2021 Legislative Session Recap

In 2021 CAGV picked up where we left off when the 2020 legislative agenda was put on hold in March, 2020 due to the pandemic: strengthening the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) and getting the state to establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Substantive progress was made on both fronts, though much remains to be done to address the public health crisis of street violence in Connecticut’s urban centers.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders
The General Assembly passed, and Gov. Lamont signed, HB-6355An Act Concerning Risk Protection Orders. The House voted 93-55-3, with two Republicans joining all but four Democrats in voting for the bill. In the Senate, the bill passed on a straight party-line vote, 23-12-1.

ERPOs provide a means of last resort for removing firearms from individuals judged by a court to be at risk of imminent harm to themselves or others. ERPOs have been particularly successful at preventing firearm suicide and strong circumstantial evidence exists that they prevent mass shootings. The key provisions of Public Act 21-67 include:

  • Requiring a court hearing to demonstrate that the risk of imminent violence no longer exists before firearms are returned. 
  • Prohibiting an individual at risk of imminent harm from purchasing a firearm even if the individual doesn’t currently possess a firearm.
  • Allowing family, household members, intimate partners and healthcare professionals to directly petition the court for a risk protection order.

Connecticut is the first state to require a court hearing before returning firearms, continuing our legacy of leadership; we were the first in the nation to create an ERPO, more than 25 years ago.

Office of Gun Violence Prevention
CAGV and our supporters continued to push the Lamont administration and the General Assembly to establish a state-level grant-making authority (an Office of Gun Violence Prevention) tasked with funding and implementing evidence-based, community-centric prevention and intervention programs to reduce street-level gun violence. We call this the Connecticut Initiative to Prevent Community Gun Violence.

Since CAGV launched the CT Initiative in the summer of 2020, there has been substantial support for getting the state to take a more intentional effort to address community gun violence. Since its inception, 40 organizations have signed on as partners, 69 currently seated legislators pledged to support it and some 1,150 CAGV supporters like you have sent Gov. Lamont and state legislators more than 3,000 emails and postcards urging them to take action. A huge shoutout to all of you for using your voices to drive the change we need to make our urban centers safe from gun violence! 

Although the goal of creating an Office of Gun Violence Prevention has not yet been realized, notable progress was made. In Senate Bill 1, which declares racism a public health crisis, the legislature created an external committee to advise it on establishing a Commission on Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention “to coordinate the funding and implementation of evidence-based, community-centric programs and strategies to reduce street-level gun violence in the state” (we were pleased to see our wording from the CT Initiative borrowed verbatim). CAGV is named to the advisory committee. SB-1 passed on a bipartisan basis, 114-33-4 in the House and 30-5-1 in the Senate.

CAGV held multiple discussions with the Lamont administration and the Office of Policy Management about meeting the goals of the CT Initiative through executive action. These discussions are ongoing.

Other Measures to Reduce Community Gun Violence
CAGV joined efforts with allies to advocate for two bills that will improve the state’s ability to prevent community gun violence. HB-5677An Act Concerning Community Gun Violence Services Under Medicaid, makes Connecticut the first state in the nation to provide Medicaid reimbursement for Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP) services. HVIP counsels gunshot injury victims during and after hospital stays to short-circuit acts of retaliatory violence, and provide victims with the after-care they need. The bill passed both the House and Senate without a single “no” vote!

HB-6034An Act Concerning Project Longevity, also passed without a single “nay.” This bill, for which CAGV organized a strong turnout of supporters to testify at the public hearing, extends Project Longevity to Waterbury, which experienced a 6x increase in gun homicide in 2020. Project Longevity is the group-violence intervention (GVI) strategy that engages with the small number of individuals in urban communities who account for a majority of gun violence, either as perpetrators or victims. The program brings all levels of law enforcement together with social service providers and community leaders to warn that all members of the group will be held accountable for future gun violence, but also to provide the supports such as job training, employment, housing and healthcare needed to turn away from violence.

These accomplishments could not have been made without your advocacy, so please take pride in what we have accomplished together. If you’re pleased with our collective progress, please consider making a contribution to set us up for more success next year, any amount makes a difference.

Please Don’t Let the NRA Sabotage the ATF

The ATF is the federal agency tasked with enforcing the nation’s gun laws and regulating the firearms industry. However, for years Congressional allies of the gun lobby have pursued a relentless strategy to weaken the ATF.

President Biden has nominated David Chipman to lead the ATF, but the confirmation is imperiled, despite Chipman’s impressive credentials. Senate GOP Whip John Thune reported that Republicans are united in their opposition, and a handful of Democrats are on the fence.

We need your help to get all 50 Democrats and Independents on board. If you know people in Arizona, Maine, Montana or West Virginia, please reach out to them and ask them to contact their Senators in support of Chipman’s nomination. See below for an email you can copy and send right now.

And, please call Senators Blumenthal (202-224-2823) and Murphy (202-224-4041) to let them know you want them to do everything they can to get Chipman confirmed. Your support strengthens their position.

Please click here to let us know you’ve taken this important action. We’re part of a national coalition working to confirm Chipman, and we want to report back on your efforts.

David Chipman is uniquely qualified to lead the ATF. He has dedicated his career to public safety, counterterrorism, and gun violence prevention, spanning 25 years as a special agent and in leadership roles at the ATF, and now as an advisor to Giffords.

The NRA and its Senate allies oppose Chipman because he supports an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and an aggressive posture for the ATF to go after corrupt gun dealers who supply straw purchasers and gun traffickers.

Please go through your address book and send the email below to people you know in AZ, ME, MT and WV, and call Senators Blumenthal and Murphy (contact info and script below). Then click this link to let us know you’ve completed the action.

Thank you for taking action to give the ATF the leadership it needs.

Regulate Ghost Guns

Last year, a convicted felon in Watertown used a gun assembled at home by his girlfriend to kill her two teenage children over an argument about him smoking in the house. Last month, a man in Vernon used his homemade “ghost gun” to shoot and kill a Motel 6 owner over a dispute about a pool pass.

Just halfway through the year, more of these untraceable guns have been recovered by police in Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury than during all of 2021. A 2018 House Committee reported that ghost guns are a “homeland security threat.”

Earlier this year, President Biden instructed the Justice Department to propose a rule change to regulate ghost guns just as firearms purchased from gun dealers are: requiring criminal background checks to purchase these DIY kits, and affixing serial numbers so they can be traced when used in crimes.

The DOJ’s proposed rule change has been published, and is available for public comment. Please take a moment to register your support for ATF’s regulatory changes that will finally treat ghost guns as the serious threat they are.

Tell the ATF: ghost guns should be regulated!
Although Connecticut took the lead in regulating ghost guns in 2019, without federal action, the threat to public safety will continue to increase. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of ghost guns retrieved from crime scenes increased five-fold. The NRA announced it will do everything it can to stop “Biden’s gun control,” including regulating ghost guns.

Please click here to use our action form to tell DOJ that you support their rule change. So far some 85,000 comments have been submitted, and I can assure you, the vast majority talk about violating the Second Amendment, punishing law-abiding gun owners and left-wing gun-grabbing conspiracies.

Appearances matter; it’s critical to show lawmakers and the media that unfettered access to lethal weapons is not OK.

Thank you for using your voice to keep us safe from these DIY guns that are showing up everywhere, including here in Connecticut.