An open letter to Connecticut House Minority Leader Themis Klarides:

I am not one of your constituents, but felt compelled to compose this letter because I am deeply concerned and troubled at the path that we, as a state, are following.  I am a life long resident of Connecticut, even electing to stay instate when I went away to college. I have seen it transform from a great place to live, put down roots and raise a family to a place I am now looking forward to leaving — all this in the span of just one generation.

Minority Leader Themis Klarides.
Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

I realize that the main culprit of our current situation is due to the many bad policies implemented by the more progressive-minded who seem to chronically be in the majority of legislative power, but I also put some of the blame on fellow Republicans who have repeatedly demonstrated an abandonment on some of our fundamental party principles.

I am a registered Republican but I am not a proud one as I have seen the GOP, both on a state and national level, lose its way and continually disappoint.

I consider myself to be a good citizen; I work six days a week, pay my taxes and bills, own a modest home, am a good neighbor and abide by the law.  I also believe in giving back to my community and devote the majority of my free time to volunteering through my civic organization.  I also feel strongly that it is my duty as a good citizen to act as a watchdog to our government, hence this correspondence.

I am sincerely dismayed by the positions you’ve taken on some key issues as the Republican leader in the House of Representatives.  For the sake of brevity I will only touch on a few:

SB1160 was the line in the sand for me.  The mantra that I constantly heard chanted at the LOB was, “We have to do something.”  The problem with that type of mindset is that you tend to get so desperate to satiate your need to simply “do something” that you usually end up doing something wrong.

SB1160 is a perfect example of that. The legislative process was pillaged; the bill was very poorly thought out and no vetting via public hearings was allowed.  It was pushed through under the guise of Emergency Certification even though there wasn’t any real emergency and the bill became law three and a half months after the fact.  It was proposed as a comprehensive, three pronged measure that would address gun control, mental health and school security, but the final 139-page draft composed of 136 pages devoted strictly to guns while the other three pages dealt with the issues of mental health and school security simply by kicking the can down the road to revisit for future studies.

But perhaps the most onerous component of SB 1160 was the implementation of universal background checks.

Regardless of how you may feel about firearms the fact is that the Second Amendment is a bona fide Constitutional right and therefore deserves to be treated with the same respect and consideration as all of our Constitutional rights.

The way universal background checks work is that whenever I am to buy a gun, any gun – new or used, from a private party or a licensed dealer –I have to first do a background check.  In doing that background check I have to call in to the state police and get their authorization.  In other words, they have to give their approval of the sale.

The fundamental flaw with that practice is that whenever we are put into a position where we have to ask the government for its permission to do something, each and every time we want to do it, we’ve lost it as a right.  What was once a bona fide Constitutional right has now been reduced to the level of a privilege.

The reality is that since the passage of SB1160 / PA13-3 the citizens of Connecticut lost their Second Amendment right and now only have a Second Amendment privilege in its place — and you supported this?

Representative, can you give any other example of a Constitutional right where a citizen has to repeatedly get the permission of the government before exercising it?

Unfortunately, because we were ostracized from participating in a public hearing, you were never able to learn of the workable solution to this where both sides could have gotten what they wanted.

You took a solemn oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution; not to subvert it, and not to eradicate it.  In breaking your solemn oath you betrayed the public trust.  You should never have been rewarded with a leadership role for your conduct.

The TRO bill had your support under your tenure as Minority Leader. [As of Oct 1, individuals who are subject to a court-ordered temporary restraining order will not be able to possess firearms or ammunition during the days leading up to their hearing.] As the law of the land I can now have my personal property stripped away from me based solely on hearsay and before I have my day in court.  The fundamental premise of innocent until proven guilty is the very foundation upon which our entire legal system is based.  We are a nation of laws and justice, but now a law abiding citizen is treated worse than a convicted felon; whereas at least that felon was initially afforded the presumption of innocence upon first entering the courtroom.

The Sikorsky deal also had your approval.  This is just another example of corporate welfare and the taxpayers will have to make up the financial difference.  Instead of looking at ways that we could make our state more business friendly and propose fair and equitable policies that would benefit all businesses, both large and small, you instead chose to support the Malloy administration’s initiative and further cemented a precedent where hard-working Connecticut taxpayers will be held hostage by corporate giants whenever they threaten to pack up their bags and leave.

There have been a great number of other poorly thought out policies that have been implemented in our state.  While most may start off with honorable intentions, as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details” and the text of these proposed laws have been detrimental to the citizenry.

I realize that these policies have almost always been the brain child of a Democrat, but they are also far too widely embraced by many Republicans.  Many citizens have chosen to leave Connecticut because of this.  I have not witnessed a mass exodus of this magnitude since Gov. Lowell Weicker implemented the income tax.

I personally know of a great many people that have left.  None regret it and all are fellow Republicans.  By continually making these poor decisions you are contributing to the further weakening of our voting bloc in what is already a dark blue state.  While the primary reason for leaving Connecticut was financial, the secondary reason was the continual erosion of our Constitutional rights.

It’s pretty simple, parents who love their children don’t want them to grow up where they’ll have fewer rights than they had.

This state is clearly on a path of self destruction.  Our best hope is to once again have a strong Republican Party, led by strong Republicans, who will steadfastly adhere to our party’s fundamental beliefs in smaller government, fiscal responsibility and Constitutional freedoms.

With the utmost respect, Representative Klarides, I ask that you please do what’s good for the party and good for the people of Connecticut and step down from your leadership role.

Dom Basile lives in Watertown.

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