HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 3/20) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bill to ban bump stocks may not have gotten a public hearing or a vote in the Public Safety and Security Committee, but the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony Friday on a similar bill.
“I can’t frankly understand how the committee failed to vote it out,” Malloy said Monday. “I think a lot of time has been spent on casinos and not enough time perhaps spent on this very big issue, which is overwhelmingly supported by the American people and overwhelmingly supported by the people of Connecticut.”
Malloy made the proposal in January before the start of the legislative session.
Bump stocks were used in the Las Vegas shooting where the shooter was able to fire an estimated 90 shots in 10 seconds.
Since the beginning of the year, Massachusetts, California, Washington, New Jersey and Florida have banned bump stocks on a bipartisan basis.
Malloy said his staff was told by staff of the Public Safety and Security Committee that they were going to refer the bill to the Judiciary Committee.
“If it happens in one committee, it can happen in two committees,” Malloy said.
Sen. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, co-chairs the Public Safety and Security Committee, said there was a consensus among his members that since the Judiciary Committee already had a bill there was no reason to move forward with a referral of the governor’s bill. He said it’s likely the bill the Judiciary Committee will take up will be referred back to Public Safety for a debate at a later date.
He said they were working on tight time constraints and Friday was their last meeting so they had to get a lot of work done.
“Florida’s, New Jersey’s, and Massachusetts’ bills were all signed by Republican governors,” Malloy noted. “I hope that members of the General Assembly will heed the call of countless students, teachers, and everyday people across Connecticut and across our nation, and find a way to pass this important legislation this year.”
Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence, Inc., said “It is alarming, in the wake of tragedies such as Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Parkland that the Public Safety Committee would not even vote on the measure. It is clear that the people of Connecticut, and the rest of the country, do not want bump stocks in our society.”
The decision not to vote on any gun related legislation isn’t new for the Public Safety and Security Committee. It was a practice they adopted last year too when the margins between Republicans and Democrats shrank to one.
Most of the gun-related legislation will be held again by the Judiciary Committee. Even though Democrats still hold a one vote margin over Republicans in that committee, it’s thought to be a friendlier committee for these types of debates.
The Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing 10 a.m. Friday on a bill to ban bump stocks.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League says it’s feel good legislation since these devices can be made with common household items. Not to mention Connecticut already bans certain firearms and limits magazine capacities so it renders such devices ineffective. The group has said the devices are not commonly owned by legal gun owners.
“The language in both the Governor’s Bill and the Judiciary Bill is vague enough that normal trigger function, or routine work conducted by a certified gunsmith could potentially be considered a criminal act,” Scott Wilson, president of CCDL, said. “If the intent was to simply ban bumpstocks, the Judiciary Committee took the long way to get there. This bill could imperil many legal gun owners that do not care about the devices in question.”
CCDL had a display last week in the tunnel between the Legislative Office Building and the state Capitol to educate lawmakers about the devices.