Archive - Feb 9, 2013

The SMART Citizens Town Hall

On Thursday, there was another Citizens' Town Hall in Woodbridge. It was a chance for people to get together and discuss what was going on in Hartford. This month, none of the State Legislators could make it, so it was a discussion amongst citizens.

A few had been to a town hall a few weeks before in a neighboring town. That town hall had two State Legislators attend but the people who went to it complained about the lack of specificity by the State Legislators and their unwillingness to commit to anything. Perhaps some of this is because of the hyper-partisan nature of politics today and how divisive some issues are.

As part of the CT Health Foundation's, Health Leadership Fellows Program, I've been thinking a lot about things like the intent of one's action, the actual impact of the actions, and SMART goals. SMART is an abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. All of these seem like things State Legislators should be looking towards, even though some of them tend to avoid specificity.

A good example is the discussion about gun control. One of the State Reps danced around the issue saying that it isn't clear what's going to happen yet. However, I've been following the news. I know that a bunch of bills have been introduced recently.

I've been tracking a bunch of bills in Pearltrees. One bill is S.B. No. 604, AN ACT CONCERNING THE SECURE SAFEKEEPING OF FIREARMS.

The purpose of the bill is "To require a firearm's owner to safely secure the firearm in a locked box or container if the owner knows or should that another person residing in the home presents as a danger to self or others."

There are plenty of issues with this bill. Does it lead to further discrimination against mentally ill people? What about veterans with post traumatic stress disorder? On the other hand, shouldn't all firearm owners safely secure firearms? Some would say that they need to keep their guns easily accessible in case of home invasion, so there is an argument against requiring all people to keep their guns constantly secured.

In an article in the New Canaan News, The Nancy Lanza law: Bill focuses on safekeeping of guns, State Rep. Klarides asks, "It's just how to define what the mental health issue is. Where do we draw the line?"

It seems as there are some simple lines that could be drawn. They might not be perfect, but we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. For example, instead of referring to mentally ill people, it might be good to refer to people who have an increased likelihood of misusing guns, including anyone who has been convicted of a drug or alcohol related crime or has been prescribed a psychiatric medicine in the past year.

Legislation, as well as discussions about legislation need to be smarter. They need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Discussing ways to make S.B No. 604 implementable is a good example of ways the legislative process can be smarter.

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