Less than three minutes before the Legislative Commissioner’s Office closed Monday at 5 p.m., the Judiciary Committee submitted a bill that would create penalties for gun owners who fail to report their firearms lost or stolen within 72-hours. State Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said new language was added to better define the standard that must be met in order for gun owners to be prosecuted under the law. He said in order for a gun owner to be prosecuted, law enforcement would have to prove criminal negligence. For example, someone leaves four or five guns in the back seat of their car in plain view and someone steals them and uses them in a crime. He said obviously the guns were not secured properly and the owner could be charged by police with negligence, which doesn’t happen now, he said. At the moment, law enforcement can trace a gun back to its last legal owner and the person can say, “It must have been stolen,” he said.
State Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, said, “I’m concerned about the ‘should have known’ standard.” For example, when I was driving up here today I thought my glasses were in one place and when I looked for them, I discovered they were somewhere else, he said.But Lawlor said, “I think we made it clear we’re not talking about that situation.” State Rep. David Labriola, R-Naugatuck, said he was concerned about the gun owner who goes away on vacation for a week and has their firearm stolen while they’re away. Lawlor said the 72-hours starts when they discover the guns lost or stolen. “It’s from whenever you knew or should have known,” Lawlor added.Labriola, O’Neill, Rep. Lenny Winkler, R-Groton, Rep. William Hamzy, R-Terryville, Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, Rep. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, and Rep. Jeff Berger, D-Waterbury, voted against the bill. Besides Doyle, the rest of the legislators who voted against the bill have A+ ratings from the National Rifle Association, according to information provided by the Connecticut Against Gun Violence advocacy group. Doyle holds a B+ rating.State Rep. Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, who also has an A+ NRA rating, voted in favor of the bill because he felt it included a “reasonable standard.“Last year, a similar bill was passed by the Senate, but was never called and thus died in the House. It’s unknown if it will pass this year, but Department of Public Safety Commissioner Len Boyle said last week that Gov. M. Jodi Rell will support the legislation.