Rethinking Public Safety: Shapiro on Connecticut's Gun Law

In advance of the Dart Center’s April 22 symposium Sandy Hook and Beyond: Breaking News, Trauma and Aftermath, Dart Center executive director Bruce Shapiro writes in the Nation this week about the new gun legislation in Connecticut.

The bi-partisan move in the Connecticut state legislature “vindicates go-for-broke political leadership in the face of tragedy,” Shapiro writes. In fact, while the debate over how to regulate the industry continues on a national level, Connecticut’s action is impressive in several ways. The legislation goes further than post-Newtown gun laws passed in New York, Colorado and Maryland. ("If we had the law that we signed today in effect, Mrs. Lanza would not have been able to purchase that gun,” Connecticut Governmor Daniel Malloy said. “It would not have been in that home.") Connecticut's legislation also initiaties sweeping reform of the state's communituy mental-health infrastructure.

In addition, as Shapiro writes, “no state has a longer partnership with the firearms industry, a history more potent than the NRA on its best day…. For generations, the state's politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, nurtured an economy bound to armaments ranging from sidearms to nuclear submarines.”

So the bi-partisan support of the bill, spearheaded by the Republican State Senate minority leader, John McKinney, whose district includes Newtown, was significant. And it has not been appreciated by Connecticut’s firearms industry. One of the state’s weapons makers, PTR, announced that it will pull its business out of the state. And in a further demonstration of the strong divide on the issue, Republican governor Rick Perry used his Twitter account to communicate to PRI that “Texas is still wide open for business!! Come on down!”

On April 22, at Columbia University, the Dart Center and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism will hold a special day-long symposium exploring the impact and ramifications of the Sandy Hook shootings, featuring journalists, community leaders, mental health experts, policy advocates and Sandy Hook families. The event is free and open to the public. It will also be streamed live here at Dartcenter.org. Please RSVP to [email protected]