Tuesday, August 12, 2014

After Sandy Hook: Are You Safe?

On December 14 of this year, a month after Connecticut’s general elections, people in the state will be memorializing the second year of the Sandy Hook slaughter. On that occasion in 2012, Adam Lanza carried with him to Sandy Hook Elementary school an arsenal of weapons: an Izhmash Saiga 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle, a Glock 20 10mm semiautomatic handgun and a Sig Sauer P226 9mm semiautomatic handgun. He had taken with him to the school two 12-gauge shotgun magazines, ten 30-round .223 magazines, six 30-round 9mm magazines and six 30-round 10mm magazines. All the weapons and magazines had been lawfully purchased.

Leaving in the car the shotgun he had illegally appropriated from his mother, whom he had just murdered with a Savage Mark II bolt-action .22-caliber rifle, Mr. Lanza shot his way into the school and methodically murdered 26 people with the Bushmaster rifle. Having killed 20 young children and 6 staff members of the school, he then committed suicide with a pistol he had appropriated illegally from his mother. 

 In response to the mass murder, the General Assembly, at the urging of Governor Dannel Malloy, swiftly passed Bill 1160, requiring lawful gun owners to register weapons, most of them long rifles that appeared on a list of proscribed guns, among them the Bushmaster model used by Mr. Lanza, at the time the most popular and fastest selling sporting weapon in the United States.

Bill 1160 was not subject to the usual vetting process: There was no hearing on the final bill, which swept through the General Assembly on a wave of repulsion occasioned by the massacre.  Gun manufacturers in Connecticut were not consulted and played no part in offering recommendations. Following passage of the rushed bill, the mild protests of Connecticut gun manufacturers were met by the governor with open derision. At one point after the bill had passed, the governor said of gun manufactures, “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible -- even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns.”

Some Connecticut gun manufacturers, sensing their businesses would be irreparably damaged in what appeared to them to be a prospective election campaign featuring gun makers outfitted with cloven hooves and tails, responded to the governor’s unbridled demagoguery by moving out of state. Others predicted that Connecticut, still called “The Provision State”, would soon become, under the hammer blows of gun-restricting legislators and a campaign savvy governor, a gun manufacturing museum.

The overriding public safety questions – under unremitting threat by the usual disturbers of the peace, many of whom have prison records and who easily skirt any of the provisions of Bill 1160 – should play a significant part in the upcoming general election. It seems necessary and fitting to raise during the upcoming elections the all-important question: What has Mr. Malloy and the Democratic dominated General Assembly done – or, perhaps more importantly, failed to do – to insure the public’s safety from known criminal predators with prison records?

It is a given that criminals -- obviously not self-reporting, law abiding gun owners -- may easily avoid the obstacles throw up by Bill 1160 by obtaining proscribed weapons readily available on the black market. It is also a given that pistols rather than long guns, most of which are not outlawed by Bill 1160, are the weapons of choice among known criminals. Convicted felon and violent offender Frankie “The Razor” Resto had no difficulty in acquiring the weapon he used to murder Abraham Ghazal, the co-owner of an EZMart store in Meriden, soon after Mr. Resto had been released from prison. Mr. Resto was a beneficiary of Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Mike Lawlor’s deeply flawed Earned Risk Reduction Credits program.

For more than a year after Mr. Lawlor’s program was smuggled past the noses of watchful legislators in an end of session omnibus bill, conscientious, public safety minded legislators had been pressing Mr. Lawlor to exclude from his benefices violent criminals such as rapists -- to no avail. The Lawlor program was launched to reduce recidivism rates, but getting from Mr. Lawlor reliable recidivism data proved nearly impossible. Under Mr. Malloy’s dispensation, the state is fast becoming a data closed-shop.

If women in Connecticut – upon whom Republicans are supposed to have made war – feel comfortable with a regime that has granted get out of jail early credits retroactively to upwards of 7,589 inmates, they should have a conversation with women who have been the victims of Mr. Lawlor’s  therapeutic penology. People in Greenwich need not worry that violent Cons who have taken Mr. Lawlor’s therapeutic courses will be dumped on their doorsteps, but African American single mothers in crime infested urban areas may have cause to wonder whether their children will be safe from violent criminals awarded get out of jail early credits by Mr. Lawlor, an ex-prosecutor and former co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee whose personal life style renders him safe from attack by, among others: convicted rapists, kidnappers, arsonists, criminals who have assaulted pregnant woman and blind or disabled persons, criminals imprisoned for first degree assault, second degree strangulation, first degree threatening and having sex with boys or girls under the age of 13.  

If the state of Connecticut were seriously concerned with preventing gun crimes committed by known criminals, Mr. Lawlor and Mr. Malloy long ago would have exempted from the Orwellian titled “Risk Reduction Earned Credit” program all inmates who had illegally used a weapon in the commission of a crime.  At a bare minimum, Mr. Lawlor’s program should be changed to exclude the above violent felons. And if Mr. Lawlor does not submit his deeply flawed program to correction, Mr. Malloy should fire him.
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