While several state education bills have recently alarmed residents, three new gun safety bills have the support of the town’s police.
State Sen. Will Haskell (D-26) announced in January three new gun safety bills to the General Assembly. If enacted, these proposals would ban untraceable ghost guns, allow law enforcement to request proof of a gun permit of anyone carrying a weapon, and limit bulk purchases of guns.
“Ending gun violence wasn’t just something I talked about on the campaign trail. With my first three bills, I’m working to make it a reality,” Haskell said. “The common theme in these bills is that they would each empower law enforcement officers to keep our communities safe.”
Wilton police have came out in support of the three new bills. Police Chief John Lynch said currently, no one is required to show their gun permit even if police see a gun. This can prove a challenge for police, he said.
“If we approach them, we can’t force them to show us a permit,” Lynch said.
He said this can be difficult for police if someone is carrying a gun in public and people are concerned. Naturally, if police see a person with a weapon they have to be on high alert, Lynch said. While they do not assume the person is a criminal, they also can’t automatically assume they are a law-abiding citizen, he added.
“It puts us in a really difficult situation,” Lynch said. “We have to be prepared to act or not act.”
For Lynch, having the bills pass would not only be positive for policing, they are also common sense. Showing a permit for a gun would be no different than showing a license for a car, he said.
“Most people in Connecticut would expect it,” Lynch added.
While Wilton is a relatively safe town, the bill could still help. Lynch said there are around 30,000 vehicle trips up and down Route 7 with many commuters passing through Wilton. This adds another important element to policing in town.
“We’re very aggressive with motor vehicles and we always have been” Lynch said. “I think that gives a sense of security to the residents.”
The ban on untraceable ghost guns is also important, Lynch said. Owning a gun is a huge responsibility, he said.
“You should have a gun that is registered with a serial number,” he added. “If you drive a car you have to have a serial number.”
Lynch said one of the concerns for him was there is supposed to be a minimum one-year sentence for someone possessing a gun without a permit. When he reviewed data on convictions connected to this, only a handful of people faced the penalty, he said.
“If you have a strict gun law, but you don’t follow through with it, you undermine the intent,” he said.
Some of these gun safety laws were concerns he directly voiced to Gov. Ned Lamont when he visited Wilton. In previous years, Lynch said the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association pushed for more efficient gun laws.
“I think this year there is a lot more support locally and statewide,” Lynch said. “It sounds like the governor is on board with it.”