Critical news of interest to our readers.

Often we hear “criminals don’t follow laws” as the reason for opposing gun laws and “just enforce the laws we have” for not strengthening the laws we have. So here are three recent examples where the existence and enforcement of Connecticut’s strong gun laws very likely saved lives.

Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) prevents possible mass shooting
Just days after the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, a young man from Norwalk called his aunt in New Hampshire, telling her that he was making an assault rifle and wanted to use her address so he could ship high-capacity magazines to her, since they are illegal in Connecticut. 

Knowing her nephew’s troubled history, the woman contacted the Norwalk police. Following an investigation that established a strong presumption that he was at imminent risk of harming people, a judge issued a “risk warrant” allowing law enforcement to remove firearms from the individual’s residence. Police found hundreds of rounds of ammunition, multiple firearms, a hand grenade and four 30-round magazines. The man was charged with four counts of illegal purchase of a high-capacity magazine. Read the full story here.

Gun trafficker sent to prison for seven years
Learning that a former Bridgeport man was advertising his willingness to sell firearms he purchased (illegally) in Georgia, the ATF set up a sting operation. The man was arrested because he was a convicted felon and thus prohibited from possessing firearms.

Earlier this month the man was sentenced to seven years in prison. He admitted to selling at least 30 guns in Bridgeport (most likely, not to “law abiding” gun owners). The case was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program aimed at reducing community violence. Because Georgia has notoriously weak gun laws, it is much easier for prohibited individuals to buy guns there than in Connecticut, further evidence that gun laws work. Read the full story here.

Arrested for leaving an unsecured handgun in a vehicle. 
A Stamford gun owner left an unsecured gun in his unlocked car on the night of September 30 from where it was later stolen. Under the measure that CAGV supporters helped to pass just this year, which came into effect the very next day on October 1, the man was charged with a misdemeanor count of unsafe storage of a gun in a motor vehicle. Read the full story here.

Smart gun laws save lives and our laws are being enforced.

 

Smart Gun Laws Save Lives

 

In the aftermath of last weekend’s mass shooting in Gilroy, CA by a teen who legally purchased an assault rifle in Nevada, it’s clear that people living in states with strong gun laws are at the mercy of weak gun laws in other states and at the federal level. While that’s true, strong state-level gun laws do save lives.

Connecticut is consistently ranked as having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation (now #3, we’ve been in the top 5 since 2010); that’s what helps us have one of the lowest rates of gun deaths (5th lowest in the country.)

Among the 10 top states with the strongest gun laws, seven also have the lowest rates of gun deaths. Conversely, the 10 states with the highest gun death rates are all graded “F” by the Giffords Law Center on the strength of their gun laws.

These are some of the key gun regulations in Connecticut and how they help to protect us against gun violence:

Permits are required to buy firearms; they require fingerprinting, a criminal background check and an approved firearm safety class. A study found that gun homicides in Connecticut dropped 40% in the 10 years following implementation of permit-to-purchase (but no reduction in homicide by other means).

Background checks are required for all firearm purchases, including private sales. Since taking effect nationally in 1994, criminal background checks have stopped more than 3 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers including felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals. In states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.

Firearms must be securely stored at home and in unattended vehicles. Keeping guns out of the hands of unauthorized users prevents unintentional shootings, teen suicide, gun theft and school shootings. Over 80% of child firearm suicides and 75% of school shootings use a gun belonging to a family member.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders allow firearms to be removed when there is an imminent risk of harm to the gun owner or others. Connecticut was the first state to implement ERPO and it has been credited with reducing suicide, one for every 10 to 20 ERPO warrants issued.

Permits are required to carry handguns in public; these permits allow gun owners to carry the gun openly or concealed. Connecticut is one of only eight “may issue” states where local law enforcement has the discretion to deny permits to carry in public. States that loosened restrictions on concealed carry permits, so-called “right to carry” states, saw violent crime rates increase. According to one study, RTC laws were associated with a 10% higher murder rate 10 years following the adoption of RTC laws.

The sale of assault weapons, large capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds), bump stocks and “ghost” guns are all banned in Connecticut. Mass shootings using LCMs result in twice as many fatalities and 14 times as many injuries compared to those without. In 2019 a Bridgeport man was sentenced to federal prison for selling untraceable machine guns assembled at home; some were sold to convicted felons.

Lost or stolen guns must be reported within 72 hours to local law enforcement. Reporting cuts down on gun owners who sell guns illegally, and later claim they were lost or stolen when recovered at crime scenes and traced back to them.

These are just some of the gun safety measures in place to protect our communities from gun violence, most of which CT Against Gun Violence has led the way on passing since its founding in 1993. You can find a comprehensive list of Connecticut firearm regulations here.

CT Against Gun Violence applauds state Senate lawmakers who joined their House counterparts in passing three gun safety bills on a bi-partisan basis. This marks the first time in history that the legislature has passed three separate bills in the same legislative session. CAGV commends the efforts of the Senators who championed the bill, including Senate President Martin Looney, Majority Leader Bob Duff, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and Senate Judiciary Chair Gary Winfield. 

Jeremy Stein, Executive Director of CT Against Gun Violence said, “The large and bi-partisan majorities that voted for stronger safe storage requirements and to ban ghost guns is a victory for the people of Connecticut.” Stein noted, “The historic action of passing three important bills in one session reflects that voters in Connecticut want legislators to pass tough, but common-sense, measures to keep Connecticut safe from gun violence.” He continued, “Legislators took decisive action because they know these measures will prevent gun deaths from unintentional shootings, criminal activity, mass shootings and suicide by keeping guns out of the hands of unauthorized users.” Governor Lamont is on record supporting all three bills.

With record-setting bi-partisan and virtually unanimous support “Ethan’s Law” passed 34-2. HB-7218 requires all firearms, loaded or unloaded, to be securely stored when minors under age 18 are in the home. Under current law, only loaded firearms need to be secured, and only if children in the home are below age 16. The Senate also passed HB-7223 with bi-partisan support, 20-15. The bill prohibits unsecured handguns from being left in unattended vehicles. With this measure, Connecticut will become one of fewer than 10 states to require firearms in unattended vehicles to be secured in some manner.

Also with bi-partisan support HB-7219, the bill to ban ghost guns, passed xx-xx. Proponents of the bill noted the growing problem of ghost guns in Connecticut, calling attention to the multiple arrests that have been made and guilty pleas secured in Connecticut over the past year for individuals selling assault weapons assembled at home, including to convicted felons.

Melissa Kane, President of CT Against Gun Violence said, “We are proud that Connecticut continues to serve as a model for how lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation, can work together to protect their constituents from gun violence.”  Passing the three bills is a reflection of CAGV’s relationships and ongoing dialogue with legislators from both parties, and the organization’s ability to mobilize its supporters as well as those from other gun violence prevention organizations such as Moms Demand Action, Mothers United Against Violence and Newtown Action Alliance. Remarked Terra Volpe, Outreach Director for CAGV, “The collaboration among all the Connecticut-based gun violence prevention organizations was tremendous. For the past two weeks dozens of advocates have worked side-by-side in the Capitol to send a unified message to legislators: keep our citizens safe from gun violence; pass these common-sense gun laws.”