When political candidates are reduced to caricatures, there's no room for decorum or humanity.

Exploiting tragedies is nothing new for politicians.


One can easily point to the proliferation of anti-gun sentiments on the left after every mass shooting, as well as anti-immigrant sentiments on the right whenever some non-native-born American crosses against the light.


And so for Bob Stefanowski to use the recent murder of two Bristol police officers as fodder for his gubernatorial campaign is not surprising. Not surprising, but unseemly and exploitative, even in the current era of gracelessness and smarm.


Those two law officers died not because of police underfunding or any legislative flaws that made their jobs more difficult. They died because a murderer—unhinged, well-armed, and uninterested in political or philosophical discourse—decided to murder them.


It was cold-blooded, more than likely pre-meditated, and unquestionably inhuman. For a politician of any stripe to connect the crime to a sitting officeholder's legislative record is not merely harebrained but outrageous and repellant.


And at the risk of being criticized for taking a similar tack myself, I suggest that the only legislative act that can keep a madman from committing murder with an assault weapon is to keep such an assailant— and maybe all men and women and children—from even coming within breathing distance of such a weapon.


Stefanowski demurs when the firearms aspect of the crime arises, but he knows—as we all do—that an ambush such as the one encountered by Sgt. Dustin DeMonte and Officer Alex Hamzy was only exacerbated by the use of a weapon whose only function is to kill more victims faster. The assailant was not the end result of a permissive legal system; he was a murderer with access to a weapon that allowed him to ply his grisly trade more efficiently.


Police, by the very nature of their jobs, must often wade into danger. Why are we so willing to let gun manufacturers and gun sellers exacerbate that danger? (And before some clever expert reminds me that police work ranks below farmer and iron worker as the most dangerous occupations, let me reiterate that accidents and carelessness make most of those other jobs dangerous. A man with a weapon of war is not an accident.)


Connecticut has done well in honoring the fallen officers: the grief has been widespread and honest. And while we don't wish for another's death, the killing of the murderer himself will obviate the need for a long and painful trial during which surviving family members will suffer the events again each day.


We're all, for better or worse, past the point where we expect decorum and sensitivity in our political campaigns, but expecting some humanity should not be too much to ask. The Bristol murders should never have become a campaign issue, and shame on all the candidates who have made it one.




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