Rep. Stephen Dargan of West Haven doesn’t back down from a fight. When people call and leave threatening messages he calls them back.
By Friday at 2 p.m. he had about 70 messages on his home answering machine in response to his proposal to make the names and addresses of gun permit holders public. That information has been confidential since 1994.
“Everytime you try to expand Freedom of Information statutes everybody goes nuts,” Dargan said Friday.
But he’s not fazed by the opposition to the bill. “I’m used to it,” Dargan said. “I’ve been a representative for a very long time.”
Dargan was elected to the House in 1990.
As chair of the Public Safety Committee, Dargan deals with law enforcement on a regular basis. But he said he hasn’t felt compelled to call any police officers to inform them of the phone messages.
Dargan let CTNewsJunkie listen to one of the angry calls from a gun enthusiast.
“You need to stop this please,” the caller said. “This has gone too far.”
The male caller described the legislation as a “hate crime” against gun owners.
Dargan, whose home phone is publicly listed, calls many of the callers back and talks to them if their number shows up on caller ID. He said they may not agree, but they seem to reach an understanding.
“I’m a middle-of-the-road guy,” Dargan said.
The fear being expressed by many of the callers is that if the information is made public they will become targets for criminals who will try to steal their guns, according to Rich Burgess, president of Connecticut Carry.
“You have the people who have a permit and potentially own firearms who do not want to be victims of crime (which is likely why they have the permit in the first place) who are put at risk when their address is put online with essentially a sign that says ‘firearms here’,” Burgess said last week.
He said he can’t see any good coming out of releasing the information.
“There are 170,000-plus pistol permit holders in Connecticut and the vast, vast majority do nothing to harm anyone each day,” Burgess said. “So telling people where those people live as if they are threats to the community would accomplish what precisely?”
Dargan said there’s public information about all types of things from what kind of dog someone may own to how much their home is worth. The computer age has only increased the amount of information that’s out there.
He said he introduced the legislation so it could be part of the gun control discussion prompted by the Newtown school shooting.