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State's Black And Latino Caucus Plans Community Forums on Gun Violence

First Meeting Set For Wednesday Night In Hartford


February 21, 2013

HARTFORD State lawmakers in the Black and Latino Caucus announced plans Thursday to hold public forums with residents in Connecticut cities long beleaguered with gun violence.

"Many people in our communities do not have the luxury of coming to the state Capitol to testify on bills because they are hourly workers," said state Rep. Douglas McCrory, a Hartford Democrat.

"But they are very concerned," McCrory said. "We should've probably had this conversation two or three years ago. The reality is what happened at Sandy Hook has caused everyone across this country to look in the mirror ... to look for plausible solutions."

Caucus members said they want to spotlight the shootings that have damaged urban neighborhoods, where the perpetrators are often young men with limited education, and from broken homes, who gain illegal access to firearms.

The first town hall-style meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Faith Congregational Church on Main Street in Hartford. McCrory said there will be two such meetings in Hartford and possibly one in New Haven, and potentially other cities, in the coming weeks.

While a bipartisan legislative task force has been exploring new policies after the Newtown school shooting, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released his own comprehensive gun control proposal shortly before the caucus' press conference at the state Legislative Office Building Thursday.

Some lawmakers in the caucus said they were unaware of the details, which include expanding the state's assault weapons ban, prohibiting large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and universal background checks.

State Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, the Black and Latino Caucus chairman, said Malloy had not reached out to his group for recommendations. However, the caucus has not yet taken a position on specific policies, Candelaria said, and will likely begin crafting its stance around mid-March after hearing from constituents.

State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, a Democrat and mayoral candidate in New Haven, said he wants legislation that addresses "the type of gun violence we see on a regular basis." An approach could include mental health services for city youth who have suffered their own losses in the streets.

"These kids who are shooting each other have traumatic experiences, which are a mental health problem," Holder-Winfield said. "It's not just the video games, it's not just people who have been bullied. It's people who have had those instances of trauma."

Democrat Brandon McGee, a new state representative for Hartford and Windsor, said he wants school superintendents, town managers and police chiefs to be involved in the conversation.

For McCrory, a big issue is handguns on the black market.

In Hartford, "you can ask any child over the age of 14 years old where they can get a gun, and they can tell you where to get a gun," said McCrory, a school administrator. "It's that easy."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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