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Working To Reduce Gun Violence

Group Advocates Gun Safety And Reducing Illegal Gun Ownership

Many have been affected in some way by the proliferation of gun violence, and in the spirit of reducing such tragedies, the head of a Connecticut advocacy group recently detailed measures for change and described what he called the politics of gun violence.

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said the 4,500 members of his group are not “gun grabbers,” as opponents of their work might characterize them, but rather advocates for keeping guns out of the hands of illegal owners and for safeguarding guns in the home.

The problem in making headway toward that end is the politics of gun violence, resulting in an imbalance between those who support gun reform and those who don’t, namely the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying organization, Pinciaro told members of the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut at their annual meeting last week. (As a matter of disclosure, the writer is a board member of the local League.)

The League, which comprises 18 towns in the region, is a non-partisan organization open to all and is part of the U.S. League of Women Voters, which believes the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons is a major health and safety threat to its citizens. The national League supports strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of these weapons by private citizens and supports regulating firearms for consumer safety.

Pinciaro cited a recent New England Journal of Medicine study that said guns in the home are 47 times more likely to be used against a member of the household. He also said U.S. gun-related deaths average 30,000 a year, compared with 15 in Japan, which has half of our population. Connecticut, he said, has the fourth-lowest rate of gun deaths in the country at 4.7 per 100,000 population, while Alaska ranks first with 24.9 per 100,000.

Through a combination of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, preceded by a 1986 gun owners protection act and coupled with the reality that members of Congress might lose re-election bids after voting for gun bans, the idea of gun reform has turned into a passionate us-versus-them issue, according to Pinciaro.

Why have pro-gun lobbying efforts been so successful? “The answer is follow the money,” Pinciaro said. “… The NRA is a trade organization and they control the Congress.”

The NRA operates with a $400 million annual budget, while CAGV and other like-minded groups, combined, work with $30 million, he said.

“That makes it very difficult. Plus they are very organized and they are very passionate,” Pinciaro said. “Our supporters are not motivated like they are.”

One of the main reasons for this passion to own guns is the change in interpretation over the years of the Second Amendment, a simple amendment that has proven to be a complicated and difficult concept.

The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The controversy rises in the interpretation of the amendment's wording and whether it means continuing state militias for defense or giving individuals the right to own firearms. 

Pinciaro cited the January mass shooting in Arizona that injured a Congresswoman and  killed six people. The shooter used a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round magazine, and said, despite that tragedy, gun legislation proposed after the shooting could not even get a hearing because of strong gun support in that state. 

“It’s all about politics, Pinciaro said. “The political calculus of the votes.”

CAGV's mission is to identify, develop and promote campaigns to pass legislation designed to enhance gun safety in the state. The group recently supported a bill in Connecticut’s Legislature, SB 1094, which would have banned large capacity ammunition magazinesgun feeding devices that accept more than 10 rounds, such as 9mm guns. Twenty million of these large capacity magazines exist in Connecticut, according to Pinciaro.

The bill did not come to a vote out of the Judiciary committee, as it had no Republican votes and lost some expected Democratic votes because this type of ammunition would be taken from owners without compensation and also because more than 200 gun rights activists opposed the bill at a public hearing.

The public has another chance to voice opinion on two bills currently in the Legislature: SB 1096, making possession of ammunition illegal for anyone prohibited from owning firearms; and SB 998, creating a gun-offender registry. The bills, proposed by Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, have passed favorably out of the Judiciary and Public Safety committees.      

Pinciaro said he could not pinpoint when gun ownership became such a hot-button cultural issue, but he said despite all of that passion, gun ownership is going down. It peaked in 1977 when 54 percent of American households had a gun. In 2010, that percentage decreased to 32.3 percent, the lowest level recorded by the independent General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In Connecticut, 16.2 percent of households have guns now.

“The gun culture ultimately is fading way,” he said. “There is hopeI’m not sure it will happen in my lifetime.”

