A bill that law enforcement officials say will help keep illegal guns off Connecticut’s streets received bipartisan support late Friday evening from the Senate. Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, said the bill makes it illegal for gun owners not to report their guns lost or stolen within 72-hours. Any person who fails to report their gun lost or stolen will face a $500 fine, except if they intentionally failed to make the report within 72-hours it becomes a class A misdemeanor, the amendment to the bill says. McDonald and other senators saw the House bill 5818 that included this language was stalled in the House so they attached it to Senate bill 105 that prohibits the sale and delivery of “electronic defense weapons,” such as Tasers.
The amended bill passed 26 to 6. Four members were absent and those voting against the amended bill included Sen. David Cappiello, R-Danbury, Sen. Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, Sen. Catherine Cook, R-Mystic, Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, Sen. George Gunther, R-Stratford, and Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield.There was little discussion on the amendment and only a few questions on the underlying bill.Kissel said he voted against both the amendment and the bill because “there are already hundreds of laws on the books” regarding gun ownership. With all those laws, he said, he finds it hard to believe with all those laws that a police detective couldn’t catch someone with a history of losing firearms. But for the past six years law enforcement officials have traveled to the Capitol to tell legislators just the opposite. In March, West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci said that currently police are charged with getting guns away from people who cannot possess them legally. But, he said, when a gun used in a crime is traced back to its original owner, all that person has to do is claim that the weapon was stolen, and “we’re hard pressed to prove otherwise.“Since there is no requirement for reporting stolen guns, no prosecution is possible, Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano said at the same press conference in March. Morano said everyone including gun owners should support legislation like this because “it is not about gun control. It’s about responsible gun ownership.“Gov. M. Jodi Rell has also said publicly that she would support the original House bill that includes language similar to that in the amendment passed by the Senate on Friday. Now, with one week left in the session it will be passed down to the House where it died last year. Last year, the National Rifle Association sent lobbyists from Washington, D.C. to Connecticut to defeat the legislation. This year, according to state lobbyists, they’re here again.