View from Connecticut:
In 2013, Gov. Dannel Malloy pursued a closed-door legislative agenda to impose strict gun laws on Connecticut’s citizens and to cast an historic state industry, employing thousands here, as a villain. In campaign commercials, he continues the false narrative.
Gov. Malloy either doesn’t know much about an industry with a significant economic presence in his state or is so uneducated about federal and state law, as well as longstanding programs and practices, that it should be embarrassing.
First, the governor and his inner circle decided the people who know the most about firearms would be frozen out of any policy discussions. Then, on April 7, 2013, he decided to attack the industry on CNN.
“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible — even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background,” Malloy said. “They don’t care.”
Not one bit of this is true. We sent the governor a letter well over a year ago in an attempt to set the record straight. We are still waiting for a reply.
The governor made the conscious decision to go well beyond arguments about firearms features to castigate an entire industry. He must see a political advantage in using the industry as a straw man. But, this is not leadership and it does not represent responsible and inclusive governance. It is the politics of divisiveness and a lot of Connecticut citizens know it’s wrong.
No one in the firearms industry wants to put guns in the hands of criminals or seriously mental ill individuals. The firearms industry works with local, state and federal law enforcement officials every day to help prevent that from happening. We back that commitment with proven, practical programs.
Police departments across the nation distribute Project ChildSafe gun safety education material and gun locks to help prevent unauthorized access to firearms. Launched more than a decade ago with the assistance of a federal grant, Project ChildSafe is now funded solely by the firearms industry and a small number of public donations. The Connecticut State Police recently passed out Project ChildSafe locks at the Big E.
To help ensure that the appropriate mental health records are in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the industry launched the FixNICS campaign that resulted in 12 states adopting laws so that all the relevant records are submitted to the national database all federally licensed firearms retailers use to stop prohibited persons from buying firearms. One of the governor’s campaign ads says “Tom Foley refuses to support mandatory background checks for people with mental illness.” The charge is insensible, given there is only one check system for both criminals and those with adjudicated mental health records.
Developed in 2000 with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program is the industry’s initiative to assist firearms retailers in the identification of would-be illegal straw purchasers. It uses outdoor and radio advertising to inform the public about the serious penalties involved with the crime. We brought the public awareness campaign to Connecticut in 2013. Maybe he missed the huge billboards.
We are the nation’s firearms safety experts. We equip the American military and law enforcement, working cooperatively with law enforcement at all levels. We also make it possible for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights should they decide they want to both exercise that right and assume that responsibility.
We have not and will not quietly accept the role of villain in which Gov. Malloy has cast our industry whether in pursuit of mistaken and ineffective public policy or in search of a second term.
While Gov. Malloy seems to enjoy the sparring, we would prefer to be spending more time on the programs discussed above and on other cooperative ventures with members of our industry and the public. The governor can still call us if he wants our help, but we don’t expect that he will and we’re not holding our breath. Doing so would not seem to square with the style of slashing politics to which he is accustomed.
Joseph H. Bartozzi is senior vice president and general counsel, O.F. Mossberg & Sons Inc., North Haven.
Since you sent this open letter to Governor Malloy, I would like to send an open letter to Mossberg & Sons. This letter disappoints me in numerous ways. First of all, I couldn’t care less that you supply firearms to law enforcement. I do care deeply about my rights as recognized by the second amendment.
You wrote to the Governor as if he would behaved differently if he had just had “experts” in his policy discussions. You know better than that. You know that his behavior is a function of his collectivist world view, and the Governor would just as soon see you completely out of business (or supplying only to law enforcement so that they could retain their monopoly of violence).
The Governor couldn’t possibly care less about gun locks, the NICS, or the jobs of the good men and women who work at Mossberg & Sons. We recently saw an example of this kind of thing with the boy-Mayor of Jersey City who recently preened his feathers over spending more taxpayer money than he should have purchasing weapons for the police from a supplier who swore on their mother’s grave that they wouldn’t sell except to law enforcement. It has to do with value judgments, not facts and figures. The Governor and many others in Connecticut don’t value you or what you do.
You have ensconced yourselves deeper and deeper in a state that doesn’t respect anything about you, me, fellow firearms owners, or the second amendment. The real story here, and what you should have said in your letter, is that Governor Malloy campaigns against firearms owners and other American patriots. To be sure, there are good men in Connecticut, but they are in the minority given that collectivists continue to hold court. If you really believe the things you said in your letter, you need to do what so many other gun manufacturers have done – move South.