As Connecticut lawmakers tackle the 2019 legislative session over the next five months, legislators are pushing an array of firearm bills that highlight issues regarding gun safety, rights, and reforms.

Connecticut has more firearm laws than almost every other state, according to an inventory by Boston University researchers. Many of those laws emerged in response to the Sandy Hook School massacre in 2012, and have been touted as some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on guns.

Democrats will likely use their majority in both legislative chambers to help shepherd a number of additional gun-control bills backed by advocates.

On the campaign trail, Gov. Ned Lamont said he would ensure Connecticut remains a leader in combating gun violence through legislation. The governor has also expressed support for banning 3D-printed guns, and so-called ghost guns, which are firearms parts used to make untraceable weapons.

Here are some of the most significant gun bills lawmakers have introduced in the General Assembly in 2019:

Gun safety measures

Among Democratic proposals for further restrictions are measures to ban 3D-printed guns and ghost guns, and require those openly carrying a firearm to show their gun permit to law enforcement officers if requested.

“There’s absolutely no reason why we as a society should have 3D-printed or ghost guns—these are loopholes in the definition of firearms,” said state Sen. Alex Bergstein of Greenwich.

Recent efforts to restrict 3D-printed guns and ghost guns have failed, but in May the legislature passed a bill later signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that bans the sale and ownership of bump stocks, a rapid-fire rifle accessory.

Bergstein, who has introduced iterations of all of those bills, said although lawmakers can pass legislation on a state level, the problem won’t be eliminated until Congress acts.

State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, together with nine other Republicans, also introduced a measure that would prohibit 3D-printed guns and ghost guns. Lavielle said passing a bill is important because those weapons are unserialized and unregistered, do not receive formal inspection, and cannot be spotted by metal detectors if they are made by 3D printers.

“We wanted to make a statement by not only supporting legislation, but actually introducing one because that means you actually stand by the concept,” Lavielle said.

State Sen. Will Haskell, the 22-year-old Democrat who unseated Republican incumbent Toni Boucher, said local students and high schoolers who volunteered on his campaign told him “common sense gun violence prevention” was their most salient concern.

Among his own proposals regarding ghost guns and firearm permit holders, is another that would limit the number of guns someone can purchase to one per month.

Haskell said if Connecticut passes that legislation, it would be following the lead of California, New Jersey, and Maryland and heeding to important public safety concerns regarding bulk purchases of firearms.

Gun rights measures

Having lost seats in both chambers and their chairmen posts on legislative committees, minority Republicans will have an uphill battle in trying to move a range of legislation aimed at bolstering gun rights.

Those measures include prohibiting the governor or municipalities from restricting possession of firearms or ammunition during a state of emergency, allowing the transfer of an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine between two people who already legally possess either one, and allowing an individual with an out-of-state license or firearms permit to buy ammunition.

State Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, said his measure to allow the transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines “would not be adding any new weapons or magazines into the state, it would not be adding any new owners.”

The Republican lawmaker said Democrats’ attempts at requiring those openly carrying a firearm to show their gun permit to law enforcement officers would not survive court scrutiny. Dubitsky said law enforcement officials cannot stop someone and ask to see their permit without first being reasonably suspicious a crime has been committed.

State Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, said a bill he has repeatedly proposed to allow firearms in state parks “stems from my belief that the Second Amendment should apply to you no matter where you are.”

“That should not be limited in a state park. It seems like a poor place to restrict someone from protecting themselves,” he added.

Gun reform measures

Lawmakers are also proposing several bills that would toughen or modify some of the state’s existing firearms laws.

Two of those bills involve tightening Connecticut’s firearm storage law and increasing parental responsibility when an incident occurs from a stored firearm or is easily accessible to a minor.

State Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, announced his storage proposal in November with the parents of Ethan Song, a 15-year-old Guilford teenager who accidentally shot and killed himself at a friend’s house last January.

The proposal, called Ethan’s Law, would close a perceived loophole in the state’s current gun storage legislation. The current statute requires only loaded firearms to be properly stored if a minor is likely to gain access to them.

