By Kelly Breckenridge & Sylvia Steinert
Once again we’re facing the carnage of gun violence. Now there are new, devastating superlatives: two mass shootings within 13 hours that ended the lives of 31 innocent people and left dozens injured, some critically. The Dayton killer managed to end 9 lives within 30 seconds. Three mass shootings within 8 days. After we mourn and gain back some equilibrium, we must harness our anger and outrage to demand effective change. We cannot succumb to numbness in the face of normalization of gun violence in America.
Several generations of America’s children have known nothing of a time without mass shootings. State Senator Will Haskell, a champion for gun safety, wants to change that for the immediate future and for future generations. Will, who represents CT -26, which includes Ridgefield, made sensible gun laws central to his campaign. He has kept his promises.
During his first legislative session in 2019, Will, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, introduced three bills to strengthen gun safety: outlawing ghost guns, requiring presentation of a carry permit to law enforcement and a limit on multiple handgun purchases in a single transaction. Thanks to Sen. Haskell’s leadership, “ghost guns”, which are firearms without serial numbers leaving them untraceable and that can be assembled at home., are now prohibited. Gov. Lamont signed the bill, HB 7219, this past June.
“Ethan’s Law”, HB-7218, named for Ethan Song, the Guilford teen who accidentally killed himself while playing with the gun his friend’s father had left in a cardboard box, requires that gun owners store firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, in securely locked containers if a person under the age of 18 is likely to gain access to the weapon without permission. The legislation, which also addresses firearm safety in public schools, was co-sponsored by Sen. Haskell.
“I’m proud”, Sen. Haskell has said “to be a co-sponsor of bills that will begin to address the fear that students feel when they hear a loud noise in the hallway and worry about where to hide in the event that their school will be the site of the next tragedy.”
HB 7223, co-sponsored by Haskell, requiring that pistols and firearms in unattended motor vehicles be locked and secured, was also signed into law.
Recently, Will held one of his many Town Hall meetings with his Ridgefield constituents. While discussing his first session in the senate, Will was excited, enthusiastic and proud of what had been accomplished. He entered his first term with a long list of priorities he hoped to achieve. The experience taught him that to get the work of the people done, a representative must be willing to listen to his constituents, work across the aisle, compromise if needed, but never on fundamental principles.
We need voices like Will’s to speak out at a time when political rhetoric has become degraded, debased and divisive from the highest office in our land. Will is committed to reducing gun violence. He has not been distracted. He has kept his promises.
Kelly Breckenridge and Sylvia Steinert are residents of Ridgefield and members of the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee. The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.