Editorial: A demonstration of resolve in Newtown

Jennifer Masone, of Weston, listens to a speech at a rally for action held Friday evening in front of Edmond Town Hall on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. June 3, 2022, Newtown, Conn.

Jennifer Masone, of Weston, listens to a speech at a rally for action held Friday evening in front of Edmond Town Hall on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. June 3, 2022, Newtown, Conn.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Thumbs up to the hundreds of people who turned out in Newtown Friday night for a march and rally to end gun violence. The event was held to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and took place in the wake of the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Such reminders of the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy of Dec. 14, 2012 can’t be easy for many of the people in the crowd, but the demonstration was also an illustration of their resolve to help bring change to the nation.

Thumbs down to new data that suggests Connecticut has been hit even harder by COVID-19 than previously believed. Officially, the state has documented 10,972 COVID-19 deaths since March of 2020. But comparing recorded deaths with what is typical during a non-crisis time period also capture fatalities that could be an indirect result of the pandemic. Such statistics are not perfect, but there is a considerable gap between the 2,254 COVID-19 deaths documented in the first two months of the pandemic compared with the 2,900 “excess mortality” cases estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that March and April. Sadly, COVID’s true death toll will never be known.

Thumbs down to the municipalities in Connecticut — which totals more than half of them — that failed to meet the June 1 deadline to file affordable housing plans. Given the passionate public discourse about the issue in recent years, it’s not as if any town official can claim to have been unaware of the issue. Many probably held hopes the matter would be forgotten, akin to a middle-schooler seeking escape from a homework assignment. That there is no mechanism to enforce the law is a reminder that there should be. About 20 percent of the towns at least acknowledged they were working toward completion of a plans. But that still leaves 30 percent of Connecticut in non-compliance.

Thumbs up to continuing talks on new gun laws in Congress, which U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy says are gaining ground. Murphy said Sunday that he believed that Congress may enact what he called “meaningful” change, including red flag laws that could temporarily limit gun access for people who may misuse them. “I've never been part of negotiations as serious as these,” Murphy said. “There are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws and investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook.” It’s a high hill to climb to get new laws through the Senate, but if the aftermath of a tragedy like Uvalde doesn’t lead to movement, it’s hard to know what would.

Thumbs up to increased access to absentee ballots. Connecticut is famously behind much of the rest of the country in its voting laws, but they have loosened up considerably since the COVID pandemic started. Many people have used the newfound freedom to vote from home, which previously was available only to people who were physically unable to get to the polls or out of town on Election Day. Thanks to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s efforts, the wider use of absentee ballots is likely to continue. It’s up to voters to decide whether or not they are able to get to the polls, Merrill said last week, in a move that gives increased deference to voting from home. It’s yet another welcome modernization for the state.