The problem remains with the number of illegal guns available and the lack of previous, but now underfunded, tracking methods, that foster countless, senseless gun deaths.

navydan June 05, 2011 at 01:56 PM
You mention the New England Journal of Medicine study ("Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home", Arthur L. Kellerman, New Eng. J. Med., June 12, 1986). First, it suggested that handguns are 43 times (not 47 times) more likely to kill a family member. But that's an intentionally skewed study. Of the 43 deaths reported, 37 (86%) were due to suicide. It's quite arguable that someone committed to killing themselves would likely do it anyway that found possible, regardless of laws. Other deaths in the study included criminal activity between family members (drug deals gone bad, etc.). Of the remaining deaths, the deceased family members include felons, drug dealers, and violent spouses committing assault. So, this "43 times" thing doesn't mean innocent family members are getting killed while criminals aren't, as that "fact" would have you believe. Additionally, the author of the study INTENTIONALLY didn't include cases in which burglars or intruders were wounded or frightened away. This study was conceived to reach a desired result, and of course that's what it did. Also, only 0.1% (1 in a thousand) of defensive uses of guns result in the death of the predator. So there could be 999 legitimate self-defense uses without killing the "bad guy." So if one person commits a suicide with a gun in the house, you could sell people a statistic that says guns are just as likely to kill a family member as a criminal. Completely misleading.
navydan June 05, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Also, Japan is a nice example for anti-gun folks because they do happen to be a country with low crime and low access to guns. However, that correlation doesn't exist everywhere in the world. As of 2005, according to the U.N., Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world. There, people were three times more likely to be assaulted than in the U.S. Violent crime there has doubled over the last 20 years, and 3% of Scots had been victim of assault compared to 1.2% of Americans. That is a country with very low percentage of households with firearms. ("Scotland tops list of world's most violent countries", The Times, September 19, 2005 Also, look at Mexico. That is a country with extremely high levels of gun control - there is one gun store in Mexico City for the entire civilian population, and even then you were extremely limited in what you MIGHT be allowed to possess. Mexico also happens to be a massively violent country where civilians are not allowed to have the means to defend themselves. On the other side, look at Switzerland. It has very lenient gun control for European standards. And has the third lowest homicide rate of major European countries. Most homes have a military rifle due to their rules of anyone who's served in the army being allowed to keep their rifle. (Carol Kalish, International Crime Rates, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, "Army rifles remain racked at home", Swiss Defense Ministry statement).
navydan June 05, 2011 at 02:13 PM
I also love the following sentiment: "Why have pro-gun lobbying efforts been so successful? 'The answer is follow the money,' Pinciaro said. '… The NRA is a trade organization and they control the Congress.'...The NRA operates with a $400 million annual budget, while CAGV and other like-minded groups, combined, work with $30 million, he said." What every single person who lambast the NRA (a group that I occasionally also find myself at odds with) fails to acknowledge, is that the money and support that the NRA wields doesn't appear magically out of thin air. The reason why it's such a powerful lobbying group is because there are so many people in this country who support their mission. What that translates to is, despite how much anti-gun folks hate the idea of liberty and freedom in gun ownership, most people disagree with them! And in our constitutional republic, their angst and frustration doesn't get to win out just because they're unhappy with it. An unscientific thought to boot: Consider the general membership of the NRA (as I perceive them). They're probably not overwhelmingly wealthy, yet they STILL manage to fund their chosen lobby to an extent that it has significant sway with some members of Congress. Imagine that: a group supported by a large enough number of working class citizens who don't get some elite workaround of the laws. That's probably what a lobby group is SUPPOSED to be.
navydan June 05, 2011 at 02:15 PM
"'That makes it very difficult. Plus they are very organized and they are very passionate,' Pinciaro said. 'Our supporters are not motivated like they are.' Why is that? Generally, the group that owns lawful property and simply wants to live their lives typically fights harder with greater passion to PROTECT themselves from those who want to interfere and take away that ability based oftentimes on shaky "facts" and emotional conjecture.
navydan June 05, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Also, I'm not sure where the guy in the article is getting his "facts" about gun ownership in the U.S., but I'll try this: The Federal government estimated that there were over 65 million gun owners in the U.S. and more than 50% were handgun owners. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1997.) This number is generally considered low due to the reluctance of many to admit to a government agency that they own a gun. Other estimates indicate that between 41% and 49% of U.S. households are gun-owning households. 43% of Americans claim that they own a gun. (Americans by Slight Margin Say Gun in the Home Makes It Safer, Gallup Poll, October 20, 2006) Overall, I've pretty much just tried to point out how any of the supposed statistics in this article used to make its case are questionable at best, oftentimes circumstantial, and typically misleading. Believe me, I've spent enough time looking at both sides to see that that's pretty much the Modus Operandi for the anti-gun side. Anyone who spends any real time studying the issue will plainly see that the overwhelming amount of evidence and fact supports the pro-gun side. That's the entire reason I started becoming more and more interested in the issue: I constantly saw one side using facts and logic, and the other using emotion, and I couldn't believe there was still a discussion...but here we are. http://gunfacts.info/pdfs/gun-facts/5.1/gun-facts-5.1-screen.pdf -> It proves everything else!
