10 months, 2 weeks ago
After the draconian gun laws that the Connecticut Legislature and Governor just enacted, even though firearms manufacturers are threatening to leave Connecticut, it’s still an open question what will come of the gun makers. Only a small part of Colt has left for greener pastures in Texas. After showing their hand on both the state and national stage, two Connecticut Democrats have put an interesting twist into gun politics.
In a move that an antigun group calls “lousy timing” and “bizarre,” Connecticut lawmakers are pushing to create a national park out of the historic former site of the Colt firearms plant in Hartford, just 50 miles from the site of the school shooting massacre in Newtown.
“If you want to glorify a gun maker, there’s other ways to do it, other than to create a new national park,” said Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a group made up of 47 organizations and associations.
Two Connecticut Democrats, Rep. John Larson and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, reintroduced the legislation this year to create the “Coltsville” National Historical Park on the site, which includes the Colt Armory and other buildings that were part of the 19th-century industrial enterprise founded by Samuel Colt. The entire congressional delegation supports the legislation.
But while some might say the effort is inappropriate in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on Dec. 14–and perhaps out of step with gun-control efforts in Congress that both Larson and Blumenthal have supported–the lawmakers say they see nothing untoward.
“The senator does not see a connection” between his efforts to get the national historic park established and his efforts at gun control, said a Blumenthal spokeswoman.
Rather, both he and Larson argue that the Coltsville complex is a “historic treasure” that they say enshrines Colt’s role in advancing the industrial revolution and manufacturing in Connecticut and nationwide.
Indeed, there is no disputing the role that Colt played in the history of Connecticut and the United States. Samuel Colt founded his Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in the mid-19th century. It wasn’t long before its Peacemaker six-shot revolver revolutionized personal firearms.
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While family members of victims of the Newtown shootings have remained quiet on the park issue, Ron Pinciaro, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence, said that it has crossed his mind that one motivation for elected officials to rally behind the national park effort could be to show that Connecticut values and wants to retain major companies in the firearms industry.
This is just rich – American politics at its best, or worst. We know that there have been untold number of Connecticut citizens who have told the political authorities that they intend to ignore the most recent Connecticut gun laws. We know that Colt has threatened to leave Connecticut. And we now know that gun control fizzled at the national level, so political alignments of convenience in supporting gun control don’t look like such a good plan in retrospect. Is this Blumenthal’s attempt to stay relevant in Connecticut? Is he simply trying to prevent manufacturing from leaving and taking jobs and revenue with them? Does he really believe that there is a distinction between the legendary single-action revolver and an AR-15 in the recent violence in Connecticut, given that the shooter had no opposition due to schools being gun free zones? Does he really believe that others will believe such a thing?
Ah. The questions are so promising, the potential discussion so pregnant, textured and rich. And I welcome the remarkable hypocrisy with open arms and a joyful heart.