Jeremy Stein, executive director of CCAG, speaks at UConn ARMS event. (Courtesy of CT-N) Credit: Courtesy of CT-N

Jeremy Stein, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said a news organization in Switzerland wanted to meet him at the Sandy Hook memorial to do a story on the 10-year remembrance of the Sandy Hook shooting.

“They didn’t want to meet me in Hartford or New Haven or Bridgeport,” Stein said Monday during a panel discussion. “Let’s be honest there hasn’t been much gun violence in Sandy Hook since so while it might be kind of the epicenter of mass shootings it’s certainly not the epicenter of gun violence.”

Hosted by the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy the panel discussed what has happened both nationally and in the state of Connecticut since that shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators.

Stein, just back from Washington D.C., where the “who’s who,” of mass shootings convened, said there were also people from urban areas who had lost not just one child, but multiple children to gun violence. 

“These shootings happen every day,” Stein said. “It is a public health crisis.” 

He said their mission is to take the attention paid to these mass shootings and redirect it to day-to-day gun violence. 

He said they are having a vigil on Dec. 14, but they are not having it in Newtown, they are having it in New Haven “because we want to make sure attention is being paid to those places where community violence is at its highest.” 

He said they want to honor those 26 people, but they want to make sure they’re paying attention and solving community violence. 

Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said she was at an event a few weeks ago with community providers who were talking about the type of work they do to try and prevent gun violence. 

“One of the gentlemen was telling us he’s on call and goes to the hospital three days a week,” Juthani said. “To deal with a victim of gun violence. Their family, who is devastated by what’s happened, the people in the community, and to try to ease the situation to prevent retaliation from happening. 

Juthani said this shouldn’t be happening anywhere. 

She said they have to recognize the racism that’s involved in this and if it’s not recognized upfront it undermines the real problem. 

She said Black men have a huge spike as victims of gun violence in their early 20s. White men experience gun violence in their 30s, 40s, and mostly in their 50s and “really it’s from suicide.” She said Black men suffer from homicide and white men from suicide. 

“This is an all of us problem,” Juthani said. “This is something we all have to deal with.” 

Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, said it’s something lawmakers have to think about when they are making these policies. 

“Paying attention to the numbers is really important and I think the red flag law is a great example of that,” Blumenthal said. “The vast majority of gun deaths are by suicide. They eclipse homicide deaths.” 

He said when the red flag law was passed in Connecticut after the Connecticut Lottery shooting it prevented mostly suicide deaths even though many felt it would deal with homicide deaths. 

“Today people far from those who experience this gun violence, in the ones and twos everyday have a deep and really emotional awareness and connection to the problem,” Blumenthal said. “Because they’re growing up being in lockdown drills wondering if it’s going to be their school next.”