Connecticut House approves major gun control bill as Republicans blast attack on 'citizens' rights'
Published in News & Features
HARTFORD, Conn. — One day after the one-year anniversary of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Connecticut legislators passed the state’s most comprehensive gun-control package since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings more than a decade ago.
After a debate that lasted 3 1/2 hours, the state House of Representatives voted 96-51 on a bipartisan basis as seven Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the measure, which now heads to the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
Pushed by Gov. Ned Lamont and Democratic legislators, the controversial measure would ban the “open carry” of guns in public, limit purchases of handguns to three per month per person, increase penalties for failing to report that a gun was stolen, and update pistol permit training requirements. The 93-page bill also expands safe storage requirements and mandates state police to adopt a mass shooting response plan that includes the use of counselors regarding the psychological impacts.
The bill also mandates registration of all “ghost guns,” which are handmade weapons that have no serial numbers and that can be constructed with parts and instructions that are available over the internet or with 3D printers. The new restriction would apply to ghost guns that were manufactured before 2019, while the newer ones were already covered under current law.
The purchasing restriction to three handguns per month is designed to reduce “straw” purchases in which an individual might buy 20 guns and then sell them on the streets — often to convicted criminals who are not eligible to purchase guns legally due to their criminal record.
State Rep. Steven Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat who co-chairs the judiciary committee, said the bill is important because the United States has “more gun violence and more gun deaths than any civilized country in the world.” He predicted that the measure “will save lives” by restricting various aspects of guns.
“Are we going to stop all gun violence in the state of Connecticut because of this bill? Of course not,” Stafstrom said on the House floor. “Yes, gun violence is still going to plague our state even after we pass this bill. … The next mass shooting is going to happen in America. … But thoughts and prayers are not enough. … We need to act. We’re taking action.”
Rep. Greg Howard, a Republican who has served as a police officer for more than 20 years in his hometown of Stonington, said the final bill was significantly improved since its original version due to bipartisan efforts by Lamont, Democrats, and Republicans.
“They kept politics largely out of it,” said Howard, who voted against the measure that he described as “a bit of government overreach” overall. “There’s not a great correlation between gun restrictions and gun crime.”
Lamont, who was unable to pass gun restrictions last year during a short legislative session in an election year, praised the move immediately after passage.
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