Ellen Delisio photo
Determined not only to maintain Connecticut’s status as home to some of the toughest gun laws in the nation but also to continue to promote gun safety, a new political action committee made its endorsements Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol.

CT Voters for Gun Safety endorsed all six constitutional officers, including Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Ron Pinciaro, chairman of CT Voters for Gun Safety, said Malloy earned their endorsement for his “leadership and courage” and his calls for action –and willingness to act—after the Sandy Hook shootings that left 20 children and six educators dead.

“No governor in the state’s history has shown as much courage in the area of gun safety,” Pinciaro said.

Spurred largely by the Sandy Hook tragedy, the state’s General Assembly in 2013 passed legislation to strengthen gun regulations, including prohibiting the possession or transfer of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Connecticut’s gun laws the second strongest in the nation behind California.

“Smart gun laws work,” Pinciaro said. “We want to keep Connecticut strong in terms of gun safety laws and want to keep things the way they are and improve them.”

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), a Second Amendment group which has endorsed Malloy’s Republican opponent Tom Foley, said he is not surprised by the groups’ position.

“We stand for liberty and individual rights. They stand for taking our liberty one chunk at a time,” Wilson said. “These are the people the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.”

Wilson’s group supported candidates who voted against or would vote against stricter gun laws.

CCDL opposes any efforts to expand regulations on firearms’ possession or sale, Wilson said. “The reason is, we feel we have all been punished for the acts of one individual who was bent on murder anyway,” he said. “This is not how a free society should operate.” 

Newtown activist Kate Mayer admitted that with so many reports of shootings in the media over the past several years, she had almost become immune to gun violence until the Sandy Hook tragedy. Now, she urges people to make their views known by voting for those who support gun safety laws.

“This is about making sure your voice is heard,” Mayer noted. “Voting counts.That is the only way gun safety will win. American apathy got us into this and American action with get us out of it. Don’t wait for a reason for gun safety to matter to you.”

Like many people, Jonathan Perloe, treasurer of the Brady Campaign’s Southwestern Connecticut Chapter, said he also became involved in the gun safety movement after Sandy Hook and wants to keep the momentum going.

“We know these laws work,” said Perloe. “We’re working hard to make sure legislators who support gun safety are elected and re-elected.”

Out of a total of 62 endorsements announced by the group Thursday, all but five are Democrats. Asked about if there’s a partisan divide on the gun issue, Pinciaro said he doesn’t believe it is a partisan issue.

The group’s endorsements were based on a number of factors, including positions candidates took with the media and their responses to a CT Voters for Gun Safety questionnaire. Far more Democrats voted for the 2013 gun safety legislation and responded to the questionnaire than did Republican legislators, he added.

Voters have to keep the pressure on lawmakers and make their support for gun safety legislation known, Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, said.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a vote,” Murray added.   

The day of the Sandy Hook shooting was the day many who support the political action committee became “single-issue voters,” Murray said.

“We are in it to win it,” she continued. “The corporate gun lobby is strong but we are stronger.”