A gun violence resolution was passed unanimously by the West Hartford Town Council on Tuesday.
[Editor’s Note: The wording of the resolution passed by the Town Council on Aug. 13 has been clarified from an earlier version of this story.]
By Lauren Cohen and Zoe Pierce
During Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, a gun violence resolution introduced by Mayor Shari Cantor was passed unanimously by all members present at the meeting.
The resolution called for changes to gun policy on a federal level, and for Congress to adopt comprehensive gun reform and put more research into gun violence prevention in the United States.
The resolution states that the “Town Council of West Hartford calls on the United States Congress to immediately reconvene in order to fund federal research on gun violence prevention and to adopt comprehensive gun reform, including universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity assault weapons, a federal ‘red flag’ law allowing police to confiscate firearms from people who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or to others, and a federal registry for dangerous weapon offenders.“
Each member of the Council spoke on the matter, and came to the same fundamental agreement that action needs to be taken to prevent gun violence in the United States.
Many members shared the ways in which the looming threat of gun violence and mass shootings has affected their own personal and political lives.
As Democratic councilman Liam Sweeney put it, they “need to continue to put the pressure on Washington.” because “this is what we were elected to do.”
Although all members of the council supported the passing of the resolution, there were grievances from certain officials regarding the way the document was formed.
“The resolution was drafted with no input or meeting, discussion or collaboration from the republicans, and that did make gun safety a partisan democratic issue,” said Republican Mary Fay. “I wish that we could have come together to draft this and all have our fingerprints on it.”
Many of the council members repeated the sentiment that this is not a partisan issue, but a human issue. Co-sponsor of the resolution, Democrat Leon Davidoff said that gun violence “is not about partisan politics,” but about the communities we live in and the places we visit.
Davidoff spoke of the expectation that we share each time we go out that “we will return safe and sound,” but with the amount of gun violence currently present in the United States, “this expectation is a lot less certain.”
Republican Council member Chris Williams read off a list of many of the major mass shootings that have occurred in the United States since 1998, beginning with the shooting at the Connecticut Lottery that is mentioned in Mayor Cantor’s resolution.
Williams remarked that he believes both parties are responsible for the lack of recent gun regulation on the federal level.
“Our leaders, I think both parties have created this and enabled this,” said Williams. “Both parties have governed during this horror,” and it still has not been fixed.
“Our culture owns this, our culture created this,” said Williams. All Council members agreed that federal changes need to be made.
“Effects of gun violence are hyper-local, and yet the solution to the problem has to be national,” said Democratic Council member Dallas Dodge. Fay agreed, calling on Congress to act because even with Connecticut’s strong gun laws, nothing will change unless policy at the federal level does.
All agreed that federal changes will occur when gun violence shifts from a partisan issue to a bipartisan issue.
Because of this, Democrat Ben Wenograd said he was “really pleased that we are going to be able to pass this resolution unanimously and in a bipartisan fashion,” because “right now the people in Congress who need to hear this are primarily Republicans, and it’s really important that they hear” that Republicans in this town agreed to this resolution.
Cantor, agreeing, said “this [new resolution] is a start, not a finish … [a] springboard to the next step”.
Fay summed it up best when she said that as a Council, they are all “committed and passionate” about finding a federal solution to gun violence.
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