Christine Stuart photo
Proponents of the legislation, like Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven (pictured), say it will close a loophole in state gun laws. Opponents say the state has enough gun laws on the books. Looney said the bill, similar to one which failed last year in the House, would require gun owners to report their firearms lost or stolen within a reasonable amount of time after the gun is discovered missing. Law enforcement officials say the legislation will help keep illegal guns off Connecticut’s streets and out of the hands of criminals.
New Haven Police Chief Franciso Ortiz Jr., who has seen a number shooting deaths over the past year involving youth, said “as a city and state we should do everything we can to save our children.” He said in order to do that this legislation chooses to engage with law abiding citizens to report their guns lost or stolen. Last year’s legislation made it a Class A misdemeanor for a legal gun owner to fail to report their gun lost or stolen. While this year’s penalty is undetermined, Ortiz said in order to get compliance there has to be consequences. Senator Andrea Stillman, D-New London, said even in the small city of New London gun crimes are on the rise. “Guns are just too easy to get, it appears,” Stillman said. She said this isn’t legislation taking guns away from law abiding gun owners, it’s for those who acquired the guns illegally. Looney called for a few additions to last year’s legislation. The additions are as follows, require licensed dealers to report lost or stolen firearms, limit residents one handgun purchase per month, require a handgun permit to purchase and possess handgun ammunition, punish “straw purchases” of ammunition and require a license to sell ammunition.But does the legislature have the will to pass it this year when Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford voted against it last year?State Rep. Tony Walker, D-New Haven said “the caucus is going to make this happen.” She said if it has the support of caucus members, “the speaker will stand behind us on the issue.” That means even if Amann doesn’t necessarily agree with the legislation, he will allow the bill to be debated on the floor. Last year’s debate lasted close to three hours. Following last year’s vote, Amann said he’s a member of the National Rifle Association even though he doesn’t own a gun or hunt. “I support the constitution,” Amann said after the 66 to 79 vote.