Firearm deaths in the United State occur at 10 times higher rate than in countries with similar socioeconomic profiles, according to data compiled in 2019 by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Fortunately, firearms deaths in Connecticut are fewer than in most other states, because of our favorable gun safety laws. Even so, in 2017, guns were involved in the deaths of 188 men, women and children in Connecticut.
Our state legislators think we can do more to stop gun violence in Connecticut. State Representative Aimee-Berger Girvalo and State Senator Will Haskell are co-sponsors of SB-477/HB-5397, An Act Declaring Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis and Establishing The Office of Gun Violence Prevention. On Monday, March 28, 2022, the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly conducted a public hearing on this bill. On March 30th, it was successfully passed onward for consideration by the full legislature.
SB-477/HB-5397 is the kind of wholly non-infringing, common sense, gun violence prevention action that grassroots majorities of all political parties support, because it does not impose any new restrictions on the sale, purchase, possession, ownership or use of any firearms or ammunition.
Rather, this bill declares gun violence a public health crisis and establishes two new entities: an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the CT Department of Public Health and a separate, community-based Advisory Council on Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention to inform the state agency’s work.
Through this legislation, which proposes $5 million in funding for 2023, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention will work with the community-based Advisory Council to:
- Establish and administer a grant program to fund organizations that conduct evidence-informed initiatives to reduce gun violence without contributing to mass incarceration.
- Support initiatives that include prevention and intervention strategies as well as mental health and social services support for those at highest risk of being victims, or perpetrators, of gun violence.
- Collect data on gun violence in Connecticut and make the data publicly available to researchers and others.
- Collaborate with researchers to enhance evidence-based gun violence prevention solutions.
- Make policy recommendations to decrease the effects of gun violence on public health.
Conscientious citizens of all parties and ideologies support these kinds of efforts to reduce gun violence. Ridgefield Democrats thank Representative Berger-Girvalo and Senator Haskell for their leadership on this bill. We call upon their colleagues in both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly to expeditiously enact this bill into law without any dilution of its provisions.
The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.