By Rebecca Hyland
Like many, I spent May 24 crying, dispensing kisses and extra tight hugs between tears. My husband and I were disappointed our son Henry didn’t ask to sleep in our bed that night. But my tears won’t bring back the 21 lives savagely ended by a gunman in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, nor the one killed in a Laguna Woods, California, church, nor the 10 slaughtered at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store. As I write, there have been 33 mass shootings since Uvalde, and likely more by the time you read this.
Our tears won’t heal the families ripped apart, nor stop the next attack, nor end the daily onslaught of terror caused by gun violence. Only gun safety can do that, and we have a moral imperative to take action.
Sure, guns don’t kill people; people kill people. But I’ll tell you what, a person in body armor holding an AR-15 is able to deliver more carnage than with a knife. Guns are the common denominator for the 12 children who die every day from gun violence, the 2,032 school shootings since 1970 (948 since Sandy Hook), and the almost 300,000 students traumatized since 1999 by being present during a school shooting, as well as the 246 mass shootings that have occurred in the first 157 days of 2022.
Connecticut has some of the strictest gun safety laws in the country. Let’s keep moving in the right direction. This past week, as gun safety issues became a hot topic, a concerning audio tape from 2018 was released. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski clearly states, “I will veto any legislation that makes it tougher on gun owners.”
The risk of going backward is real. This year, Connecticut General Assembly Republicans were able to stall additional safety measures, including expanding the ban on assault weapons, requiring trigger locks on all sold firearms, limiting bulk purchases, and requiring registration of ghost guns. Pro-gun legislators led by Craig Fishbein tried to push through a version of a stand-your-ground law. These laws were spotlighted in 2012 when George Zimmerman was acquitted after killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old in Florida.
In 2019, my opponent, Craig Fishbein, voted against the bipartisan-backed “Ethan’s Law,” which requires firearms in a home be securely stored, whether loaded or not. Before his election to the General Assembly, he wrote to legislators urging them not to pass the sweeping bipartisan-backed gun safety measures created following the Sandy Hook massacre. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, in March 2022, touted Fishbein as a 2nd Amendment champion and legislator of the year. The risks of losing ground on gun safety are real and the voters have a right to know.
In addition to protecting our existing gun safety laws, we need to pass the measures proposed this past legislative session. I would also strengthen relinquishment laws, require new handgun models sold to include microstamping technology, prohibit gun possession by convicted stalkers and fugitives, and institute waiting periods before gun buyers complete a purchase.
Connecticut’s recent budget includes increased funding for gun violence prevention programs, which have proved to help reduce gun violence. Strong community leadership also helps. I will work with local leadership supporting these efforts and serve as a strong advocate to eliminate gun violence. I have no interest in accolades from the gun lobby, unlike my opponent.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative we show up at the polls on Nov. 8. If we’ve learned nothing else, we know too many politicians are willing to sacrifice our lives to pad their pockets with gun money. On Nov. 8, show up and demand federal and state legislative action. With your votes, Democrats can build their majority and gain the senators needed to end the filibuster. Then, action instead of tears.
Democrat Rebecca Hyland is a candidate for the 90th House District. Her candidacy can be followed in social media @hylandfor90th and her website, www.RebeccaHyland.com.
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