The executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence told supporters Tuesday that their pro-gun opposition wants to send a message to lawmakers who voted in favor of stricter gun laws.
“Put them on the unemployment line is what they say,” Ron Pinciaro, executive director of CAGV, said Tuesday. “We will not let that happen.”
He told the 85 people who attended a lunch at the Pond House in West Hartford that they are the “silent majority” awakened by the tragedy in Newtown, but they can’t be silent anymore.
Pinciaro said the group has 50,000 members across the state and they all need to bring a friend and get out and vote on Nov. 4.
“Our opposition says that they’re approaching 15,000 members,” Pinciaro said referring to the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. “ We have triple that. But you know what? The one thing they know how to do is show up.”
Pinciaro warned the group that “if the perception is people have lost their seat because their vote on the gun safety bill you can bet it will probably be another decade before we can again pass significant gun safety legislation.”
Gun control is an issue that has divided Connecticut voters. A Quinnipiac University poll released in May suggested that 56 percent of voters support the 2013 law with 38 percent opposed.
Officials and members of “CT Voters for Gun Safety,” a political action committee formed to help candidates who supported the legislation, will meet in Middletown Saturday to learn more about how to organize and get out the vote. At that meeting they will also endorse a gubernatorial candidate and it’s more than likely to be Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who signed the 2013 bill into law.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which opposed the 2013 legislation, has endorsed Republican Tom Foley.
The CCDL used video of Sen. Donald Williams from Tuesday’s Connecticut Against Gun Violence event as a way to motivate their own members.
“Watch the video, and listen to what the anti’s really think and say about your constitutional rights, and what their plans for the future are,” a CCDL official wrote in a blog post.
The post goes onto say, “If Malloy and his anti-Constitution cronies get re-elected after passing one of the worst gun laws in the country, they will know they have free reign to go as far as they want with no repercussions.”
During his speech Tuesday, Williams, who voted against an assault weapons ban in 1993 but in favor of the 2013 bill, opined that when gun owners know facts they support gun safety and gun violence prevention legislation. But he also acknowledged the challenge groups like Connecticut Against Gun Violence face.
“You’ve heard them on radio talk shows and elsewhere [say] ‘that gun legislation that the state of Connecticut passed would not have done a single thing to have prevented the tragedy at Sandy Hook’,” Williams said. “Has everybody heard that said by folks? They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
He said he worked with Democrats and Republicans to craft that legislation.
“I know what’s in that bill and I know they have not read it,” William said. “If this legislation had been in effect there’s a chance, not a guarantee, there’s a chance there would have been a deeper understanding of this young man’s issues and intervention at that time and a possible different path.”
Williams was referring to the 20-year-old gunman who took his own life after killing 20 children and six educators. Williams said the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines may also have prevented the extent of the tragedy because would not have been allowed to be purchased by the gunman’s mother.
“The truth of the matter is virtually everything in that bill could have changed the outcome of that tragic day,” Williams said. “So when you hear someone say there was nothing there that makes a difference they haven’t read the bill. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said the group needs to organize to “keep this issue in the limelight.”
She said the fight doesn’t get easier. She said there was the raw “emotion and openness to change” following the tragedy in Newtown and then “people get on with their lives.”
She said people may have gotten complacent and the “other side has very powerful corporate interests” backing them.
One of the other “motivating factors” for the pro-gun rights advocates is that they “they use fear so effectively,” Bye said.
“After you sit through a 17 hour public hearing, when person-after-person tells you they’re convinced that they need a submachine gun to protect their home, you leave with great sympathy for people who walk around with that much fear,” Bye said.