Opinion: Sen. Linares Explains Why He Voted Against Gun Bill

ArtLinares2013Editor’s Note: Last week, Gov. Malloy signed a sweeping and historic gun bill in response to the shooting in Newtown last December. The only Latino to vote against the bill was Sen. Art Linares. CTLatino.com asked Linares to share his perspective on why he voted against it.
By Senator Art Linares (R-33)
Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers, and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am now more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.
After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill.  While I support some of the individual elements, such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that Senate Bill 1160 An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety, did not correctly address the important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.
The final bill in no way prevents criminals and the mentally unstable from obtaining weapons in the ways they always have: by stealing them, purchasing them illegally, or purchasing them through a neighboring state. As I stated during the Senate debate, I believe this bill has missed a great opportunity to help those with mental disabilities before they hurt themselves or, even worse, someone else.
Many parents have brought to my attention the need to create a system that will better diagnose and treat mental health issues at an earlier stage. As a member of the Children’s Committee, I promise to work with our state’s mental health experts and begin a study on how we can create this kind of system.   I will be working to increase access to mental health resources and reduce the stigma families sometimes feel when asking for help. I am disappointed that Governor Malloy is proposing to cut funding to mental health services at a time when they are needed more than ever.
I will continue to fight for stricter enforcement of current laws, and making sure that those found guilty of violent crimes will serve out their sentences. Keeping repeat offenders in prison will help to keep our neighborhoods safe. Law-abiding citizens should not be held accountable for the actions of those who have and will continue to break the laws.
Now that SB 1160 has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.
I appreciate hearing from everyone in my district, and I hope that you will continue to contact me on any issues that concern you.
Sincerely,
Art Linares

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