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A controversial bill that would allow a police officer to ask a person for their gun permit cleared its first hurdle Thursday.

The Public Safety and Security Committee approved the measure 16-9 after revising some of the language.

Rep. Daniel Rovero, D-Dayville, said he was against the bill originally, but the language was updated to make sure law enforcement could only ask to see a permit if the pistol or revolver was visible to them.

If a person is carrying a gun outwardly and doesn’t have a permit they’ve “gotta be some sort of jackass,” Rovero said.

“The constitution protects jackasses also,” Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, R-Stafford Springs, said.

Guglielmo said it’s a constitutional issue. He said if the General Assembly enacts this legislation it will be like “hitting a flea with a sledgehammer.”

He said there are people who will try to provoke police by parading around with their guns, but “I think we should back-off.”

Sen. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, said a person will only be required to show their permit if they are openly exposing it to the public view.

Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, said people today are “scared” and sometimes they don’t know what the law says. He said there’s a number of reasons people are asked to show identification and this is just one more.

But Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, said he doesn’t believe this new language will change anything.

“I think this is about the Fourth Amendment,” Miner said.

But Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, said he has no problem with showing a police officer his gun permit.

“I think it’s a courtesy,” D’Amelio said.

The bill is headed to the House.