WATERBURY — Gov. Ned Lamont this week announced a legislative proposal to ban the open carry of firearms, among other initiatives aimed at curbing gun violence.
The announcement took place at the Waterbury Police Department Tuesday, two days after the mass shooting that killed 11 in Monterey Park, California.
Although Connecticut is among the six states with the least firearm mortality rates, Lamont introduced the 2023 legislative proposal: Taking Action To Eliminate Gun Violence. It’s part of Lamont’s package of priorities for the legislative session which he will present in February to the General Assembly.
Attorney General William Tong, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Mayor of Waterbury Neil O’Leary, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, Mayor of New Haven Justin Elicker, and state Rep. Geraldo Reyes, D- Waterbury, were some of the participants speaking in favor of the proposed legislation.
The proposal includes banning the open carry of firearms in public, but allows the firearm to be carried if concealed in particular locations.
“So we’re going to ban open carry in public places. It’s worked in other states, and it can work here in the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “And now I don’t have to ask whether that's a legal or illegal gun, if you’re carrying that weapon in a public place, you can’t any longer.”
According to Lamont, the ban doesn’t infringe on the Second Amendent. The proposal isn’t banning guns but only bans open carry in public places.
In addition, the proposal includes investing an additional $2.5 million in community violence intervention programs, limiting handgun purchases to once per month in order to prevent bulk purchases, and updating the state’s ban on unregistered “ghost guns”.
“We have more illegal guns on the street today than ever before,” Lamont said. “Those [ghost] guns are meant to kill and they're meant to be untraceable.”
In 2019, Lamont signed into law legislation that required ghost guns to be registered, but if it was assembled after the law took place. This proposal requires all ghost guns to be registered, even if created before 2019. According to Lamont, this will help law encorcement to administer the law.
During the press conference, Reyes emphasized the importance of having common sense gun laws. “We need more common sense gun laws because people are dying,” Reyes said. “And I will say what others haven’t said because It’s people who look like me that are dying. Black and brown communities are being greatly affected. I’m not afraid to talk about the elephant in the room.”
Reyes represents Waterbury’s 75th House District and says that a lot of violent crimes are taking place. “Last year we had over 20 murders and around 95 percent of them were minorities,” he said.
According to Reyes, programs should also target children in middle school and elementary school since it’s easier to have an influence. “I also think there should be repercussions for the parents of these children,” he said. “Why aren’t they being held accountable for the actions of their children?”
The community violence intervention programs in the proposal will seek to stop the cycles of violence through community-based, hospital-based, and law enforcement-led strategies.