Candidates for governor clash over gun control following Texas school shooting

Gun control has suddenly emerged as an issue in the Connecticut governor's race, following Tuesday's mass shooting at a Texas elementary school. The scene was eerily similar to the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown.

John Craven

May 26, 2022, 9:19 PM

Updated 727 days ago

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Gun control has suddenly emerged as an issue in the Connecticut governor's race, following Tuesday's mass shooting at a Texas elementary school. The scene was eerily similar to the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown.
One day after the shooting, Gov. Ned Lamont used a state Capitol rally to call for more gun control laws.
"It doesn't work if we're doing this on our own," he said.
Earlier this year, Lamont proposed a series of changes, including expanding Connecticut's assault rifle ban to more types of weapons and those made before 1993. Lamont also proposed trigger locks for all firearms instead of just handguns. Gun dealers would need a state license, weapons would be banned from demonstrations and polling places, and police could ask gun owners to produce their carry permits on demand.
State lawmakers abandoned the plan after fierce backlash.
"Essentially what this is doing is banning lawfully permitted people carrying firearms from virtually all public places," said state Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-Chaplin) during a public hearing in March.
Lamont's Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, said in a Twitter video that he won't loosen gun restrictions.
"Connecticut already has the strongest gun laws in the entire nation and they should stay that way," he said. "But I'll use my platform as governor to urge Congress for a comprehensive overhaul of our federal guns laws to promote solutions that protects the rights of every law-abiding gun owner, but also that prevents those who pose a risk to themselves and others from getting a gun in their hands in the first place."
But in a leaked video in 2018, Stefanowski criticized the strict bipartisan guns law passed after Sandy Hook.
"In my view, [Senate Bill] 1161 is not a good bill," Stefanowski says in the video. "I will veto any legislation that makes it tougher on gun owners."
Lamont accused his opponent of a flip-flop on Thursday.
"I'm glad that he's had a change of heart," said Lamont. "I hope he doesn't have another change of heart because you've got to be consistent and you've to be clear."
The question is: After yet another school shooting, how will all this play with voters?
Retired Democratic lawmaker Mike Lawlor served as Gov. Dannel Malloy's point person on crime and now teaches at the University of New Haven. He says Stefanowski is balancing a tough tightrope. To win in November, he needs his conservative base, which opposes gun laws, but he also needs suburban parents worried about mass shootings.
"It's hard to have one foot in both camps," said Lawlor.
Ultimately, Lawlor thinks guns are a bigger issue in General Assembly races.
"There are some extreme gun people running for re-election or election to the legislature," he said. "And I'm sure in some of those races, this will be a bigger issue."
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday gives Lamont an eight-point lead over Stefanowski. An Emerson poll conducted for WTNH and The Hill a week earlier gave Lamont a 13-point edge.


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