A Connecticut gun rights group is planning to rally at the state Capitol building on Sept. 30, the day before elements of a new firearms law go into effect and largely prohibit openly carrying a gun in public.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League has organized the 11 a.m. event to “publicly display our support for the 2nd Amendment, and to empower our membership for the road ahead,” according to its website.
“With the passage of HB6667, The 2023 Assault Weapons Ban, 9/30/23 is the last day for legal gunowners to lawfully open carry (for now) in the state of Connecticut,” the group said. “CCDL was started by a group that included some that open carried, and wanted to preserve that right for those who were wrongfully being charged with breach of peace for exercising that right. Join us at the Capitol grounds to celebrate with us the legacy that open carry has left in Connecticut.”
The 102-page new law includes a number of changes to Connecticut firearm policies, including raising the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21 and expanding the state’s existing assault weapons ban as well as provisions designed to accelerate the prosecution of repeat gun offenders.
The law also prohibits people from knowingly carrying a gun with the intent to display it in public. The policy does not apply to residents on their own property or if they are engaged in firearm training or hunting activities. It also includes exemptions for certain law enforcement and military personnel.
The group’s website describes the Sept. 30 rally as a family-friendly event and advises attendees against bringing weapons into nearby Bushnell Park, where they are already prohibited, or unholstering a weapon on Capitol grounds.
“Be courteous with your conduct with the public and the media: your actions reflect our organization and the opposition wants to see the worst of us,” the group’s website said. It also urged attendees to treat Capitol police officers with professionalism.
Holly Sullivan, CCDL’s president, did not respond to a request left Friday for comment on this story.
“The new prohibition on open carry is not about curtailing Second Amendment rights, it’s actually about protecting the the First Amendment rights of others from being intimidated by the conspicuous display of firearms,” Jeremy Stein, executive director of CT Against Gun Violence, said.
“Other provisions in the bill also address keeping our familes safe, such as strengthening our safe storage laws. Requiring firearms to be secured regardless of who resides in a home will help to reduce community gun violence, theft, domestic violence and firearm suicide.”
Gun rights supporters have amassed at the state Capitol a number of times since Connecticut policymakers redoubled efforts to tighten the state’s firearm policies in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.