Editorial: Under fire

Police aren’t generally very chatty, so when they speak up about something, it’s worth listening to. The legislature is considering several bills that would affect gun ownership. The Bulletin asked the Wilton Police Department about two of them and it offered its support. These and two other bills deserve the community’s support as well.
House Bill 7219 would update the state’s gun laws to protect residents from ghost guns and the sale or distribution of blueprints for 3D-printed weapons. These ghost guns are a danger for many reasons, not least of all they enable people who should not have access to guns to get them. The most likely reason to obtain a ghost gun is to commit a crime.
Senate Bill 60, An Act Concerning the Presentation of a Carry Permit, would require gun owners who choose to carry their guns in public to make their permit available for inspection by police. Right now, police may only request a gun owner’s permit if they have “reasonable suspicion” a crime was committed. However, Connecticut is an open carry state, meaning someone may openly carry a gun with them. Not surprisingly, this can make people nervous and it is likely in such an instance police would be called. As Wilton Police Chief John Lynch told The Bulletin, this can put police in a difficult spot. A weapon in plain sight puts an officer on high alert. Does the person carrying the gun intend to commit a crime or are they exercising their right to carry a gun? Just as police have a right to ask for a driver’s license, so too, should they be allowed to ask for a gun permit and that permit should be handed over willingly.
The legislature is also considering Senate Bill 7223, which would make it illegal to keep a pistol or revolver in an unattended motor vehicle unless it is in a locked safe. This really hits home here. Not that long ago, a car was stolen in Wilton and in that car was a handgun. The criminal who stole that car reaped a bonanza. That gun could have been used to threaten, harm or even kill someone. A public hearing on this bill was scheduled for March 11.
Also scheduled for testimony this past Monday was House Bill 7218, which would require all firearms in a home be kept securely locked when there is:

  • A chance a minor could gain access without permission.

  • Another resident who is ineligible to possess a firearm.

  • A resident that poses a threat to themselves or someone else.

If any of those instances occur and results in the injury or death of a person, the gun owner would be held responsible. The only exception is if a minor gains access to the firearm as a result of unlawful entry.
This bill is known as Ethan’s Law, so named for Ethan Song, a young man from Guilford who was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun while visiting a friend’s house. With so many gun injuries and deaths caused by accidental discharge, this is a simple, common-sense regulation.
None of these bills will limit legal gun ownership. Both Ethan’s Law and Senate Bill 7223 — which would compel safe storage of firearms — will undoubtedly save lives if complied with. Senate Bill 7219 and Senate Bill 60 will make us all safer by banning ghost guns and requiring gun owners who carry their guns with them to show proof of legal ownership.
But, as Chief Lynch says, no regulation will amount to any good if it is not enforced. It is up to the police to enforce the laws, and if a suspect is found guilty, it is up to the judicial system to carry out the legislature’s — and the people’s — intentions.