The lost and stolen firearms amendment that proponents of the bill said would close a loophole in state gun laws was defeated Friday, April 28 by 13 votes in the House of Representatives. After almost three hours of debate in the House today the amendment died in a 66 to 79 vote before it was tabled.Opponents of the bill including Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, said the state has enough gun laws on the books and doesn’t need anymore. Amann used last week’s arrest of Frank D’Andrea as an example of “how it all works.”
D’Andrea, the owner of Guns & Safes Unlimited in Milford, was arrested and charged with federal firearm violations after a lengthy investigation by Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco Inspectors, according to the US State Attorney Kevin O’Connor. There were 157 guns listed on the store’s logs as “missing,” but investigators found “83 of them had actually been sold by D’Andrea without being reported and the required logs,” O’Connor said. “74 are still unaccounted for.“Amann said he’s proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association that sent lobbyists from Washington DC to defeat the legislation even though he doesn’t own a gun and doesn’t hunt. “I support the constitution,” Amann said. Proponent of the legislation Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said he’s spoken with many law abiding gun owners who said they would report their guns stolen, just like they would report their car stolen. But the “should know or should have known” language in the bill received fierce opposition from opponents of the legislation. “Is it not illegal already to own guns you haven’t acquired legally?” Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, said. “Not exactly,” Lawlor said. He said if you owned a gun before 1994 then you can possess a pistol without a permit in your home. DelGobbo said, ‘I don’t agree with the bill because I don’t think it would solve the problem.” Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, said the 72-hour time period a gun owner has to report a gun stolen isn’t enough and “would make decent people criminals.” She said if the bill passed it would mean a legal gun owner in Hartford, who did not know their gun was stolen would be arrested, then would have to post bail and hire an attorney. She said instead, “let’s put the money where the problem is,” and do a study of the problem or enforce the $500 penalty of class A misdemeanor only after the third time a gun a reported lost or stolen. She said her opposition to the bill was not motivated by Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s support for the bill. Perez is her political nemesis. In the end, Gonzalez was one of six that abstained from a vote on the bill. Hartford Rep. Kenneth Green said it is the legislature’s responsibility to promote health options and advocate responsibility and this bill advocates responsibility. “We have to do something the curb the possession of guns by those who should not have them.“But with no vehicle left and less than four days left until the end of the legislative session Green and the bill’s other proponents will have to wait until next year.