You knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time. Doesn’t matter that we weren’t the first state to rush to pass gun control laws, as long as we’re the one with the best laws. And having the best laws means having the toughest laws and having the toughest laws not only means heavy regulation but also By-God-We’re-Going-To-Punish-The-Hell-Out-Of-You.
And so here we are. Along with bans on high capacity magazines and universal background checks, we also have “the nation’s first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry”. An idea that Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney has proposed before (here‘s a 2011 Courant article on that proposal), the registry requires that:
[I]ndividuals must register with DESPP if they have been convicted of any of more than 40 enumerated weapons offenses (mostly gun offenses) or another felony that the court makes a finding involved the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon.
Individuals must register with DESPP for a total of five years after their release into the community. During that time they must keep their registration address current at all times, and they must check in once per year, on the anniversary of their release, with local law enforcement in the town where they currently reside. Unlike Megan’s List, this registry will not be public. Instead, it will be available to law enforcement only.
In addition, this mega compromise super-awesome-best-in-the-world-bill naturally also “significantly increases penalties for many firearms trafficking and illegal possession offenses.” Of course it does.
These provisions will do nothing to stop another Adam Lanza. These provisions won’t affect James Holmes.
What they will do is further oppress an already oppressed segment of society. Now poor black and Hispanic defendants will have two more procedural hurdles to jump through and more opportunities to commit crimes.
So why not just take everyone who’s committed a crime and make them register somewhere with some agency. And we’ll make them undergo some rigorous testing when they’re released, so we can probe them and see if they’re doing the right thing. Maybe we can call it, hmm, let’s see, probe…probate…probation! Yes. Probation. And when they’re on probation they have to report to an officer of some sort. Someone who keeps tabs on them. Let’s see. What shall we call this Officer of Probation? Okay, nevermind, we can come back to that.
What’s that? We do that already? Oh. But what’s one more registration requirement, right? I mean, all of our other registries are working so wel-oh, wait.
Also included in the bill are a bunch of mental health provisions. Because now apparently the mantra is that people don’t kill people, but mentally ill people use guns to kill people. Whatever.
If you accept that flawed premise as the root cause of all gun-related evil (as has been bandied about by many since the mass shootings of the past few years); that these are mentally ill people who are committing crimes and of course no sane law abiding citizen would ever use a gun in an unlawful manner (of course they wouldn’t; once they do they aren’t law abiding anymore), then the question becomes, what to do with those that are mentally ill and thus predisposed to crime? Or are criminals mentally ill because only mentally ill people commit crimes with guns? And if we have such a large gun problem, that means that there are many people who are mentally ill, correct?
The truth, of course, is that some mentally ill people commit crimes, some sane people commit crimes, some mentally ill people don’t commit crimes and some sane people don’t commit crimes. What’s also true is that our prisons are filled with people who did commit crimes because they are mentally ill and there are zero options available to treat and assist them and prevent them from re-offending. Putting them on a fucking list isn’t going to solve anything.
So what’s plainly missing from these “mental health provisions” is any mention of mental illness among the prison population and the taking of any steps to address that huge neglected problem. At least a quarter of all inmates have mental illnesses and in a society where there are fewer and fewer resources being assigned to diagnose and treat those mental illnesses, any bill that proposes to make mental health reforms but doesn’t so much as mention the incarcerated population (in a bill that is all about criminals and criminalizing conduct, no less, wtf, is this crazy season?) is a joke.
WAIT. It’s April Fool’s Day today, right? That’s got to be it. That’s the only explanation. Whew. Good one, Connecticut legislature.