution.
    I share your interest in the data supporting the claims in the WHEREAS statements. It seems like there is a lot of talk in Norwalk about crime, but it’s generally grounded in emotion or “gotcha” politics rather than hard statistics. Hopefully a member of the local media will delve into the numbers and give us a fact-based analysis. What do you say Nancy? 😉

  10. Anna Duleep

    @DianeC2 & LWitherspoon: I’d encourage you to ask the Common Council for the backup materials regarding this resolution (or just ask for the source of the statistics during public participation). I erred on the side of more, rather than less, backup for the resolution I submitted for this Council meeting (supporting the March for Change & demanding common sense gun safety legislation)!

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