Learning about guns strengthens desire for legislation

The topic of gun legislation has engendered much debate, but as of yet, no new regulations.

Believing accurate information is key, Lori Kaine of the Wilton League of Women Voters took matters into her own hands — literally. Ms. Kaine was part of a group of league members that visited the Greenwich Police Department earlier this month to learn more about guns of all types.

The visitors were educated about a variety of firearms, from pistols to assault weapons. They also learned exactly the danger each gun presents, and the damage that can be done.

“I learned a lot,” Ms. Kaine said. “I learned that the longer the barrel of a gun, the more accurate the shot. The grooves in the barrel make the bullet spin; the more spin the better the aim. Kind of like when a football is thrown.

“I learned that fully automatic guns and silencers can be privately owned but have extremely strict guidelines and background checks,” she continued. “People who meet the restrictions and pass the background checks to own one of these weapons also agree to possible arbitrary gun checks.”

The most jarring part of the visit was when Ms. Kaine was allowed to fire an AR-15, considered by many to be a dangerous assault weapon, although that terminology is not entirely true. The models of AR-15s that are currently available do not have specific features that define them as assault weapons. It is the base model of the military-style weapon. However it is defined, it can still be dangerous.

“It took me back, physically and emotionally,” said Ms. Kaine. “I do believe people have the right to own guns for one reason or another. But the power of the gun and the way it can fire so rapidly, it was hard to not associate people with it. For me, it was emotional.”

Ms. Kaine said the education did not end there. For instance, she was told that, while hunting, gun owners may possess only five clips of ammunition.

According to a statement issued by the group, “the League of Women Voters first adopted a position on gun laws in 1990 and began urging Congress to control the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons.

“The LWV position also supports licensing/permitting procedures for gun ownership to include background checks, gun safety education and periodic renewals. In Connecticut, LWVCT has supported strong measures to protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. LWVCT advocated for Connecticut’s 1994 assault weapons ban, the 2007 law mandating the reporting of a theft or loss of a firearm, and offered testimony in 2011 supporting a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines.”

The League of Women Voters supports universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers in Connecticut, as well as banning the possession and transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines carrying more than seven rounds. Additionally, the league looks to strengthen Connecticut’s assault weapons ban.

“Most people — rational people — want some kind of gun legislation,” Ms. Kaine stressed. “All of the statistics indicate that those who have dangerous assault weapons will be involved in some type of violence.”

She was part of the March for Change in Hartford the day before visiting Greenwich and enjoyed being among people with similar feelings. Her visit to Greenwich had a strong impact on her.

“The experience reinforced my belief that we need gun legislation.”