At his town hall meeting last week, State Senator L. Scott Frantz told a large gathering of constituents that he could not reveal his position on common sense gun regulations. He claimed the General Assembly’s Gun Violence Prevention working group on which he serves was under a self-imposed gag order so that they could reach a “historic” bipartisan agreement.
After that buildup, it came as a surprise that the very next day the task force released separate Democratic and Republican proposals. Although there are areas of agreement, the Republican proposal is less comprehensive and leaves out key provisions that would help reduce the death toll from gun violence, including an expanded definition of assault weapons and limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines.
More disturbing than Sen. Frantz’s silence is that he and his Republican colleagues are so out of touch with their constituents. A Quinnipiac University poll found overwhelming support for both tighter regulation of assault weapons and limiting magazines to ten bullets, by margins of more than 2:1. By an even greater margin, nearly 3:1, voters support handgun registration with annual renewal.
Sen. Frantz is also out of touch with constitutional law, judging by his town hall statement that “whatever comes out of the General Assembly and is signed by the governor will withstand some serious constitutional challenges.” Apparently three months studying the issue was not sufficient to make him aware that Justice Scalia’s District of Columbia v. Heller opinion states “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." Pertaining to assault weapons bans, the Supreme Court goes on to say "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on...laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
Neither does the Second Amendment pose problems for limiting magazine capacity. The New York Times reported that "Constitutional lawyers, including many conservatives, generally believe that limiting magazine size falls well within the boundaries of recent Supreme Court decisions on gun rights…" Had limits on magazine capacity been in place, we would likely have seen reduced death tolls at the Newtown, Tucson and Aurora massacres.
It is time for legislators to stop affording deference to the constitutional rights of gun owners without similarly recognizing the "unalienable right" of all Americans to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" which is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.
On the positive side, in correspondence to individual constituents, Sen. Frantz has described himself as “a person who believes in reasonable gun control.” Now that the cone of silence has been lifted, it is time for Sen. Frantz and the rest of the Greenwich state delegation to demonstrate leadership and actively speak out in favor of common sense gun regulations. With their support, Connecticut has a unique opportunity and the moral authority to show the country a united, bi-partisan front in the quest to reduce gun violence.
Let’s show Sen. Frantz and Reps. Camillo, Floren and Walko that the Quinnipiac poll holds true in Greenwich. Let’s urge them to support comprehensive gun regulation (contact information for legislators can be found at the CT Against Gun Violence website, www.cagv.org). The death toll climbs every day, the time to act is now.
Postscript: Sen. Frantz, while introducing multiple amendments to carve out restrictions on tighter regulation of firearms (which all failed), when on to vote for the tough package of gun violence prevention measures passed by the Conn. General Assembly. Thank you Sen. Frantz.