David Collins: Amid talk on curbing gun violence, a Republican raises baseball bat murders

Apr. 10—I always appreciate feedback from readers, but one email that stood out recently as an especially astute reading of the news came from a woman who complained about the "inanity" of some comments by a state senator.

The subject was a pending bill in the General Assembly that would create a commission to study and develop strategies for addressing the growing problem of gun violence.

The commission would have the authority to raise federal grant funding and direct it to law enforcement and other agencies tasked with addressing gun violence. It has the support of the state's top law enforcement officer.

It is generally the opposite of the notion of defunding the police.

And yet Republicans, including eastern Connecticut's own Sen. Heather Somers of Groton and Rep. Kathleen McCarty of Waterford, tried to water down the proposal by widening the measure's focus to all violence, not just guns.

One Republican spoke up to fret about the crisis of blunt trauma, as if Connecticut parents worry every day that their children might go to school and innocently die as victims of a mass blunt trauma event.

Really, some Republicans will do or say anything to pander to their gun-loving constituents, rejecting even the most common sense attempts to address the slaughter of so many people by gun violence.

It was the quotes in a story in The Day from Sen. Somers that triggered the email to me from a reader.

Referring to a triple murder in Griswold in 2017, Somers noted that the perpetrator came from Hartford, a city "riddled with gun violence" to a town she represents, where guns outnumber people and residents have an issue with violence but not gun violence.

She said the Griswold murders, followed by an arson fire, were done by baseball bat and that "no guns were used in this particular situation."

Of course, this is ridiculous. Fact-checking organizations have been debunking the absurd myth that baseball bats kill more people than guns for years.

Actually, it won't come as much of a surprise to most readers that the FBI doesn't even keep statistics on baseball bat deaths. Deaths from blunt objects like clubs and hammers in general run about less than 5% of U.S. homicides, while guns account for more than 65%, far, far above all other dangerous weapons.

Not only was Sen. Somers wrong to suggest, as lawmakers contemplated controlling gun violence, bringing baseball bats into the discussion, but she was also misleading in her characterization of the Griswold murders.

The motive for the gruesome crime that occurred in a town Somers represents involved guns. Police and prosecutors said the murders followed a failed deal in which drugs were to be traded for guns kept by the victims.

Indeed, a commission to study and look for solutions to gun violence would want to take a close look at the gruesome triple murder in one of Sen. Somers' towns, where guns were at the heart of — the underlying motive — for the violence.

Sen. Somers did vote to move the gun violence commission bill out of committee, but she said it didn't mean she was going to necessarily vote for it when it comes before the full Senate.

I suppose it might depend on who is paying attention in the far reaches of her sprawling district — those who the senator says don't have issues with the alarming increase in gun violence, or the rest of us who do.

This is the opinion of David Collins.