by Katrina Koerting, Raga Justin
Connecticut Insider – June 12, 2022
Connecticut’s U.S. senators were among a bipartisan group of lawmakers Sunday announcing an agreement aimed at curbing gun violence in the nation.
“Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the group of 20 senators said in a statement. “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”
The proposal, touted as potentially the first significant federal gun legislation in decades, comes weeks after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
It also comes as some survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting spoke to ABC News for the first time about the traumatic event and its aftermath.
Maggie, a Sandy Hook student at the time of the shooting, told ABC’s Martha Raddatz she lost her best friend, 7-year-old Daniel Barton, in the attack.
“I was just thinking about all the families that are in their houses right now telling their children that their siblings and that their friends and their classmates are gone,” said Maggie, whom the network did not identify by last name. “And it just really broke me to know that after 10 years of everyone giving us their thoughts and prayers, after 10 years of everyone saying ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Never again’ after Sandy Hook — it happened again.”
Maggie said she stands with the children who survived the Uvalde shooting and that they are now forever linked together by their experiences.
“As devastating as it is that they now have this community of people who have endured a tragedy, they have a community of people who understand them,” she said. “And I hate that they do and I hate that now these little kids are part of our community, but we’re here for them in any way that they need.”
She and three other former classmates called for actionable legislation to prevent future school shootings.
Lawmakers are attempting just that in their proposal. One of the most notable items included in the agreement enhances checks for younger gun buyers, requiring an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records for potential buyers younger than 21. This includes checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
It also invests billions in mental health services and school safety, such as school resource officers, violence prevention programs and school safety training at schools.
The proposal includes measures to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting deadly weapons and protect victims of domestic violence. It also cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements, and illegally straw purchase and traffic guns.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the deal represents “potentially a major breakthrough” though it still falls short of the tougher measures he and other Democrats sought.
“We can build on it, and do more, if we’re able to pass a specific measure with these provisions,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said 10 GOP senators have signed on to the bill, enough to pass it through the Senate. But he is hopeful more Republican support will come.
“My Republican colleagues are hearing from their constituents, just as I am mine, repeated pleas for us to do something,” Blumenthal said. “I believe that they will have to respond to the overwhelming, urgent pleas of American people.”