Shaken by the shooting deaths of a 3-year-old and a 16-year-old in Hartford's north end, lawmakers from across the state are calling for more resources to prevent future gun violence.
“I could just envision myself walking up to a casket this big for a 3-year-old. It’s not supposed to happen,” Leonard Jahad of Connecticut Violence Intervention Program in New Haven said.
Jahad said he traveled to Hartford for a vigil for 3-year-old Randell Jones this week because the state can’t work in silos. Violence has been happening across the state.
Chief Medical Examiner James Gill testified that homicides jumped 30% in 2020 when compared to 2019.
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“I’m asking government to move out of the way and allow these people to collectively to do the work that needs to be done,” Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) said.
Moore said she wants to see the money go to community nonprofits and not the police or government agencies.
“What we are seeing in our cities is a slow banal, mass killing and this state is doing almost nothing about it,” Sen. Gary Winfield said.
Winfield said it’s not just about more gun laws.
“If we want to fix the things that we see we have to first admit that policy has built us to this place,” he said.
He said the community nonprofits who prevent violence well are not resourced enough.
“I know for a fact that you can get to these young people. I know for a fact that you can show them a different way,” Winfield added.
“I’m tired of putting a Bandaid on the wound,” Harold Dimbo of Project Longevity said.
He said the cycle continues to repeat itself.
“They get arrested, they go to jail, they come home. They have no jobs, it’s hard to get jobs, they go back into the system,” Dimbo said.
“When Connecticut wants to change things we do it,” Sen. Doug McCrory (D-Hartford) said.
McCrory said the legislature found a way to change gun laws in 2013 following the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“We saw what happened after we had crumbling foundations. We found a funding stream, “McCrory said.
Lawmakers say that want to increase funding for community nonprofits to do this work, but they don’t know where it will come from.
“We don’t know what the total dollar amount is,” Moore said.
She said they do know that President Biden has set aside $5 billion for community-based violence prevention.
“We want to make sure that when that money comes here it’s not nickeled and dimed,” Moore said.