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New gun restrictions pass Connecticut House

A new bill that would add new restrictions to gun ownership, as well as increase fines and criminal punishments for violations of existing gun laws, passed the state’s House of Representatives in a near party-line vote on Thursday afternoon.

House Bill 6667 was written based on a laundry list of legislative goals announced by Gov. Ned Lamont in February of this year. Its provisions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • An expansion of the “assault rifle” ban.
  • An expansion of the existing “ghost gun” ban requiring owners to engrave any such gun assembled before the existing ban went into effect (pre-2019).
  • A statewide ban on open carry except in property that you own or rent.
  • Tightened ban on “large capacity” magazines, eliminating the first offense.
  • The age to purchase a long gun is increased from 18 to 21.
  • Handgun purchases are limited to one per month.
  • Expands offenses that disqualify a person from owning a firearm to include misdemeanor family violence or being a fugitive.
  • Prohibits the carrying of loaded long guns in motor vehicles.
  • Creates additional educational requirements, including instruction and live fire training.
  • Requires manufacturers to include a loaded chamber indicator on handguns.
  • Requires dealers to give trigger locks or written warning to all gun buyers.

House Republicans spent several hours arguing against the wide-sweeping restrictions in the bill. In an early argument, though, Rep. Craig Fishbein (R-Wallingford) summed up the overarching sentiment of his party saying that the bill did more to target law-abiding gun owners than those who would commit gun violence.

Representative Cara C. Pavalock-D’Amato sports a pro-2A shirt while speaking on HB6667 Credit: CTN / CTN

At the heart of Rep. Fishbein’s argument was the notion that, by their nature, criminals don’t follow rules and therefore new rules would do less to stop criminality and more to add burdens to those who are following the rules already in place.

Later in the afternoon, one of the bill’s co-authors and House Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport), said that argument didn’t make sense to him.

“To suggest or to think that just because legislation may not stop every gun death that we shouldn’t do anything at all, that we should just vote against this because it’s not gonna solve all of our problems, I can’t stand here and do that. We need to act. We’re taking action.”

“This proposal … is another step in the evolution of gun responsibility laws in Connecticut,” said Rep. Bob Godfrey (D-Danbury) arguing that these laws are part of why Connecticut has become a safer state in recent decades. “States with strong gun responsibility laws are safer than those who do not have it,” he said.

Rep. Fishbein said he agreed with some elements related to gun crime prosecution that were included in the bill, stating his belief that it was the first part of the bill which addressed gun crime itself. 

Fishbein then went on to introduce an amendment to the bill which increased penalties for those in violation of the state’s existing gun laws, especially for those who are on parole or probation and violate the terms of that release. The amendment passed.

In a bit of drama during the debate, Assistant Deputy Speaker of the House Kevin Ryan had the chamber stand at ease during statements by Rep. Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown). Bolinsky had spent the majority of his time chastising the chamber, not just for the efforts to increase the state’s gun laws, but also for legislation he felt disrespected police, including school resource officers, and efforts to change the state’s cash bail laws which passed the House on Wednesday.

Speaker Ritter asked him more than once to keep his statements to the text of the bill at hand and when Bolinsky said he could have him removed if he wanted, the speaker chose to have the House stand at ease for a few minutes, after which Bolinsky was permitted to continue his argument, this time remaining on topic.

“From a pure justice standpoint, the lack of what this bill intends to address offends me just a little bit,” Bolinsky said when he resumed his argument, relating a story about a friend whose father was stabbed to death just over a year ago. “This bill doesn’t do anything to address the underlying problems. I’d like to see us sit down. I’d like to see a little bit of what we tell the media is our bipartisanship.”

House Bill 6667 ultimately passed out of the chamber in a majority vote of 96 to 51. Notably, four Democrats voted against the bill while seven Republicans voted in favor. It will now head to the Senate.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

1 Comment

  1. J strosahl
    May 30, 2023 @ 4:12 pm

    another 2nd amendment over reach. like everyone knows it won’t do a single thing to prevent inner-city crime


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