Why I Voted “No”

April 5, 2013

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, Connecticut legislators faced the daunting task of passing laws which respond to that horrible tragedy and which make our communities safer.

My focus has been on what can be done to prevent what happened in Newtown from ever happening again.

My wife, who is a clinical psychologist, was assigned to help the victims in Newtown on December 14. She has provided counseling and support to children, teachers, families and first responders during the weeks and months that have followed that tragic day.

I educated myself on the issues of gun control, mental health and school security. I took an open-minded approach, holding several meetings in communities throughout my district and listening closely to the viewpoints of area residents before reaching a decision.

One of the products of those meetings is a bill I have written. One of the towns I represent is Southbury, and I have worked closely with Southbury first responders to craft a bill which aims to improve the emergency response from neighboring towns during active shooter incidents. That bill is currently making its way through the legislative process, and I believe it could one day save lives.

One of the main things I have learned is that in Connecticut, we need to do a better job of enforcing the laws we currently have. Many crimes are committed by people who do bad things and who are bad people. The crimes are not committed by law-abiding citizens who simply want to better protect their families and protect their rights.

I was proud to serve on the bipartisan task force which addressed flaws in our mental health system. We heard hours and hours of testimony, yet in the final bill that was created, we created a task force to study the issue. I was disappointed in that product. I felt we did not adequately tackle the problem of mental health in our society. We need to be funding more mental health programs in order to prevent individuals from falling through the cracks. Instead, we are looking to cut those programs.

In preparing to vote, the last thing I wanted to do was to cast a vote which would give the people of my district a false sense of security. The thorough review of the bill before me led me to conclude that its passage would not have prevented future Newtowns, future Columbines, or future Virginia Techs.

I voted “no”. I voted “no” because I feel we need to be looking at society as a whole. Unfortunately, the bill before me did not do that.

As your state legislator, my job is to listen to all sides and then use my best judgment to vote one way or another on every bill. I have taken my response to Newtown very seriously in trying to find effective, workable solutions. Our prayers will continue to go out to the families of the Sandy Hook victims.

Going forward, I will continue to do my best to do right by them to make our communities as safe as they can possibly be from gun violence and from those who have violent tendencies with intent to harm.