2022 Legislative Session
Included in the $24 billion budget passed by the CT General Assembly is an unprecedented level of spending of nearly $6 million to fund community gun violence prevention, intervention and aftercare programs. This investment to address the public health crisis of gun violence in Connecticut reflects the hard work of legislative leaders and the Lamont administration, and the support of numerous lawmakers.
Making good on CAGV’s call to establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention, of particular note is $400K from the General Fund that mandates the Department of Public Health (DPH) to establish an ongoing grant-making program to secure state, federal and other resources to support evidence-informed, community-centric gun violence intervention and prevention programs. The grants will work to address the root causes of gun violence and break the cycles of violence that too often turn deadly because of easy access to illegal guns.
Active community involvement is critical to the program’s success, ensuring that the right solutions are brought to bear where they are most needed. This will be achieved by the newly established Commission on Community Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention. By overseeing the development of grant criteria, the Commission will help to ensure American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding of $2.4 million goes to the most effective programs, in the communities hardest hit by interpersonal gun violence, which accounts for the majority of Connecticut homicides. A required annual report by the DPH Commissioner to the legislature’s Public Health Committee will also help to ensure accountability.
Additional ARPA spending and other funds in the budget earmarked for existing hospital-based violence intervention, violence interrupter and group-violence intervention programs will ensure continuity for existing efforts.
Creating a grant-making capacity for community-based gun violence reduction programs realizes a policy objective that CAGV initiated in 2020, when it launched the CT Initiative to Prevent Community Gun Violence. The CT Initiative is supported by more than 50 national, state and local partners, all of whom share a common goal of allowing residents of Connecticut to enjoy safe and healthy communities, wherever they live.
It is encouraging to see that state lawmakers and the Lamont administration recognized that solutions must go beyond strong gun laws and law enforcement. Those are necessary, but not sufficient, to address the public health crisis of gun violence that is taking so many lives in Connecticut, particularly of young men of color.
Spending on community-based gun violence reduction in the FY 2023 budget represents a significant increase from past years’ appropriations. However, reliable, ongoing funding of these programs will be needed to address the systemic issues that underlie much of the violence in urban communities. Since most of the appropriations for FY 2023 come from one-time ARPA grants, more stable sources of funding will be needed to support these programs in FY 2024 and beyond. Beyond the lives saved, funding gun violence prevention is fiscally sound: Giffords estimates that the direct cost to Connecticut taxpayers is around $90 million annually.
2021 Legislative Session
- 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. Additional details can be found in our Legislative FAQ.
CAGV and its 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 widespread and substantial support for getting the state to take a more intentional effort to address community gun violence. As of August, 2021, 40 organizations have signed on as partners to the CT Initiative, 69 currently seated legislators pledged to support it and some 1,150 citizens have sent Gov. Lamont and state legislators more than 3,000 emails and postcards urging them to take action.
Although the goal of creating an Office of Gun Violence Prevention was not achieved, notable progress was made. In the landmark 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 in 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 Office of Policy Management about meeting the goals of the CT Initiative through executive action. These discussions are ongoing.
CAGV and its supporters joined efforts with our allies to advocate for two bills that will improve the state’s ability to prevent community gun violence. HB-5677, An 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-6034, An 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 model brings all levels of law enforcement (local, state and federal) together with social service providers and community leaders to warn participants that all members of their 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.
2020 Legislative Session
CAGV headed into the 2020 legislative session with two priorities: preventing gun suicide, which accounts for a majority of Connecticut gun deaths, and pursuing non-legislative means to reduce community gun violence, which accounts for the majority of gun homicide in the state, and is concentrated in our largest cities.
HB-5448, An Act Concerning a Risk Protection Order, was raised in the Judiciary Committee to strengthen our Extreme Risk Protection Order law (passed in 1999, the first state in the country to do so). ERPOs are a means of last resort for removing guns from individuals who are at risk of imminent harm to themselves or others. The bill included reforms to add further protections against suicide and homicide by high-risk gun owners. Learn more about HB-5448 here.
The legislative session was suspended in March due to the pandemic, so there was no further action on the bill.
To address street-level violence, CAGV proposed the CT Initiative to Prevent Community Gun Violence, calling on the state to establish a grant-making authority to fund community-based violence prevention programs. The initiative was announced in this op-ed.
With the legislature in recess, CAGV pivoted towards building momentum for the CT Initiative ahead of the 2021 legislative session. We received pledges from 115 candidates running for the CT General Assembly to support the CT Initiative if elected, and our supporters sent more than 1,000 emails to Gov. Lamont and legislators calling on them to make the CT Initiative a reality.
2019 Legislative Session
History was made in 2019 when we passed three bills in one session; something that had never been done before. Safe Storage (Home), Safe Storage (Vehicles) , and Ghost Guns were passed with strong bipartisan majorities. In fact, more legislators voted for Ethan’s Law (HB7218) than any gun bill in the state’s history. This was a huge win for Connecticut. Learn more from our 2019 Legislative Session Recap and see how your legislators voted on all three bills here.
2018 Legislative Session
On October 1, 2018 Connecticut’s ban on bump stocks took effect. Passed in response to the horrific mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, the worst in the nation’s history, Public Act No. 18-29 prohibits the sale, transfer or possession of any “rate of fire enhancement.”
Practically, this would prohibit individuals from converting semi-automatic rifles into the equivalent of machine guns, as the Las Vegas shooter did to kill 58 and injure more than 500. The ban requires all individuals in Connecticut to destroy or otherwise dispose of any bump stock or similar devices they possessed before October 1, 2018.
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