Montana Libertarian June 05, 2011 at 02:50 PM
What navydan said. . .
navydan June 05, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Thanks! I try... :)
jimg9x21 June 05, 2011 at 06:27 PM
The number of errors in the article are too numerous to mention but I’ll pick a few. Last time I checked “proliferation” would indicate an increase in gun violence but he FBI’s latest report shows a continuing drop in this category while the number of legal guns in American homes has skyrocketed. The AMA “study” (and it’s not recent) about guns in homes being 47 times . . . has been shown to be flawed from an academic point of view and to keep repeating this bogus information does a disservice to the listeners. Also, please stop using the NRA “powerful lobby” canard. The NRA draws its power from its membership (not manufacturers), that’s me, and the $100 or so I send them every year. Multiply that by 5,000,000 members or so and you see where the power comes from. If the NRA wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted it to do there would be no money. Besides the money, members also vote, right letters and contact politicians. That’s where the NRA gets its clout. Gun control groups on the other hand have limited membership (you can’t joint the Brady Campaign) and depend on a few wealthy individuals (the Joyce Foundation and George Soros) for their funding and then complain they don’t have enough money or votes. Finally, the issue of the 2nd Amendment has been settled, get over it. Navydan has said most of this and correctly so. I would add that Japan, while having almost no gun ownership, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
USMC Limey June 06, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Of course Japan has low incidence of firearm deaths, there are hardly any privately owned firearms there. Far more people die from bear attacks in Alaska than in New York City for the same reason.
navydan June 06, 2011 at 04:08 AM
You just made a common pro-gun control argument. That's why the above-stated fact about increased suicide in Japan, or the examples where there are no correlation between gun ownership and gun crime in various areas, helps frame the discussion in a broader context. Stating only your first sentence without other details would be a good point AGAINST the private ownership of firearms. Unless I'm interpreting your comment incorrectly, I don't think that's what you tried to convey.
USMC Limey June 06, 2011 at 11:28 AM
I Forgot to point out that it clearly has no effect on crime and suicide rates. Just because you remove a means, doesn't mean you prevented the death. The suicide rate proves that. People that want to kill each other or themselves will do it with whatever is handy. Alot of people survive gunshot wounds because the individual makes the assumption that shot once = dead. Which may be true in some cases. Many people shot with a .38 or a 9mm less than 3 times live.
Waterford Rez June 06, 2011 at 10:29 PM
That "article" isn't worth the time to even read. NAVYDAN made all my points. Funny how the NRA can raise the $$$ it needs via millions of average Americans who just want their rights protected. Notice how some groups (hint: liberals) always need tax $$$ and liberal judges to get their way...the same dope Smokin, bra burnin hippies from the 60s and 70s who screamed keep your laws off my body and out of my house are the same nuts running around now trying to control EVER PART of our lives. What a joke...
BHirsh June 06, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Stoopid.
John Kioti June 07, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Ah did ANYONE from this Connecticut gun grabbing group ever read the Connecticut state constitution? SEC. 15. EVERY CITIZEN has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. (emphasis mine). No controvery here at all. Every citizen. Yep, an individual right. Always has been. Always will be. Secondly, you whining twits don't seem to understand that the purpose of a constitution (state or federal) is not to grant rights or restrict the people in ANY WAY! The specific purpose is to RESTRAIN the GOVERNMENT and protect the rights of the people (all of them individually).
John Kioti June 07, 2011 at 02:21 AM
Oh almost forgot to ask... Can anyone tell me what an illegal gun is? Is it kind of like an illegal newspaper article?
Wildfire June 07, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Illegal guns, are just guns that do the needed jobs that legal guns don't want to do: Like protect minorities.
Tim Berntsen March 13, 2013 at 08:39 PM
If CAVG doesn't like being called gun grabbers, then they should disband, because they are nothing but a bunch of opportunistic parasites who want to take away my right to defend myself from criminals and tyrants. During the revolutionary war, we had a name for people like them: the ENEMY. The US constitution gives no authority to the government to own personal arms that are superior to what I am allowed to own for my family's defense, and yet that is exactly what CAVG wants. Taking away the second amendment is the first step in annulling the entire bill of rights, which is what they want. They circle the corpses of children like vultures, salivating at the chance to further their agenda.

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