HARTFORD, CT — A Second Amendment position has already cost one Republican attorney general candidate an endorsement from Connecticut’s premiere gun rights group, and it’s likely to continue to be part of the discussion through the November election.
The issue — how the government regulates 3D printed guns, also known as ghost guns because they are untraceable — has catapulted its way into the 2018 election in Connecticut and across the country.
Sue Hatfield, the Republican Party’s endorsed candidate for attorney general, released a statement last week saying she agreed with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s decision to join a lawsuit against the federal government to stop a Texas nonprofit from publishing blueprints for 3D-printed guns on the internet.
“3D-printed firearms are not only unnecessary but will make our communities and state less safe,” Hatfield said. “Preventing 3D-printed firearms shouldn’t be a political issue and instead of politicians trying to divide us we should work together to find a way to stop criminals, gangs, and terrorists from getting the blueprints to print 3D-printed firearms.”
Hatfield continued, “President Donald Trump announced earlier today that he is ‘looking into 3D plastic guns being sold to the public.’ I believe action is required by our President and he should place a nationwide ban on 3D-printed guns.”
As the next Attorney General of Connecticut, Hatfield said she will work with the legislature to pass legislation banning 3D-printed guns.
“The Democrat majority failed to get legislation passed last session to prevent this in Connecticut,” added Hatfield. “Representative William Tong and Senator Paul Doyle want to blame President Trump but their party is in control and should have been able to get their leadership to call the legislation for a vote. I will do what they couldn’t do as legislators and keep our communities safe.”
In light of Hatfield’s comments, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League issued a statement withdrawing its endorsement of her candidacy.
“While we still feel she would make a far better Attorney General than any of the other candidates in the race, we simply cannot endorse the recent comments she’s made,” the group said. “While CCDL does the best job that it can with regards to vetting candidates, ultimately it is up to each of them to defend the 2nd Amendment in the face of political pressure from other candidates, or from media inquiries.”
However, while Second Amendment supporters make up part of the Republican Party’s base, but Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said he doesn’t believe it will be a factor.
“I think the biggest issue for the state of Connecticut is our economy,” Romano said Friday. “We’re in a $2 billion hole.”
He said the Democrats are the only people who want to make the Attorney General contest a one-issue race.
The State Police said there are 265,563 pistol permit holders in Connecticut.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who isn’t up for re-election this year, joined Friday with law enforcement and organizations like Connecticut Against Gun Violence and the Newtown Action Alliance at the Citadel of Love Church in Hartford to call upon Congress to ban 3D-printed guns and other “ghost” guns, like those which are shipped in kits for do-it-yourself assembly.
“Right now many of these designs and blueprints are out there,” Blumenthal said. “We can’t stop them. That’s why I am proposing a ban, an outright prohibition on these untraceable guns.”
Cody Wilson, the self-described anarchist whose Texas nonprofit wants to release the blueprints for the 3D printable guns, says stopping his attempt to publish violates his First Amendment rights.
Blumenthal said no right is “absolute.”
“If yelling fire in a crowded movie house is illegal, making untraceable and undetectable guns has to be as well,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said he hopes to have bipartisan support for his proposed ban, but he doesn’t believe there will be a vote until September. He’s hoping the court will continue the restraining order until that time. He said the court order will limit the widespread availability of the blueprints, even though some were downloaded earlier this week.
Hartford Assistant Chief of Police Rafael Medina III said he hasn’t seen one of the 3D printed guns on the streets of Hartford yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
“The ingenuity is really unlimited. The only way to stop these guns is to make them illegal,” Blumenthal said.
Connecticut’s General Assembly failed to pass legislation earlier this year that would have banned these type of homemade, untraceable guns.
Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, is circulating a letter trying to get a majority of his colleagues in the House and the Senate to come back into special session to pass the legislation they failed to pass before the May 9 adjournment.
“Allowing these guns to be produced by criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers or anyone who can access the information is a major threat to public safety,” Fleischmann said. “We cannot wait for the Trump administration to act. It has already shown it is captive to the NRA. We in Connecticut must take a stand and act now at the state level — which we have the power to do.”
Fleischmann has 30 days to collect the signatures of his colleagues.
Jillian Gilchrest, Fleischmann’s Democratic primary opponent, said she’s surprised that he would take such an initiative since he didn’t co-sponsor the legislation during the session earlier this year.
“I’m surprised that Representative Fleischmann would call his colleagues into a special session — which would cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars, when he didn’t even co-sponsor a bill during the 2018 legislative session to ban ghost guns. This is just one in a long list of examples where Representative Fleischmann missed his opportunity to lead. Voters should see his call for a special session as nothing more than a political ploy at taxpayer expense,” Gilchrest said.