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Bridgeport requests gun makers to consider safety measures

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BRIDGEPORT–Faith leaders from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey joined police chiefs and mayors in Bridgeport today to fire a warning shot to gun manufacturers: if you do not help make our communities safer, we will put a bullet in your bottom line.

The effort, called the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, seeks to use the leverage of city and state buying power, which stands at 40 percent of the industry’s business, to push the industry to react.

Ultimately, the group is calling for a gun manufacturers to employ smart gun technology.

“Get your act together gun industry,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “You can right now make a gun that I could place in my hand it won’t fire if it doesn’t have the right palm print. You can make those with the technology available. Why are they not making them?”

That is a question Bridgeport minister Jacqueline Pettway is asking. Her 26-year-old son, LaChristopher Pettway, was gunned down 14 months ago when he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He inadvertently walked up on two groups that had guns drawn.

He ran to get some kids that we’re getting off the school bus out of the way and bullets started flying,” said Jacqueline Pettway, who is a member of You Are Not Alone, a group of Bridgeport mothers who have lost children to gun violence and offer support to one another.

Five people were shot that day, Sept. 10, 2013. Pettway was the lone fatality. His mother’s message to gun manufacturers: stop being greedy. “They don’t put a value on our children’s lives,” snarled Pettway, which drew groans from the crowd gathered inside the Margaret Morton Center.

Stag Arms, a New Britain gun maker, and O.F. Mossberg, a manufacturer from North Haven, declined to comment. Colt Manufacturing, a West Hartford company, did not reply to our request for comment.

“The firearms industry does not oppose the development or marketing of [smart gun] technology,” said Michael Bazinet of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the advocacy group for the industry. “We do oppose mandating it.  We believe the market should decide, especially since there are other proven technologies available that can secure firearms.”

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