Malloy: 'We may be the most violent society in the world'

A day after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that the U.S. "may be the most violent society in the world at this point, at least with respect to our own citizenry."   

"Put it this way, people are saying we shouldn't allow people from other countries into our country, why would any country allow Americans to go there? We're the most violent society, or one of the most violent societies, on the face of the Earth," Malloy said during a meeting with The Day's editorial board Thursday.

The shooting in San Bernardino carried out Wednesday by a married couple resulted in the death of 14 people and injuries to 21 others. Officials are still determining a motive.

On the day of the shooting Malloy announced that he was stepping up state police patrols at the state's Department of Developmental Services facilities.

"Based on the information we had as of yesterday afternoon where this was an attack on a facility that was serving handicapped individuals ... and because we're afraid of copy cats, we took that step," Malloy said Thursday.

The San Bernardino massacre is said to be the deadliest mass shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which resulted in the death of 28 people, 20 of them children.

Sandy Hook happened about two years into Malloy's first term, and he was the one who informed the families of the victims that their loved ones were dead.

Following Sandy Hook, Connecticut passed gun control legislation in April 2013, considered to be the strictest gun law in the nation at the time.

Under the law, the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds is prohibited and background checks for private gun sales, including at gun shows, are required.

From 2013 to 2015, there were eight mass shootings in Connecticut resulting in a combined eight deaths and 38 wounded, according to Shooting Tracker, a crowdsourced website that defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot in one event.

On Thursday, Malloy cited statistics such as the fact that since 2001 more than 400,000 Americans have died on U.S. soil as a result of "gun use" in the country.

"Just to put it in perspective, 407,000 Americans died in World War II, " he said.

One statistic that is "never used" is how many lives are potentially saved by the use of firearms in situations of self-defense, said Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, the state's largest grassroots gun rights group.

Wilson said there are stories in the news every day, though "they don't always make the front page," about someone using a firearm to protect their home or themselves.

"Why are those statistics never brought up?" he asked.  

On Thursday, Malloy called for universal background checks at the federal level, as he has in the past, to close loopholes that allow people to trade guns, buy guns over the Internet or at a gun shows, all of which happen without a background check, he said.

"We can have the strongest gun laws and California can have the strongest gun laws but until you deal with the issue of universal background checks there is a gaping hole in gun safety. Just that one thing would make every American safer," he said.

Wilson, in a telephone interview, responded: "Having gun control above and beyond what we already have is not going to help."

"Criminals will always find the ways and means to get weapons to harm or kill people," he said.

He said CCDL members are in favor of law enforcement officials cracking down on straw purchases and strong penalties for criminals who are convicted of using a firearm in association with a crime.

Malloy pointed out that those on the U.S. terrorist watch list can legally purchase a gun.

Connecticut's U.S. House of Representatives delegation, all Democrats, issued a collective statement Thursday on the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, proposed by Republican Rep. Peter King, who represents New York's 2nd District.

"For the third time this week, House Republicans blocked a commonsense measure to keep those on the FBI's Terrorist Watchlist from legally obtaining deadly weapons. This is unconscionable. For the safety of the American people, Congress must hold a vote to close this dangerous loophole," the delegation said in their statement.

At the end of November, the CCDL came out with a statement against the proposed legislation saying the criteria that places someone on the list are "unclear and vague," and that guns purchased by individuals on the list are "reported to and approved by the federal government," among other arguments.

j.bergman@theday.com

Twitter: @JuliaSBergman

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