WETHERSFIELD - Wethersfield activist Carmen Saez has testified for more than 50 bills in front of Hartford’s Judiciary Committee and continues to testify in hot-button issues such as gun control and mental health.
Saez, who suffers from bipolar disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, uses humor to make her impression.
“I always try to make them laugh; humor gets you a thousand miles,” she said. “You gotta have some facts, but be sarcastic.”
The volunteer activist testifies on matters that are far from humorous, though, most recently for second amendment rights and mental health treatment.
“In 2010 I was fighting for people who had guns to report their gun missing so it doesn’t fall into the hands of criminals,” she said. “There’s a low statistic of people [with registered guns] who do crimes. It’s usually stolen guns that fall into the wrong hands.”
Saez said she takes two positions on the issue. “I’m stuck in the middle--I respect the NRA [National Rifle Association] in the sense that I don’t always agree with them, but anyone who sticks up for the second amendment that we have the right to bear arms,” she said. “But they don’t want to do background checks and gun show checks. There’s a limit, I feel, that they can work something out for the bigger magazines, like maybe only have them at hunting ranges.”
She also takes several stances on mental health, affirming that mental health physicians have a responsibility to report imminent behavior.
“[Patients] go into counseling and they end up saying ‘I’m going to kill her;’ they’re not reporting things that become future crimes,” she said. “They need to make it easier for police officers to get the 72-hour restraining order for them to get hospitalized.”
Saez also fights on mental health patients’ behalf for funding for their proper care.
“It concerns me, especially with budget talks cutting funding, that social services will take the first hit,” she said. If that happens, “in the future you’re going to see the tragedy. If [mental health patients] don’t get the help they need, that’s going to lead them to more despair and more depression.”
Saez believes in finding a middle ground solution whenever possible, which is why she always waits until she hears all arguments before testifying.
“If it was as simple as saying ‘Oh, this is the second amendment’ or ‘Let’s fight the NRA, they’re the big bad wolf,’ it’s not,” she said. “It’s not just funding, it’s not just mental health; it’s a community banding together and caring about each other.”