April 3, 2013

Wright favors gun measure, Betts stands opposed

At least one of Bristol’s four lawmakers plans to vote for the bipartisan gun control measure before the General Assembly today.
Rep. Chris Wright
State Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, said he favors the proposal because he’s convinced it will bring down the number of gun deaths in Connecticut without intruding on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Another Bristol lawmaker, Republican Whit Betts, said he plans to vote against the bill. He said it would further reduce gun owne
rs’ rights. He said it doesn’t address the root cause of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings that left 20 students and six educators dead in Newtown on Dec. 14.
The other two legislators from Bristol, Democratic state Rep. Frank Nicastro and Republican state Sen. Jason Welch, haven’t yet said how they’ll vote. But both generally favor the positions of gun advocates.
State Rep. Whit Betts
Wright said he came to his position in part because of what he’s seen while working as a billing clerk in the St. Francis Hospital emergency room. He said he’s seen “so many people coming in after being shot” that the issue is personal for him.
He said he watched one day as a 20-year-old was pronounced dead. Another time, he said, he stood by as doctors told the mother of a 15-year-old that her son had died after being gunned down at the end of his driveway.
“It’s such a waste of life,” Wright said. “I’m tired of it and the people in my district that I hear from are tired of it.”
Betts said, “My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones as a result of the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook.  However, I don’t think this proposed legislation could ever prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy."
“Unfortunately, criminals and those wishing to do harm to others will find a way, regardless of what legislation is adopted,” he said. “I believe we should be putting a primary focus on addressing mental health, which is what I believe to be the root cause of the terribly shooting tragedies.”
Wright said he understands the measure agreed on by legislative leaders won’t bring an end to the gun violence. But, he said, “it will bring the numbers down. And I think that that is important.”
Betts said his constituents oppose the measure because they believe it curtails their constitutional right to bear arms.
Wright said he doesn’t believe there is a Second Amendment issue involved.
He said the provision in the Bill of Rights was designed to ensure the government had “an armed, trained militia” ready in case it had to put down rebellions, not to provide the people a right to arm themselves against the government itself, as so many believe nowadays.
He said many people have “a fundamental misunderstanding” of the nature of the Second Amendment.
Wright said the new provisions included in the measure “are not the most intrusive things in the world.”
Requiring a permit to purchase to buy ammunition is “a logical next step” that “makes it just a little bit harder for the criminal” to get hold of bullets. Those who have a permit already won’t have any trouble, he said.
“We’re not confiscating anything,” Wright said.
The only restriction is that gun owners won’t be able to buy more high capacity magazines in the future.
Wright also hailed the bill’s call for the creation of a dangerous offender registry in Connecticut to make it easier for police to know who isn’t supposed to possess a gun.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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