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Connecticut Senate Democrats and Republicans disagree over response to fatal shootings

The Connecticut state Capitol building in Hartford.
Danielle Wedderburn
The Connecticut state Capitol building in Hartford.

Connecticut Democratic and Republican legislative leaders are pointing the fingers at each other following several fatal shootings in Hartford last weekend.

Both sides call for systemic reforms but disagree on what those reforms should be.

Republicans are concerned that the alleged shooter in one of the incidents was out on the street despite having multiple violent offenses cases pending, said Kevin Kelly, the leader of the GOP minority in the Senate.

“Really what you have here is a situation where you have more people with violent backgrounds getting returned back to their communities,” Kelly said.

Kelly blamed this on criminal justice reforms passed by the Democrats.

“Their policies of criminal justice reform have enabled individuals to return back to the community with very violent backgrounds. And then to have these types of events happen,” he said.

Senate Republicans had offered legislation in the last session that would have empowered law enforcement to combat gun violence, but it did not get the support of the majority Democrats.

“The alleged shooter was out on a very high bail I don’t know what the resources were that he was able to make bail in those circumstances,” said Democratic Senate President Martin Looney, in response to Kelly.

Democrats passed the state’s toughest gun violence prevention bill this year, without much Republican support.

“One of the things we did this year was to try to reduce the number of guns that are out on the street and sometimes sold illegally. It bans ghost guns to include those assembled prior to the ban,” Looney said.

Ghost guns manufactured prior to 2019 had previously not been included in the state’s ban.

Privately assembled, unmarked guns were allegedly used in at least three of the fatal shootings in Hartford last weekend, according to police.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.