Gun Reforms Proposed in Connecticut 2023
Mayors in Connecticut are aiming to reduce gun violence in their cities by focusing on those who perpetrate offenses with firearms multiple times.
By targeting repeat gun offenders, they hope to curb the increasing rate of such incidents.
Connecticut mayors, members of law enforcement, and other officials recently gathered to discuss strategies for reducing gun violence in cities across the state.
The recommendations, which were the result of a task force created by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities in 2022, focus on increasing accountability for those who commit repeat offenses related to firearms.
Mayor Justin Elicker of New Haven noted that gun crimes in Connecticut are largely committed by individuals with a history of prior offenses, and highlighted the need to ensure these offenders face appropriate consequences.
The proposals include increasing bail requirements for those charged with serious firearm offenses, as well as immediate jail time for any parolee who commits a similar offense.
These recommendations aim to provide greater protection and security for all Connecticut cities.
Patrick Griffin, New Haven’s chief state’s attorney, stated that based on the arrest data of the last two years, those with a prior conviction of criminal possession of a firearm are at higher risk of committing shootings.
He added that when compared to someone with no criminal record, these gun offenders have much greater chances of getting arrested for shooting-related crimes.
During the event, there were families who had been affected by gun violence and Laquavia Jones was one of them – she had lost two sons to gun violence.
Jones expressed her support for the tools proposed by lawmakers that would make it more difficult for offenders who have committed multiple crimes to be out on the street.
Through speaking for not only herself, but also for all survivors of homicide, she made it clear that such measures must be put in place to send a message of intolerance towards violent offenders and the
danger they pose to their communities.
The bills proposed by Governor Lamont are part of a larger statewide effort to combat crime and gun violence prevention.
Jones believes that implementing more stringent tools is an important step towards creating a safer environment for all Connecticut residents.
Governor Lamont’s set of reforms targeted at curbing mass shootings, as well as community and domestic gun violence, suicides, and accidental shootings was the focus of his legislative agenda
after he won re-election on a platform for stronger gun laws.
The package proposed by Democrats on the committee would also help police investigations of gun violence and crack down on repeat criminals.
On the other hand, Republicans put forward amendments to existing gun laws that would eliminate the discretion of local police to issue temporary gun permits and remove the restriction on
handguns in state parks and forests.
With Democrats controlling both chambers of the General Assembly, Lamont will need their support for any measures to pass.
The package includes several elements aimed at tackling gun violence in Connecticut.
Increasing minimum ages
Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed a bill that would raise the minimum age for purchasing any type of firearm, including long-guns and shotguns, to 21 years old.
At present, Connecticut law only stipulates those aged 21 and above may obtain a certificate to purchase handguns.
Active members of law enforcement or military personnel are exempt from this age restriction due to the necessity of their duties.
In addition, a bill tabled by the Judiciary Committee seeks to raise the minimum age for buying ammunition to 21 years old and prohibits individuals other than military or law enforcement
personnel from possessing or selling body armor.
The proposed bill from Lamont would put a 10-day wait on all gun purchases, beginning once the seller is given approval from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
This law exempts sales of hunting rifles, shotguns or other long guns, however it restricts licensed dealers from selling no more than one pistol or revolver to an individual in a 30-day period.
Exchanges that are reported to DESPP would also be excluded from the regulation.
Safety and Training
The governor’s bill seeks to make a series of changes to the Gun Reforms that exist in Connecticut.
This includes Ethan’s Law, which requires gun owners to store their firearms securely around children, and demands that all guns must be sold with trigger locks for safety.
Furthermore, semi-automatic handguns must come with devices that show when a round is in the chamber and prevent any accidental firing when a magazine is withdrawn.
The bill also prohibits anyone from transporting loaded long-guns in their vehicle.
As part of his efforts to strengthen training requirements, Lamont’s plan requires a minimum four hours of instruction, including two hours of live fire practice for all gun permit applicants.
This surpasses the state’s current requirement, which does not set an hour limit.
Permits to sell firearms
Starting October 1st, a new state permit to sell firearms will be required by those who sell 10 or more guns in a year.
Besides that, the Commissioner of DESPP (Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection) has been given the authority to enforce punishments like levying a fine up to $25,000
and revoking or suspending a dealer’s license for not following federal regulations, such as refusing to cooperate with law enforcement or failing to conduct a proper background check on a gun purchaser.
These reforms are part of Connecticut’s effort to enhance its gun control laws.
The governor’s bill seeks to limit open carry of firearms by prohibiting people from displaying a gun in public, such as through a hip holster, so it would be visible to others.
Pistol Permits issued by state and local authorities would still allow individuals to conceal handguns, yet certain areas with alcohol served would be exempt unless the owner lives or works there.
The law also gives police the ability to stop people suspected of concealed carry in order to verify their permit is valid, and agencies must record and report data on these stops along with the
race and gender of those stopped.
In 2019, Connecticut lawmakers and Gov. Lamont passed a law banning unserialized, unregistered firearms (known as “ghost guns”), but included an exemption for weapons already in existence at the time.
This has made it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute suspected violations due to the absence of proof that the weapons were manufactured after the law took effect.
To strengthen the effectiveness of this law, Lamont has proposed removing the grandfather clause and requiring all existing ghost guns to be registered with the state by Jan. 1, 2024 or later in certain cases
like those owned by military personnel deployed out of the country.
In addition, new sales or distribution of any weapon without a serial number would be prohibited, except in cases of bequest to an individual upon the owner’s death.
In Connecticut, there is a long-standing and comprehensive ban on military-style weapons which was first implemented in 1994.
This ban has been amended several times, but does not affect rimfire rifles that have fewer than two features defined by the law.
The latest bill proposed by Lamont would enforce registration of pre-ban guns, along with certain rimfires and weapons designed to bypass the initial ban, and make it illegal to buy or distribute such weapons.
Illegal possession of large-capacity magazines (which can hold more than 10 rounds) would be regulated as a Class D felony with a possible one to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fine.
The Judiciary Committee has proposed a measure to assess the practicability of microstamping, a technology which utilizes a gun’s firing pin to create a unique code on the bullet casing when fired.
Advocates argue that this code can be used by law enforcement to easily solve gun-related crimes, however detractors contest it is ineffectual and can be bypassed by criminals.
The Democratic bill mandates the Commissioner of DESPP to investigate the suitability of the technology, and if suitable, require licensed dealers in Connecticut to equip semi-automatic handguns
with it within four years.
If it fails to meet requirements, then there will be no requirement for its use.