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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shame on George Tremblay, Dan Slattery and Tom Gentz

CCA Town Councilors frivolous response to gun violence
Ashton and Alton Perry
By Will Collette

Only one day after Town Council member George Tremblay (CCA) publicly heaped scorn on a request from Providence Mayor Angel Tavares for RI municipalities to take a stand against gun violence – calling it “a knee-jerk reaction to a terrible tragedy” – gun violence struck close to home.

On February 26, Stonington, CT grandmother, Debra Denison, took her two grandsons, aged 6 months and two years old, from day care in North Stonington, drove them to a Foxwoods golf course and shot them and herself dead with a 38 caliber pistol.

In January, Providence Mayor Angel Tavares (D) sent an e-mail to municipalities asking them to join with him and Cranston Mayor Alan Fung (R) in looking for ways to improve Rhode Island's gun laws and access to mental health services. Tavares also noted that Providence was conducting a gun buy-back program and hoped for the creation of a statewide buy-back program. 

Councilor Paula Andersen (D) asked that this matter be placed on the Council agenda. 

Read Tavares' e-mail by clicking here.

But when this matter came up at the February 25 Council meeting, Tremblay immediately voiced his scorn for the entire Tavares’ initiative. 

Then Councilor Dan Slattery (CCA) chimed in by lambasting Tavares’ proposal that municipalities join in a statewide gun buy-back program. Looking at our Chief of Police, Slattery held that gun violence is an urban problem, not one of concern to communities like Charlestown.

As if the Charlestown Police have never had to deal with a gun situation. Or had never been shot at by some nut with a gun. As if there's never been an accident where some kid has played with some old gun that no one thought was dangerous.

Slattery seems to forget that Newtown, CT is practically Charlestown's demographic twin - but then again December 14 was so very long ago. Right, Dan? 

Getting unneeded guns out of homes and keeping them out of the hands of the mentally ill is only something city folks need to be worried about. Like North Stonington, for example? Isn't that right, George?

Town Council boss Tom Gentz (CCA) at first chuckled at his CCA colleagues’ remarks, but then caught himself, saying the Town Council doesn’t consider gun violence to be a laughing matter.

It’s just something the three of them don’t give a shit about.

In the end, the Council voted for the replacement motion by Councilor Paula Andersen (D) to adopt the city of Newport’s variation on Tavares’ proposal, one that omits mention of a gun buy-back program.

Slattery dismissed the idea of a gun buy-back program, arguing that in Charlestown, people use guns for hunting and what’s the point of paying people to turn in guns they don’t want, presumably because they don’t work, or they found them, or whatever. He also asserted that bad guys won’t be turning in any guns.

Yes, it’s true that most Charlestown guns are used by hunters. Yes, it’s true that many guns turned in to buy-back programs are old and often broken. Yes, it’s true that many bad guys lack motivation to turn in guns unless they're broken.

But buy-backs are one of several ways to get guns off the street or out of the basement or closet where a kid might find it and think it's a neat toy.

Plus I wonder where (and how) Debra Denison, who was described in the Connecticut State Police Amber Alert as “bi-polar” and suffering from other mental disorders, got that revolver?

No municipal resolution of support by Charlestown or Stonington or Newport or Providence will bring Ashton and Alton Perry or their grandmother back to life. No one single measure will prevent such tragedies in the future. It will take time and lots of different approaches. It will take many voices of people from all across America - rural as well as urban - to say we're sick of it.

It is time that we recognize that gun violence is not just an urban problem - you would have thought we learned that from Newtown. There are too many guns out there. We make it far too easy for a dangerous person to get a gun and use it to kill. A wide majority of the American people are just damned sick of it and expect our political leaders to step up.

Our CCA Town Councilors may choose to behave like curmudgeons or cynics or clowns in the face of senseless violence. To do so seems to suit their ultra-conservative values and those of their political base.

But it is an insult to the thousands of people killed every year in America’s cities, suburbs and, yes, even rural communities like Charlestown – or North Stonington or Newtown – for these town leaders to fail to even take the problem seriously.

I suppose Tom Gentz will grace us with one of his fatuous moments of silence in the memory of these two dead babies at the next Town Council meeting to compensate for their disgraceful conduct on February 25.

Yes, George, Dan and Tom. There are two more dead kids, practically in our backyard. Yes, George, maybe we DO need some more “knee-jerk” reactions. Perhaps even some substantive actions. We could certainly do with far fewer jerks like you and Dan and Tom.

Listen and watch the CCA’s Three Wise Men on the Town Council by clicking here. Just a warning - you may find it nauseating.