State Rep. Matthew Lesser (D-100th) said he's taking the resolution passed at the common council's last meeting in response to the Newtown school shootings very seriously.
At its January meeting, the Middletown Common Council urged state and local leaders to change gun regulation laws, restrict the accessibility of violent video games by minors, and overhaul mental heath services to aid "at-risk" individuals after deaths of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. See the full text of the resolution in the attached pdf.
Lesser said he attended the meeting looking for input. “This and the budget are the two biggest issues of the session,” he said. “It’s really at the top of my agenda.”
In fact, Lesser met Sunday with gun owners in Middletown, whom he said are among many strong proponents of the Second Amendment and mental health advocates who are “going out of their comfort zones,” by talking about gun control and “stronger laws for helping people get the treatment that they need.”
The issue is on the minds of every member of the Legislature, Lesser said. "It’s weighing very heavily upon us." And everywhere he goes, his constituents are asking him how such a massive tragedy can be prevented from happening ever again.
On Monday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced the Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Reduction for our Street Act, which creates a tax credit to encourage the turn-in of assault weapons to state or local police.
“Let us be clear. Assault weapons are not about hunting or even self-defense and they should be off the streets,” DeLauro said. “There is no reason on Earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time, that anyone needs a gun designed for military purposes."
The act creates a $2,000 refundable tax credit ($1,000 for two consecutive years) for an assault weapon owner who turns in their firearm to state police.
Also, on Dec. 17, the House Legislators approved Resolution 833, which condemned the attacks in Newtown by voice vote. It was sponsored by Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-5) and co-sponsorsed by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-2), Rosa DeLauro (D-3), Jim Himes, (D-4) and John Larson, (D-1).
The Legislature, Lesser said, must "act intelligently and take the opportunity to try to get a kernel of good out of a horrific tragedy."
Still, he admitted, much is not known about what prompted Adam Lanza to kill 27 people on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And as responsive as a community can be to dealing with gun control and the mentally ill, it’s still somewhat restricted.
“There’s nothing we can do that will ensure that a deeply disturbed individual will never hurt anybody else. There’s nothing that we can do to convince a 100 percent guarantee that that’s not going to happen. All we can do is make it a little bit easier for people who need help and make it a little bit harder for those with evil intent to hurt their neighbors,” Lesser said.