Jim Crow Comes To Newtown

To the Editor:

Remember “Jim Crow?”  It was a term used to describe post Civil War laws and ordinances that enabled racial discrimination and segregation, in flagrant violation of the Constitution.  Well Jim Crow has found a new home in Newtown thanks to an invitation from the Newtown Action Alliance, endorsed and signed by First Selectwoman Pat Llodra.

Yes, welcome to Newtown, Jim Crow, where the exercise of certain Constitutional rights and certain individuals aren’t welcome. Violators will be picketed, refused service, and called vile names in public forums.  The “violators” are residents of Newtown and Connecticut who own and possess a gun.

Some in Newtown don’t want to own a gun or see a gun in public, but there are quite a few who do. According the Wall Street Journal and CNN, in the first half of 2013 alone there are 203 more Newtown residents now permitted to buy and possess a hand gun.  Jim Crow’s going to be very busy!

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not mandatory and it’s not for everyone.  But it is a right enumerated in the original Bill of Rights and on par with privacy, trial by jury, and eventually the abolishment of slavery, and universal suffrage as examples.  But in Newtown, some rights and residents are now less equal than others.

An elected public official, ethically bound to treat and represent all Newtown residents in a fair and impartial manner, using his/her position to lobby a company to prohibit lawful activity is nothing short of discrimination. If the endorsed prohibition in Newtown were against a certain gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, the public would be outraged, and rightfully so!  But when it comes to lawful gun ownership, some in Newtown, starting with First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, endorse and cheer the blatant and disgraceful discrimination against their fellow residents.

Welcome to Newtown, Jim Crow!

Bill Stevens

139 Huntingtown Road, Newtown   August 27, 2013

More stories like this: guns, Llodra, Second Amendment, Jim Crow


Rights versus courtesy

It is most certainly a right guaranteed by the Constitution to bear arms. It is also a Constitutionally guaranteed right that we have free speech. The right to free speech is not unlimited, however, as we all know it is illegal to scream "fire" in a crowded public place. No sensible person feels their fundamental right to free speech is being restricted by a tyrannical government as a result of this sensible restriction. This time honored legal restriction on a Constitutional right protects the public from unnecessary alarm that can cause inadvertent harm. Might the same sensibility apply to public displays of weapons and our Second Amendment rights? I think so.

Also, while I may have the right to call someone a disgusting name,for instance, it is not always wise or considerate to do so, event though it is my right. In regard to public displays of weapons there is a special case in Newtown. Children here who are accompanying their parents may have been witness to the horrific gunfire that killed 26 people. To them, the sight of an adult carrying a weapon can easily be seen as profoundly and unnecessarily traumatizing. The same is not true for the same public display in, say, Bethel or Southbury. The issue then is not so much about rights as it is about considerate citizenship and neighborliness in a town with a tragic recent history of gun violence.

It is important for gun owners to know their rights are protected and that they can even carry weapons legally. It is important that the rest of Americans accept and protect that right. But certainly, the point can be made in more skillful ways in other places then to display a weapon publicly here. Can we think of another way to make this important point about the right of gun-ownership? I would support any other way to make the point.

Finally, a person who is legally discriminated against because of skin color can not change their skin to achieve equality. It is the law that must change, and more importantly, attitudes. A person bearing a weapon in public may be inconvenienced to accomodate local sensibilities (i.e. avoiding the unnecessary retraumatization of a child who may have been a witness to brutal local gun violence), much as a person must restrain the impluse to scream fire in a theater in order to accomodate public safety. But, their basic rights to bear arms and have access to equal citizenship are untouched by this single restriction that accomodates good taste and respects those who lost loved ones. Comparing Jim Crow laws that virtually enslaved an entire people in ALL aspects of their lives to local ordinances to restrict public displays of weapons that only affect that ONE aspect of life is more than a bit of a stretch. This comparison minimizes the universal discrimination victims of Jim Crow laws lived with in every aspect of their lives. Also, they were not discriminated against because of the exercise of a right, but because of the color of their skin.

Courtesy for and from all.

How was courtesy shown to traumatized victims and the community as a whole when anti-gun organizations and individuals exploited the tragedy, paraded victim family members around and forced Newtown to be a center for gun debate? After all, they are the only reason out of town-ers were even considering gathering in Newtown. How is it courteous for Starbucks to make an international policy to refuse service to any individual carrying a firearm. That includes both open carry and concealed carrying individuals. The demand being made by Newtown Action Alliance and our political representatives is about more than being courteous. If they were truly concerned with the sensitivity of residents, they would simply ask for weapons to remain concealed and limit the request only to Newtown. Never mind the fact that Starbucks did the courteous thing. They closed the Newtown store when there was supposed to be a gathering of pro-gun and anti-gun supporters.

I have yet to see a single individual within Newtown openly carrying a weapon since 12-14. To my knowledge, people are being extremely courteous.

There is no disguising the letter written to Starbucks. The victims are yet again being directly exploited to push a political agenda. There isn't an ounce of real concern or courtesy. I won't get in to a 2nd amendment debate.... But I will just say: many people believe the 2nd amendment protects the right of an individual to carry (bear) a firearm. The anti-gun lobbyist group and the anti-gun politicians in CT are trying to directly circumvent the 2nd amendment by persuading and threatening private businesses into banning guns entirely.

All that being said. There is merit to a lot of what you wrote. Especially: "It is important for gun owners to know their rights are protected and that they can even carry weapons legally. It is important that the rest of Americans accept and protect that right. But certainly, the point can be made in more skillful ways in other places then to display a weapon publicly here." But the key aspect you leave out is that gun owner's rights are not protected. It has been blatantly clear that a number of American don't accept and want to dissolve that right. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be the extremists on both sides. One trying to completely ban firearms and the other trying remove regulations and laws surrounding them. Unfortunately, when you have lobbyists and politicians using Newtown to further their extreme agendas; you are going to have extremists on the other end openly carrying their firearms in a non-courteous fashion.

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