Goldrick: Republicans should not get credit for gun safety laws

Letter to the editor submitted by Sean Goldrick, financial professional specializing in Asian markets. He served two terms on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation

In a recent oped, Republican Bill Drake, praising General Assembly Republicans from Greenwich for working “tirelessly and effectively for our town and for our state,” claimed that they “created and supported” Connecticut’s gun safety law. Really?

Far from “creating the gun safety laws” after Newtown, majorities of Republicans in both chambers of the General Assembly voted against it. Republican Senator Scott Frantz offered numerous amendments designed to weaken the bill (HB 1160) that was championed by Governor Malloy and passed only thanks to strong Democratic support. State Representative Fred Camillo didn’t show up to vote. Further, Fred Camillo’s actions and utterances on guns is deeply disturbing.

In 2012, Representative Camillo, facing criticism from his Democratic opponent Dave Rafferty, claimed that he had resigned from the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC”, the far-right group funded with millions of dollars by the NRA that pushes anti-gun control NRA legislation into state legislatures.

It was ALEC that pushed the “shoot first” laws into states around the country. Fred Camillo is once again listed as a member of ALEC, and he confirmed to a constituent that he is a member. Indeed, there is no evidence that he ever resigned from ALEC.

So it is no surprise that ALEC member Camillo failed to vote on the Newtown gun control bill, nor that he praised Florida governor Rick Scott, who sports an A+ rating from the NRA, as a “successful governor”.

Drake claims that these Greenwich Republicans have made “productive efforts on behalf of women.” Really? Fred Camillo proposed SB 330, “An Act Requiring an Ultrasound Procedure Prior to the Termination of a Pregnancy”, that would require every woman seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound.

Camillo also introduced SB 576, “An Act Concerning Unborn Victims of Violence,” a so-called “personhood” bill, that was specifically designed to circumvent the protections of Roe v Wade, and outlaw abortion. When these anti-abortion bills began to attract attention, Camillo withdrew them. But does anyone doubt that if Republicans take control of the governorship and the legislature, Camillo’s anti-abortion bills will be reintroduced and passed? Does anyone think these bills, that take away women’s right to determine their reproductive futures, were made “on behalf of women”? And is it any wonder that Camillo and the rest of the Greenwich Republicans have been silent as Republicans put the anti-abortion extremist, Brett Kavanaugh, onto the Supreme Court?

And what about other issues important to women and other citizens of our state, such as education? All four Greenwich Republicans – Frantz, Bocchino, Camillo, and Floren- voted for the Republican budget (HB 7501) to slash more than $300 million from state funding for the University of Connecticut, which university president Susan Herbst called “unprecedented”, and claimed “would decimate the university for years to come.” The Connecticut Education Association stated that the Republican budget hit teachers with a $100 million teacher tax; “redistributed ECS to the detriment of needier districts; limited state employee collective bargaining; and undermined municipal collective bargaining.”

Drake claims that we can see “the good work” of these Republicans “everywhere we look.” Look at these four Republicans’ attempts to impose Jim Crow voter suppression laws on the people of our state. Even though the Connecticut Election Enforcement Commission has repeatedly affirmed that there has not been a single allegation of in-person voter fraud in Connecticut in over half a century of record-keeping, these four Republicans voted repeatedly to amend our constitution to require “valid” photo ID’s, a requirement that is laser-focused on preventing African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people from voting. If the Republicans succeed in taking control of our state, voter suppression will be the first bill they pass into law.

But perhaps it’s HB 5009, the notorious car wash cronyism bill, that most typifies how these Republicans operate. Despite facing a billion-dollar deficit, Camillo, Floren, Bocchino, and Frantz proposed a multi-million dollar special interest tax benefit for the car wash industry, legislation especially benefiting two wealthy carwash owners in Greenwich. And they proposed that bill despite employees bringing a class action lawsuit against the company alleging violation of minimum wage laws and wage theft.

This is the picture of legislators working “tirelessly and effectively for our town and our state”? Special interest tax breaks? Anti-abortion bills designed to circumvent Roe v Wade? Massive cuts to our universities? Huge tax increases on public school teachers? Weakening our gun laws? Membership in an NRA front group? Racist voter suppression? That’s what voters should consider “good work”?

Vote them out. All of them. This year.

See also:

Bill Drake: Starting Connecticut’s Turn-Around

Note: The deadline for letters in support of candidates in the November 6, 2018 election is Monday, October 29, 2018.

Not all letters will be published. Instead we will select a sampling of letters.