CT's top lawmakers explore ways to tackle gun violence at hearing
Connecticut lawmakers held a gun violence hearing Friday following the shocking shooting of a 3-year-old in Hartford earlier this month.
Officials heard directly from people who have been affected by gun violence and who want to make the streets safer.
"A lot of these shootings and retaliation goes back to 'disrespect,'" says Leonard Jahad, of the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program. "Let's role play. And I've had many youth say, 'You know what? Something happened to me and I was able to take a breath. I was able to grasp it.'"
COVID-19 has made the streets more dangerous. State police say murders jumped 25% last year. Most of them happened in just four cities - Bridgeport, Waterbury, New Haven and Hartford.
"I don't always see it as just having a gun. But it's the poverty; it's the lack of housing," says state Sen. Marilyn Moore.
The new federal relief bill could help. Gov. Ned Lamont wants to offer free apprenticeships and discounted child care.
"What do we need? We need some help," says Jahad.
Gun violence programs are also in line for up to $10 million - but that's just one-time relief.
"What happens in eight years when that money disappears? There's still going to be gun violence," says Jeremy Stein, of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.
Groups tell lawmakers that if they want to prevent these murders, they need to put their money where their mouth is.
Hospitals also want to hire full-time violence workers with federal Medicaid money. State lawmakers are considering a bill to allow it.