In the wake of the Newtown massacre, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano declared Wednesday, America has a chance to tackle its epidemic of gun violence—if it moves beyond single mini-solutions.
He issued a call for a comprehensive approach that looks at three very different kinds of “carnage” plaguing the country: gangbangers shooting each other in cities; shooters involved in street robberies or domestic violence; and mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School and a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Each kind of carnage involves different kinds of weapon and different kinds of people, DeStefano noted. And they require different kinds of solutions.
“The nation has a chance” right now to make meaningful inroads into the broader problem of gun violence thanks to the outpouring of grief and calls for change in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, DeStefano said. Various parties have called for banning the sale of assault rifles, or limiting sales of ammunition, or boosting access to psychological care for troubled kids. (Click on the play arrow to the above video to watch highlights.)
DeStefano, who has called for a ban on sales of assault weapons and large-clip ammunition, pleaded Wednesday for the public and policymakers to consider the lives of the victims of all three kinds of gun carnage, and to think beyond any one solution.
“It’s not about assault rifles only,” the mayor argued. “Or about mental health only. Or about walking beats only.”
DeStefano made his remarks during a City Hall press conference on New Haven’s success this past year at beginning to reduce the number of shootings and homicides in town in part through increased neighborhood walking patrol sand a federal-state-city crackdown on gang violence.
He also timed the message with the start of the new session of Connecticut’s General Assembly. Gun-control and mental-health proposals are expected to dominate debate during this session.
Later Wednesday he participated in a conference call with Vice-President Joe Biden, who’s overseeing the Obama administration’s strategy on pushing gun-violence-related legislation. He’ll also be participating in talks about the issue with the National League of Cities (NLC) and U.S. Conference of Mayors at conferences in Washington, D.C.
Ever since the Dec. 14 tragedy in Newtown, DeStefano has emerged as a national voice in the debate over how to respond, appearing on National Public Radio, for instance, and issuing the NLCs’ response to an NRA press conference calling for stationing armed guards in all schools. (DeStefano wasn’t impressed with the NRA’s stance.)
“Any solution to gun violence needs to acknowledge there really are three kinds of gun violence we experience in America,” DeStefano said at Wednesday’s press conference. “By far the most common is what we see in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport” involving “overwhelmingly young black men” settling gang and drug disputes with “small handguns, not rifles.
“The second results from armed robberies, domestic violence, street disputes.
“All are tragedies. They all require our attention. Each will require a different kind of intervention if we’re truly interested in ending carnage.”