The bill would amend the law to require that all firearms, even those that are unloaded, be stored properly. It would also raise the age of those considered a minor from under the age of 16 to 18.

In another proposal, Haskell and state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, are pushing a bill that would tax the sale of ammunition at 50 percent.

Ammunition is currently taxed at the standard sales tax rate, which is 6.35 percent. A 50-cartridge box of handgun ammunition for a 9 mm weapon costs about $10 at Cabela’s; this proposal would increase the cost to consumers for that ammunition from $10.63 to $15.00 after taxes.

This story was updated on Jan. 30, 2019 at 3:10 p.m.

Clarice Silber

Clarice Silber was a General Assignment Reporter at CT Mirror. She formerly worked for The Associated Press in Phoenix as a legislative and general assignment reporter. In 2016, she conducted extensive interviews and research in Portuguese and Spanish for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at McClatchy, which was the only U.S. newspaper to gain initial access to the Panama Papers. She is a Rio de Janeiro native and graduated from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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9 Comments

  1. If allowed to anti gun advocates would raise taxes on ammunition to a point where the average person could not afford to buy it… Thus effectively negating the second admendment.

  2. I have no problem showing my permit to any police officer, if asked. Just like I have no problem showing my drivers license to a a police if asked. What is missing from this is a only a pistol requires a carry permit. When hunting, I have a hunting license that I have to show to a DEEP person just like a fishing license.

    So, lets make this “FAIR.” The favored word used by democrats. If I have to show my license to carry a gun then everybody should be required to show a ID for voting. By voting for some issues, these votes can and will have far reaching consequences that effect more people than just people caring a gun. The voting responsibility is higher than carrying a gun. So lets make these laws “FAIR.”

    So will everybody have to be showing an ID before getting health care?

    1. LK: “So will everybody have to be showing an ID before getting health care?”

      Actually every doctor I see regularly requires me to provide my ID & insurance so they can copy it for my file. What I do not understand is why the need to do this annually.

      I agree about showing an ID in order to vote. It has been the practice in my town ever since I started voting. I do not understand what all the fuss is about.

      1. One does not need to be a US Citizen to get a drivers license and the only ID I’ve ever been asked to show is a drivers license. At least theoretically, one must be a US Citizen to vote in US elections.

  3. I’m happy to see the democrats going for the throat on gun control because the vast majority of gun owners in this state have never appreciated their rights and taken them for granted. When the CCDL would hold rallies at the Capitol, the same crowd would show again and again with most gun owners claiming “they had to work” that day while at the same time larger gun stores in Newington and Waterbury remained open, afraid to sacrifice a single cent by closing their doors to those patrons who oh yes, claimed to be “at work” that day. Every gun store should have closed for the rallies (at least for a few hours) to send a message loud and clear to gun owners that if you avoid the political reality in Connecticut, you will find that these doors may one day be closed for good. Now the struggle for gun owners to retain their rights becomes much more difficult and for that you can only blame each other.

  4. Still waiting for legislation that will prevent the vast majority of Connecticut shootings which happen in the cities. Why work on 95% of the issue when you can grandstand about the other 5%?

  5. “common sense gun violence prevention”

    That sure sounds a lot like “Affordable Care Act,” “Climate Adjustment,” “Undocumented Migrant,” “Dreamers,” and other contrived, ‘harmless’ names for Democrat/GOPE agenda items.

  6. Yet another tax being proposed! Be careful or next thing you know you will not be able to afford to buy ammunition to hunt or recreational shoot, both legal activities.

  7. So these “leaders” would rather have an armed population that cannot afford to purchase enough ammunition to practice with their firearms regularly? In what world does that make anyone safer???

    All they are going to do is drive ammo sales outside of the state, like they have with gas and liquor near the Mass border.

    And one handgun purchase per month? It is the CRIMINALS with illegal firearms that are the threat to the population, not the legal, background-checked CT citizen.

    All that is needed is mandatory non-negotiable one year+ jail sentences if you are convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm in this state. There, I just solved your problem.

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