State Senator Joseph J. Crisco, Jr. (D-17) joined a bipartisan majority of his Senate colleagues and voted to approve comprehensive gun violence prevention measures for the state to include new responsibilities for gun owners, school security provisions, and improved access to mental health services.
The bill approved by the Senate today is a direct result of the December 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that left 20 children and six adults dead. Its details are the byproduct of an extensive public hearing process and protracted negotiations among legislative leaders of both political parties.
“In one single day last fall Connecticut instantly became the focus of a national outcry for common sense efforts to prevent these episodes that have become all-too-common and simply unacceptable in our culture,” Crisco said. “Today’s legislative action includes a broad range of initiatives calling for greater accountability for gun ownership and a fortified effort to address shortcomings in delivering behavioral health services.”
Crisco served on the Mental Health Services Working Group of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety and said he was pleased to see many of its recommendations included in the bill that was approved today.
“The best aspect of the mental health services portion of this bill requires the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to work with the state Department of Education to provide training in mental health first aid – that is to say, the ability to recognize warning signs for behavioral health disorders so services can be made available,” Senator Crisco said. “We have an obligation to public school students in Connecticut to identify and then address their needs as they grow and develop and this provision for mental health first aid training goes a long way in that regard.”
The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for its consideration and debate. Provisions of the bill are said to have broad support in the House; Governor Malloy has already indicated he will sign the bill if the House approves it.