Christine Stuart photo
Shortly after midnight and after more than four hours of debate the House passed a bill that will require gun owners to report their guns lost or stolen within 72-hours of discovering them missing.

The House passed the bill 94 to 56 after more than a handful of amendments were called. Click here for the vote tally. The Senate already passed it 24 to 11 so it now goes to the governor’s desk for approval.

Last year Gov. M. Jodi Rell had indicated she would sign a similar bill even though she didn’t know how much of a difference it would make.

Proponents of the bill, like Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said he thinks the bill will make a significant difference in reducing the amount of gun violence that city’s like New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport experience. He said anything law enforcement can do to interrupt the supply of guns is important.

Opponents of the bill, like Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, said they didn’t think this bill is really going to curb gun violence. Instead, it would punish legal gun owners, he said.

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, who brought the bill out said this bill has been requested by the law enforcement community for years. He said when a gun turns up in a crime and the police trace it back to its legal owner, the owner can say “Oops, I must have lost it,” and there’s nothing law enforcement can do.

He said the person whose gun ends up missing repeatedly is either trading the gun for drugs or selling it illegally to people like convicted felons who are not allowed to have guns. At the moment law enforcement has no ability to go after these guys, and this bill would “plug the loophole,” Lawlor said.

So why did it take so many years to get passed in both chambers?

Looney said it was important that “it became a bipartisan bill,” this year.

Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southport, worked on a compromise to lower the penalty on the first offense to an infraction, so that gun owners would not lose their pistol permit. If they truly lost the gun or had it stolen and didn’t report it, then the first offense comes with no criminal penalties, he said.

But the second and third offense have steeper penalties because “We really do want to get at gun trafficking,” he said.