ABOUT TOWN: Bipartisan

About-Town-Margaret-WirtenbergWith a headline of “bipartisan” you can be sure this is not a column about Washington, D.C.

You are invited by the League of Women Voters of Weston to join them Friday, May 17, at the Red Barn in Westport.

The luncheon speaker will be one of Weston’s state senators, John McKinney of the 28th District. He also represents Newtown in the legislature, as well as parts of several other towns. And as Senate minority leader, he was a key member of a task force that addressed the issue of gun violence.

No one will forget the shock of last Dec. 14, when the Sandy Hook Elementary School became ground zero leading to a national campaign for improved laws on gun control.

How did the resulting actions of one small state make a difference? How did legislative leadership in Connecticut do it? How did they manage to become an example of bipartisanship at its best? Will the fact that our elected state officials came together to pass “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety” start a new trend nationwide?

Can we hope to see other examples of bipartisanship in Connecticut on other issues? On this particular issue, Weston certainly took a bipartisan approach. Did the brave efforts of our Board of Selectmen help? The Weston Board of Selectmen certainly lit a fire under various actors in this post-Newtown drama, as I perceived it.

What factors contributed to making the Newtown tragedy possible? Could it instead have happened here, less than 20 miles away?

Did lax control of gun registrations contribute? How about easy availability of guns in the shooter’s home? Were violent video games a factor? How should access to guns by those having untreated mental health conditions be handled?

Gun permit applications are reported to have increased enormously since SB1160 became law. The present backlog is about 62,000.

Did the legislature expect this? What is causing it? New in-depth scrutiny of applicants, or a bureaucratic underestimate of demand?

What else can and should be done to assure that a safe and nurturing environment exists in our schools, and that this kind of tragedy will never happen again?

Particularly intriguing to me will be Sen. McKinney’s thoughts on whether or not this example of how to act in a bipartisan manner has truly rubbed off on the legislature, and if we can expect it to act in a similar manner in the future.

Those interested in attended the luncheon may find further information on it at the league website, lwvweston.org.


One of the good things about living in Weston is that the measure everyone uses to measure safety comes back mainly to protecting children, whether one has children in school or not.

In Weston, we have a Town Plan of Conservation and Development, thanks to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which takes a nonpartisan stance in protecting the Weston scene. A majority of Republicans even elected a Democrat to chair this most important board!

The central part of town, including our school campus, is a particular focus of that plan.

It is the Planning and Zoning Commission that should be in the forefront of any changes that may be coming to the central part of town. I am sure our Board of Selectmen will not neglect to involve P&Z in this.

As soon as school safety plans and their financing requirements become public, P&Z should be asked for its input.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program, 5:30  on Cablevision Channel 88. Or visit aboutweston.com.

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