Opinion: More work lies ahead to end gun violence

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school tragedy, Connecticut enacted some of the strongest gun regulations in the country. And thankfully, they’ve worked.

Connecticut’s smart laws have saved lives, and we’re proud that our state now sees the fifth lowest rate of gun deaths in the country. Over the last four years, the legislature has banned ghost guns, required the safe storage of firearms inside homes and cars and modernized Red Flag laws to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Experts say we have the third strongest gun laws in the nation.

But we both know that more work lies ahead. In 2019, Connecticut saw 181 firearm deaths. We believe that’s 181 too many. In addition to the incalculable cost borne by those directly affected, gun violence costs Connecticut an estimated $1.2 billion every year.

As we meet folks around Ridgefield, too many students tell us that they can’t focus in school because they’re worried about a shooter coming into their classroom. Too many parents tell us that they have a pit in their stomach when their child climbs the stairs of the school bus, and they quietly pray that their kid will come home safe that afternoon. Our communities deserve better. It’s time for Connecticut to follow the lead of New Jersey and Maryland by banning the bulk purchase of firearms. And we must stand strong against new lawsuits brought by the National Association for Gun Rights to repeal Connecticut’s laws. In light of the Supreme Court’s rightward-turn, we know state legislatures are the last line of defense to keep our community safe. The upcoming election couldn't be more important.

This November, voters will decide whether Connecticut should move forwards or backwards. Let’s elect leaders who will always support strong gun laws and never shy away from this issue.

A few years ago, when Toni Boucher was running for Governor, she announced that Connecticut had gone “too far” in regulating guns after Sandy Hook. We believe Connecticut has not gone far enough. From allowing firearms in some state parks (HB 5539) to deregulating ammunition (SB 118), Boucher’s record on gun regulations is out of sync with Connecticut’s values.

We can’t afford to elect leaders who equivocate or backtrack. Will has spent the last four years in the state Senate, sponsoring and passing bills to end gun violence. As the former executive director of Sandy Hook Promise, Ceci has put this work at the forefront of her platform. Let’s continue building on Connecticut’s progress by electing Ceci Maher to be 26th District’s next state Senator.

Will Haskell represents the 26th District in the state Senate. Ceci Maher, a Democrat, is running to replace Haskell in the 26th District, which now includes Wilton, Westport, Weston, Redding, and parts of Ridgefield, Darien, New Canaan and Stamford.