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Lamont On Guns, Crime And Punishment

July 24, 2022
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There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning – Abbie Hoffman

Governor Ned Lamont sat down with Hearst Media in mid-July and bared his breast.

“Lamont said,” Hearst reported, “that he is running not only to defend the state’s existing [gun] laws, but to propose a new range of regulations on so-called ghost guns, assault weapons and the carrying of firearms in public.”

The problem with laws is that any single law extended infinitely in one direction sooner or later bumps up against another countervailing law. The most efficient way to end gun violence, for instance, would be to end legal gun possession, but the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes that prospect forbiddingly unlikely.

Of course, it is always theoretically possible to repeal the Second Amendment , regarded by the founders of the country as the palladium of liberty. At the time the Bill of Rights was adopted, the most highly regarded lawyer of the day, Judge St. George Tucker, then Judge of the General Court of Virginia and later appointed by President James Madison as U.S. District Judge for Virginia, proclaimed the Second Amendment to be “the palladium of liberty,” because the Second Amendment secured a natural right of defense upon which all the other imprescriptible rights in the Bill of Rights depend.

Stringent gun reforms, most dispassionate observers will allow, have done little to reduce incidents of gun crimes in many of Connecticut’s larger cities.

One begins to wonder if perhaps condign punishment, regarded for centuries as a deterrent to violent crime, might be more efficacious than unlikely gun reforms in deterring the use of guns in the commission of violent crimes in urban areas by – surely this will not surprise – criminals with prior records. In most large cities, both in Connecticut and across the nation, justice agencies know who the criminals likely to commit serious crimes are.

During an “exclusive interview” with Lamont, the reporter had the presence of mind to query the governor on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down New York’s pistol permit law. Lamont responded that “the ruling signaled a shift in the court’s approach to the [Second] Amendment that could threaten Connecticut’s existing gun regulations.” There has been no shift, none at all, in what one might call the mind of the High Court on Second Amendment rights; indeed, the Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in its Second Amendment rulings.

Sounding a bit like 60’s radical Abby Hoffman, Lamont responded, “I mean, you don’t necessarily want to pass a law that’s immediately taken to the courts. But maybe I don’t care. Maybe I just want to give it a go and challenge the system.”

Politicians on the campaign trail do tend to shift and dodge. But Lamont’s yea and nay on the same point follow each other so rapidly that one begins to suspect the governor’s views on an established Second Amendment right, unlike the views of Tucker and the High Court, are infinitely flexible because they are not tempered by firm principles. What is laid down as a sound principle in the first instance is swiftly undone by an opposing, politically populist notion in the second instant.

You cannot reduce gun crimes by restricting Constitutional gun ownership rights. Criminals are not scrupulous in observing laws passed by Connecticut’s General Assembly. Their behavior might possibly be altered by laws preserving the public peace that are ENFORCEDfor laws without force are empty vessels. And we – criminals included – know that the enforcement of laws cannot occur in the absence of a legislative insistence that punishment DETERS criminal activity. No chronic bill producers in Connecticut should any longer affect surprise that it is the enforcement of laws, not their mere presence in the self-congratulatory bios of ambitious politicians, that deters crime.

On his route from 60’s revolutionist to pro-police supporter, Lamont managed to quote former President Ronald Reagan: “Crime is so politicized; I just thought having a strong bipartisan vote of support for the cops, criminal justice, judicial, and the wraparound services was worth it. Like Reagan said, I’ll come back and fight another day for the other stuff.”

On the other hand: “If your only answer to guns is to put steel walls and steel doors in front of your libraries and churches and schools, you’ve lost the battle. Public safety has got to be a core fundamental right; people are playing games with it now.”

The careful reader will note the service done by the word “only” in that sentiment. One positive reaction to mass slaughter in schools such as Sandy Hook has been to provide well trained mass murder interrupters, not necessarily teachers, to serve as breakwaters in schools and, in addition, to lock down schools quickly without installing steel doors.

Reagan would have approved of such measures, because he was a genuine peace and order chief executive, unlike some governors who place their faith in the usual untried post-progressive nostrums of the day, such as – bail bond elimination immediately after criminals are arraigned in court, and bills that presumptively eliminate crimes by eliminating laws punishing crimes. The easiest way to reduce crime statistics in Connecticut is to redefine some crimes out of existence.

But the easiest way to deter crime, especially for those who do not want to play “political games” in order to garner votes, is to assign to crimes just punishments and then ENFORCE the punishments.

Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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