Lawmakers have proposed nearly a dozen bills concerning gun control so far this session. The proposals include both efforts tighten and ease Connecticut’s regulation of firearms.
The legislature generally declined to take up gun policy during last year’s short, election year session as major elements of the sweeping post-Sandy Hook gun regulation law were still taking effect. But individual lawmakers are permitted to propose bills during longer, odd-year sessions and several have taken the opportunity this year to call for changes to state gun laws.
Of the proposals, the most likely to see passage is a bill changing how courts respond when a gun owner becomes the subject of a temporary restraining order.
The bill would remove firearms from recipients of temporary restraining orders rather than waiting until a hearing before a judge to remove the weapons. The goal is to protect the person who filed for the order, particularly in domestic violence cases.
Last year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he would back the proposal and Rep. Mary Fritz, D-Yalesville, has filed the bill. The legislation has some bipartisan support. Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, a retired police officer, has introduced similar legislation, which includes a provision for the gun owner to transfer the weapon to another eligible person rather than a court.
Other proposals seeking to ease or repeal state gun control restrictions will face an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, has filed several such bills. They include efforts to scrap the 2013 gun control law, establish a law protecting people who use deadly force to stop a home intruder, and to change a law that prohibits people with permits to carry pistols from carrying them in state parks.
The latter proposal has been a priority for state gun rights advocates. In 2013, Malloy asked for public comment on an effort by his administration to eliminate “obsolete, duplicative, and excessively burdensome” regulations. The more 1,200 pages of public comment collected by the administration were flooded with gun owners asking to carry handguns in state parks. That law was not among the regulations eliminated in a bill last year.
Sampson has also proposed an income tax credit for people who purchase gun safes and a bill prohibiting towns and the governor from restricting gun possession “during a civil preparedness emergency.”
Two other bills proposed this year would create links between Connecticut’s pistol permit requirements and those of other states.
One bill, proposed by Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, calls for an agreement to honor carry permits from states that have similar requirements to obtain a permit.
Another bill, proposed by Rep. Livvy Floren, R-Greenwich, would block people from obtaining a pistol permit in Connecticut if they’ve been convicted of a crime in another state that would have made them ineligible. In many cases, crimes committed in other states can already prevent someone from obtaining a permit in Connecticut.
Advocates on both sides of the issue are hoping to their causes will gain ground this year.
Ron Pinciaro, president of CT Voters for Gun Safety, said his organization is supporting the legislation on temporary restraining orders and also is looking for a bill on the safe storage of firearms.
“We feel that it’s important to tighten that up in every way we can to prevent people from getting access to weapons who may cause damage to themselves or others,” he said. “We’re very happy about the results we’ve seen in reductions in gun homicides in the last couple of years. We’d like to see that trend continue.”
Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said his group supports many of the bills Sampson has proposed this year. He said his organization also supports Dubitsky’s bill on reciprocity agreements with other states.
“That’s a fair bill. A lot of states out there already share reciprocity with each other,” he said.
Wilson said he had “realistic expectations” about his priorities for the session given the makeup of the legislature and the governor’s support of firearm regulation.
“We’d like to see at least public hearings on some of those bills and an opportunity for them to go to the floor would be great,” he said. “A lot of damage has been done and maybe it’s time the state starts respecting our rights as citizens of Connecticut.”
Click here for a list of all the legislation related to firearms in Connecticut so far this year from TrackBill.