Connecticut Legislature Holds Emotional Hearing on Proposed Gun Control Legislation

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing on March 6 on firearms and gun-control legislation that lasted about 12 hours (approximately 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.) and which, at times, got testy and emotional.

Close to 5,000 people submitted written testimony, and more than 150 delivered their remarks in person or through an online video feed.

Individuals primarily speaking for themselves, municipal police chiefs and elected officials, and representatives of gun-control and gun-rights and Second Amendment advocacy groups gave testimony and answered questions.

Gov. Ned Lamont put forth two of the four bills discussed and debated at the hearing.

As The Epoch Times reported on Jan. 27, Lamont has been out-front in pushing legislation that would further regulate gun ownership in a state which already has some of the strictest state gun laws in the nation.

Connecticut also ranks among the states with the lowest gun crime rates.

“The overwhelming majority of Connecticut residents want commonsense measures enacted that encourage gun safety and prevent harm from impacting our homes and our communities,” Lamont said last month in a statement that announced a segment of his gun-control legislation. “This is especially needed to prevent tragic accidents, as well as instances of domestic violence and suicide.”

Lamont’s bills, if passed, would impose on private citizens—but largely exempt police, the military, and other government agencies—new gun restrictions, storage and safety requirements, fees, permitting procedures, and registration mandates.

Of the other two bills on the hearing docket, the legislative arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA) identified one as a “pro-gun” bill; and one of the bills contains items on which both sides of the gun debate have found common ground.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
An attendee holds a Glock Ges.m.b.H. pistol during the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas, on May 28, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

Powerful Debate

Nikki Goeser gave her riveting testimony remotely. She spoke in opposition to items in one of Lamont’s bills that ban guns in establishments that serve alcohol and also mandates safe and locked storage of firearms.

“In 2009, my husband, Ben, was shot seven times and killed in front of me by a man who I only realized that very night was stalking me,” said Goeser. “This occurred inside of a restaurant that served alcohol in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a gun-free zone.

“At that time in Tennessee, handgun-carry permit holders were prevented by state law from carrying in these restaurants even though you are a designated driver like I was. Because of the law at that time, I had to leave my legal permitted firearm that I normally carried for self-defense locked inside of my vehicle that night. I obeyed that gun control law. My stalker did not. He had no permit to carry the gun.

“He brought that gun into a gun-free zone illegally.”

Goeser explained how Tennessee changed its law and now allows those permitted to carry a gun to bring it into a business that serves alcohol as long as the gun owner is not consuming alcohol.

open carry banned in photographs
open carry banned in photographs
A man openly carries a gun in a file photograph. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

In addition to the parts of Lamont’s bills that Nikki Goeser addressed, other changes that H.B. No. 6667 and H.B. No. 6816 would make to Connecticut gun laws include banning the open carrying of a firearm outside one’s home, imposing new regulations on the registering of so-called ghost guns, which are firearms made from kits or 3D printers; outlawing the purchase of body armor; prohibiting the purchase of more than one gun per month; establishing a 10-day waiting period between the time a person seeks to purchase a gun and when he actual purchase can occur; expanding the scope of the state’s assault weapons ban; requiring firearms to carry microstamped markings in their firing mechanisms that will make it easier for law enforcement to match an expended bullet casing to the gun that fired the bullet; and increasing the minimum age to purchase and own a long gun (which includes a hunting rifle) from 18 to 21.

The written testimony filed with the Connecticut General Assembly opposed, in large measure, the governor’s bills.

“In overwhelming numbers, the citizens were engaged and participated to express their objections to Governor Lamont’s bills,” said Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), in a conversation with The Epoch Times. “Consider that for H.B. 6667, nearly 4,000 testified in opposition and only 261 in favor.

“It goes to show that the people of Connecticut are not fooled by terms like ‘common sense’ gun laws and are critically thinking about their safety in a state failing to curb crime despite onerous gun control.”

Sullivan also noted, “The reality is that Connecticut has always been one of the safest states in the country as far back as data exists. This has been the case since long before we had some of the toughest gun laws.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
File photo showing people singing the national anthem during a rally promoting Second Amendment rights in Washington on July 7, 2018. (Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images)

Three Republicans—Rep. Mark Anderson, Rep. Craig Fishbein, and Sen. Rob Sampson—and Rep. Travis Simms, a Democrat, co-sponsored H.B. No. 6817, a bill that the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legal Action (NRA-ILA) calls a “pro-gun” bill.

The act seeks to speed up the process through which the state approves a gun permit, eliminates certain gun licensing and permitting fees, removes some target shooting pistols from being included in the assault weapon ban, and requires the state to develop and put in place a mass shooting response plan.

H.B. No. 6834, “An Act Concerning Serious Firearm Offenses By Repeat Offenders,” did not receive as much attention in the hearing as the other three bills, but gun-control and gun-rights groups have both found merit and something to like in its contents.

The legislation aims to make repeat firearm offenders more accountable for their actions and provides law enforcement officials with new powers to arrest and detain those with firearm convictions who violate probation.

Connecticut—Its Place in the National Consciousness on Guns

Connecticut occupies a singularly poignant and emotional place and status in the national dialogue over guns.

The most deadly K-12 mass school shooting in U.S. history took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where on Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman, after shooting and killing his mother, fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

Firearms manufacture has also long been important and a major contributor to the state’s economy. Indeed, Connecticut played a founding role in commercial gun manufacturing in America.

Connecticut is also the home of companies that manufacture among the world’s most iconic guns: Colt Manufacturing (Colt), O.F. Mossberg & Sons (Mossberg), and Sturm, Ruger & Co. (Ruger).

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