Thousands weigh in on Gov. Ned Lamont’s gun control proposal

Despite some of the nation's strictest gun laws, police told lawmakers that Connecticut is still flooded with illegal weapons.

John Craven

Mar 6, 2023, 10:32 PM

Updated 443 days ago

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A legislative hearing grew tense Monday on Gov. Ned Lamont’s sweeping gun control proposal – the toughest since the Sandy Hook shooting. Approximately 5,000 people submitted written testimony, with more than 150 speaking directly to state lawmakers.
Despite some of the nation's strictest gun laws, police told lawmakers that Connecticut is still flooded with illegal weapons.
“Our officers have recovered 218 guns off the streets of Waterbury in 2022,” said Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo. “Of those guns, 22 were ‘ghost guns.’”
Gun control advocates said Connecticut’s laws have too many loopholes.
“We must strengthen the current safe storage and 'ghost gun' regulations in our state,” said Laura Kabel of Bridgeport, with the group Moms Demand Action.
But gun owners said the bill will do little to curb illegal weapons.
“The bill targets law-abiding gun owners, not criminals,” Zackery Mele told lawmakers.
Lamont’s wide-ranging proposal includes:

• Handgun purchases limited to one per month
• New 10-day waiting period
• Family violence crime disqualifier to obtain a pistol permit
• Long gun purchase age raised to 21
• All “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms assembled from a kit, must be registered (Currently, older weapons are exempt)
• Expanded safe storage law
• Higher penalties for possessing a high-capacity magazine
• Expanding assault weapons ban to include guns made before 1994 and those modified to avoid Connecticut’s existing ban
“There's a lot of gun peddlers out there, are trying to sell these things and trying to work around our system every day,” Lamont said on Jan. 26.
Lamont also wants to ban “open carry” of pistols, but one crime victim from Tennessee said a similar law left her defenseless.
“[The shooter] pulled a .45 from a shoulder holster under his jacket and shot my husband and killing him,” Nikki Goeser of Nashville testified remotely. “I was disarmed and helpless to stop his attack.”
Other critics said Connecticut does a poor job of prosecuting existing gun laws.
“There was a female from Connecticut that was convicted of straw purchasing numerous firearms – brought them into Connecticut; they were used in crimes,” said Jake McGuigan with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown. “Basically, should have had a federal sentence of 10 years. She was given three years' supervised probation.”
Monday’s hearing drew sharp exchanges between two conservative lawmakers and the Judiciary Committee co-chair, state Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven). Reps. Doug Dubitsky (R-Chaplin) and Craig Fishbein (R-Wallingford) are challenging Connecticut’s current assault weapons ban in court.
The future of Lamont’s proposal is unclear. He proposed some items last year, including a crackdown on “ghost guns,” but lawmakers dropped them from his crime prevention bill.


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