Lamont’s Gun Proposals Receive Pushback From Gun Advocates | Connecticut News

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By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposal to expand Connecticut‘s gun control laws received pushback Monday from some opponents who argue it’s a “kneejerk” reaction to combatting crime — a key issue in this year’s election.

During a daylong public hearing on Lamont’s bill, numerous gun rights advocates and supportive state legislators argued more needs to be done to control crime in Connecticut rather than control guns in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S.

“I have no disrespect for Governor Lamont, but it’s a crime. And it’s not a knee-jerk reaction regarding guns,” said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield. “The only people that would end up getting caught in a lot of these measures are the law-abiding citizens of the state of Connecticut.”

Lamont, who is seeking a second term in November, unveiled a package of legislative proposals last month that he maintains will help eliminate gun violence in state he contends remains “one of the safest” in the nation. While there’s additional money in his plan to reestablish a state/federal gun-tracing task force to stop the flow of illegal weapons into Connecticut and to train additional police officers, gun rights advocates complained Monday that the bulk of the legislation is more gun control laws.

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Lamont has called for expanding the state’s assault weapons ban; requiring pre-2019 untraceable “ghost guns” to be registered; requiring all firearms, not just pistols and revolvers, to be sold with a trigger lock; making it easier for police to request gun permits from someone openly carrying a firearm; and banning the carrying of firearms in polling places, public buildings, public transit, and at demonstrations, such as protests, among other provisions.

“You’re not tough on crime if you’re weak on guns,” the governor said last month when he unveiled his proposal.

The Connecticut Democratic Party has pushed that message as well, last month crediting Lamont in an email with doubling down “on his commitment to public safety and smart gun violence prevention” and criticizing his likely GOP opponent, businessman Bob Stefanowski, for receiving an endorsement from the NRA when he first ran against Lamont in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Stefanowski, meanwhile, has criticized Lamont and his fellow Democrats for not doing more to reduce crime in Connecticut, which he has called “rampant.”

“It’s a lot easier, I understand, to ban an object. To demonize an object. To say that’s the cause of the problem. But that’s not the cause of the problem,” said Walt Kupson, outreach coordinator for the 42,000-member Connecticut Citizens Defense Fund, during Monday’s Judiciary Committee public hearing.

But veteran Rep. Bob Godrey, D-Danbury, said examples of people bringing guns to protests around the country, including to sites where votes were being counted in 2020, shows the need for Connecticut to continually update its existing laws with provisions such as Lamont’s proposed ban on guns at polling places and public buildings.

“When I see armed groups wanting to kidnap the governor of Michigan. When I see groups invade the U.S. Capitol on January 6th … When I see fascist-leaning, gun-toting people wanting to overturn democracy and replace it with government by dictatorship, I get really really angry and I get really frightened,” he said.

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