Council member Stephanie Philips (D-2nd District), rebuffed in her efforts to introduce a resolution at last week’s council meeting that sought the council’s support of a federal ban on assault weapons, doesn’t plan on giving up the fight.
“I received a flood of emails encouraging me to continue, and lots of advice on how to revise the resolutions,” said Philips. “And I will be resubmitting a revised resolution next week.”
In an email released to the media on Thursday, Jan. 10, Philips said that Stratford Town Council Chairman Joseph Kubic (R-9th District) had declined to place the resolution on the Jan. 14 agenda.
Philips said she advocates for the passage of an assault weapons ban and hoped introduction of the resolution would serve to honor slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher and Stratford resident Victoria Soto. Soto was among the 26 murdered in Newtown on Dec. 14.
Philips said she had had conversations with family members since Soto was murdered while protecting her students and said she believed they supported her resolution. But despite that belief, Victoria Soto’s family had not given their support to the resolution as Philips had claimed.
For her part, Philips said she understood if in the chaos of the past month they had had a change of heart.
At the meeting on Monday, words like “shameful” and “knee-jerk” were tossed about as council members voiced displeasure with each other over the resolution.
Kubic had previously cited timing as a main reason he had left the resolution off the agenda. “I just don’t think the resolution that Stephanie proposed is appropriate for the [Jan. 14] meeting in light of the fact that we already have a resolution to rename a school in honor of Victoria Soto scheduled before the council,” Kubic said.
Mayor John A. Harkins proposed the renaming of Honeyspot Elementary School in memory of Soto on Monday, Jan. 7. That measure gained approval from the Town Council at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Councilman Matt Catalano said his main issue with the resolution was that it came from one person, but would affect the entire town. He said Philips never consulted with the rest of the council nor did she propose a forum to discuss the issue with Stratford’s residents as a whole.
“Don’t think any of us sitting on this dais have any fear of discussion,” said Catalano. “Not a whole lot of dialogue went into this resolution.”
Some in town suggest that Philips had offered the resolution for the council to review several weeks prior to the Jan. 14 meeting, but in an email to the media, Philips herself indicated that the resolution was put before the council only on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 8, “a day earlier than the deadline for all resolutions and council business,” Philips said.
Kubic has contended that the Stratford Town Council may not be the proper forum for taking up the issue of gun control. “What happened in Sandy Hook is horrible and everybody obviously feels terrible for the people of Newtown and those affected by the shooting,” Kubic said. “But I expect the state legislature and Congress to address the issue of gun control.”
Philips has drawn her own conclusions from the Jan. 14 meeting. “From the council members’ comments,” she said, “there does not appear to be any willingness to address gun violence and send a message to the state and Congress of our wishes.” They [the council] appear to want to sidestep this issue and characterize it only as a Democratic political issue, as if gun violence only strikes by party affiliation.”
Philips’s resolution, among other things, calls for the council, on behalf of the residents of Stratford, to express condolences to the victims and families of Sandy Hook. The resolution also calls on the Town Council “to express support for the efforts begun by the President and Congress to understand the causes of such violence, the role of firearms in such tragedies, and effective actions that can be taken to prevent and deter such acts of violence.”
Joseph Cole contributed to this story.