Lamont’s gun proposal falls flat for some, praised by others
Gov. Ned Lamont’s newest set of gun control proposals unveiled on Monday is getting mixed reviews.
In what is expected to be the first in a series of proposals pitched to the state legislature as a means to curb gun violence, Lamont’s proposal includes provisions that would limit handgun purchases to one per month to discourage straw purchases, ban open carry of firearms in public, update the state’s ban on so-called ghost guns and invest $2.5 million in community violence intervention programs.
State Rep. Aundre Bumgardner, D-Groton, said “gun violence has impacted Groton and communities across the state.”
“The Governor’s proposal includes critical items that could ultimately save lives and I look forward to reviewing his legislation to ensure that we are making critical investments towards preventing gun violence,” Bumgardner said.
State Rep. Greg Howard, R-Stonington, a police detective and ranking member of the Public Safety Committee, said the state should focus efforts on prosecuting existing gun laws rather than writing new laws.
He called the rate at which gun-related offenses are either dismissed or not prosecuted in the courts “astonishing.”
“We are not prosecuting the gun laws we have,” Howard said. “This is really where we need to be focused.”
For one example, Howard said statistics compiled by the Office of Legislative Research show that 90 people statewide were charged with the illegal transfer or purchase of a pistol or revolver in 2021. More than 93% of those cases were dismissed or nolled, or not prosecuted, statistics show.
Howard said he will take time to absorb the details and wording of Lamont’s full proposal and would reserve judgment on how he would vote on the open carry ban.
Connecticut laws, with some exceptions, do not prevent a gun owner with a permit from openly carrying the weapon. The new law would require those weapons to be concealed.
Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Holly Sullivan issued a statement on Monday saying Lamont’s proposals “not only fall short of fixing the issue, but present flawed and misdirected policies that will actually worsen the very urban crime wave the Governor claims to be addressing.”
The CCDL continues to advocate for firearm safety as part of the state Department of Education’s school curriculum.
Sullivan said the open carry law in the state, which allows a registered gun owner to display a weapon in public, “has long been lawful, safe, and relatively rare in Connecticut.”
John Drabik, an employee at Ron’s Guns in East Lyme, agreed Tuesday and said most lawful gun owners, including himself, keep guns concealed mostly to avoid drawing attention.
“It’s a waste of time,” Drabik said the Lamont’s proposed legislation. “Your criminal isn’t going to open carry.”
Lamont’s proposed limit on handgun sales to one per month, Drabik said, is another regulation for people “who already follow the rules.” Anyone eligible to buy a handgun has already gone through a background check and Drabik said the purchase of two or more firearms triggers federal notification.
Lamont, in his announcement on Monday, said the proposed limit on the bulk purchase of handguns is aimed at discouraging straw purchases, or the illegal purchase of a gun by one individual who sells it to another person.
“Many guns involved in crimes occurring in our communities are purchased illegally on the underground market and deterring this kind of straw purchasing will have a major impact on lowering crime,” Lamont said in his statement.
State Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London, said she agrees in principal with Lamont’s proposals, noting that more than 60 people have been shot and killed in mass shootings so far this year across the country. As for the proposed ban on open carry, Marx said she is personally uncomfortable when someone who displays a gun in a public place such as a grocery store. She said she would vote in favor of the open carry ban.
“I think Gov. Lamont is very sincere in that he wants to stop gun violence,” Marx said. “I think it is thoughtful legislation to try and keep the people of Connecticut safe.”
Marx said she also welcomed the legislation that updates and strengthens laws passed in 2019 pertaining to untraceable ghost guns, or guns that are homemade.
Lamont’s proposal would require engraved serial numbers on guns assembled prior to 2019. Those guns currently are grandfathered under the current legislation and do not require a serial number. Sullivan said the majority of people in possession of guns without serial numbers are prohibited from owning guns and are already breaking the law.