Gov. M. Jodi Rell, her two Democratic rivals and a cluster of Connecticut mayors today appeared before the television cameras to show that yes, they do indeed care about youth violence in our cities and yes, they want to do something about it. While Rell’s summit with the mayors reeked of gubernatorial politics from all sides (John DeStefano and Dannel Malloy have been criticizing Rell’s budget priorities on this front), Rell did discuss the prevalence of guns and seemed interested in a law requiring people to promptly report stolen firearms.Rell, flanked by Malloy (left) and East Hartford mayor Melody Currey (right). DeStefano appears behind Currey to the right.
That idea originated from within Hartford’s legislative delegation last year, but did not receive a vote in the Judiciary Committee. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez brought up the concept at today’s summit, Rell said, where close to 75 percent of the discussion focused on guns.Under last year’s bill, citizens must report stolen firearms within 72 hours of the theft, or face a $500 penalty. Anyone who intentionally does not report it faces a misdemeanor on the first offense, and a felony on the second.While shying from a call for “gun control,” the governor did seem interested in a reporting requirement.“I would like to see the language on that this year,” Rell said, though she cautioned that many guns on the street are unregistered and do not fall into the category of ‘lost’ or ‘stolen.‘The issue involves removing a criminal defense from people who try to get off by falsely claiming they lost their guns, Malloy added.“What we want to do is cut that line of retreat off,” Malloy said. DeStefano also supports this measure.Both Malloy and DeStefano have criticized Rell for failing to fund prevention and for not investing in youth programs, like summer employment opportunities, which keep kids off the street. Malloy specifically brought up the state’s 71,000 uninsured children as evidence that the state does not invest in healthy kids, which in part leads to violence. DeStefano called for more funding to help young, unemployed fathers find work, the better to ensure a two-parent household.Rell indicated she would be open to discussing her budget choices as the session progresses.