Some have asked why I voted no on the gun control bill Wednesday night.
My "no" vote had nothing to do with what's in the bill because I agree with 95 percent of the content. My problem is what is missing from the bill.
The cities in Connecticut have an illegal handgun problem, not a long gun problem. This bill only deals with sales and background checks for long guns. Too many handguns are illegally making their way onto the streets and into the homes of Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. In the city of Hartford, almost 300 residents have lost their lives in the last 10 years alone because of this problem.
Our children are growing up in an environment where they are two to three years behind academically. Their families are dealing with high unemployment. They may not even be living with their biological parents. And there is constant violence.
These kids are left to figure out how to get out of this cycle. Society offers no help due to a lack of systemic support and opportunities. Therefore, it's important to create a support system, which doesn't currently exist, to help them figure out how to make informed decisions — or the cycle will just continue for generations.
In Connecticut, we know most gun violence takes place in our three largest cities, Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a speech at the Capitol on March 30 that, "In 2011, we had 129 homicides in the state of Connecticut. Ninety-four of those occurred in three communities Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. We've got to do something in our urban environments to stop the flow of blood on our streets."
We know who is committing the crimes and we know who the victims are. If we want to change the reality for the people who live there, we must provide resources for those who want to change their environment. That includes employment, better education, quality health care and opportunity to reform their lives after making a mistake. For our youth, we must provide chances for employment. By doing this they will not be drawn into the negative influences that populate their community.
The investment I am looking for is small and on the front end, which will help out in the long run. The gun bill language states that at least 500 more people are predicted to be in jail by 2016 with these new regulations. The amount of money that this anticipated jail time will cost is much more expensive than an investment now, which would allow young men to get help and prevent them from breaking laws that could land them in jail. I believe if we spent more money on prevention in this bill, we would not have to spend so much on the back end.
As a legislator it is my job to speak for the people who elected me. Sometimes you have to make decisions on based on your conscience, even if they aren't popular.
Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, represents the 7th Assembly District.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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