A panel of local legislators and candidates answered questions about gun violence and what Connecticut has, could and should do when it comes to gun laws during a town hall-style meeting in Wilton High School\u2019s Little Theater on June 9. The meeting was organized by Wilton High School junior and Connecticut Teens Against Gun Violence (CTTAGV) founder Isabella Segall, and moderated by Connecticut Against Gun Violence\u2019s executive director, Jeremy Stein. Of the more than 20 individuals\u00a0\u2014 ranging from candidates and sitting representatives and senators to police chiefs and selectmen and selectwomen \u2014 invited to be on the panel, according to Stein, the following five participated: Toni Boucher, Republican senator of the 26th State Senate District. Bob Duff, Democratic senator of the 25th State Senate District. Adam Dunsby, Republican state representative of the 135th State House District. Will Haskell, a Democrat running for the 26th State Senate District seat. Anne Hughes, a Democrat running for the 135th State House District seat. Gun access Boucher said she\u2019s heard from Hartford and Bridgeport residents who don\u2019t believe passing more gun laws would fix the problem of gun violence in inner cities. \u201cThey\u2019ll say to me, \u2018You can pass all the gun laws you want [but] in my neighborhood in Hartford \u2026 somebody will pull up with a van and sell [guns] straight out of their trunk,\u2019 \u2014\u00a0not with gun permits or any of that, and they proliferate,\u201d she said. Boucher said \u201csome of the strictest places\u201d have \u201csome of the highest rates of gun violence,\u201d adding that it\u2019s \u201cthe illegal sale of guns that still permeates our society.\u201d \u201cWhat we don\u2019t talk about when we\u2019re talking about very high-profile cases like Sandy Hook and Parkland is that everyday, our inner cities are faced with gun violence of such a proportion, it is staggering,\u201d she said. \u201cThey tell us, \u2018Why not concentrate on us? Why are you not just as outraged about what\u2019s happening to us everyday?\u2019 and I would have to say that I still feel that it is time for us to really focus.\u201d Haskell pushed back a bit on the notion that greater regulations wouldn\u2019t restrict the problem of gun proliferation in inner cities. \u201cGun regulation works, and when we passed gun laws in Connecticut, the gun violence rates dropped by 40% and gun suicide rates dropped by 15%,\u201d he said, \u201cso we know through experience that works.\u201d \u201cLast night I was doing a little preparation for this forum and I went to GhostGuns.com \u2014\u00a0I could buy a handgun for $39.99 [that\u2019s] unserialized and unregistered,\u201d he said. \u201cThese are guns that are being sold legally. A whole handgun won\u2019t arrive in your mailbox \u2014\u00a0it\u2019ll only be 80% of a handgun and you\u2019re only responsible for finding the other 20%, but it\u2019s not very hard.\u201d When it comes to access, Duff said, he believes it \u201ccomes down to \u2026 being safe and ensuring that people\u2019s rights aren\u2019t infringing on [others\u2019] rights.\u201d \u201cJust like the balance on all our amendments to the Constitution, the courts weigh in on a number of things \u2026 that codify the balance between absolute right versus what works in a just society rule of law. There have been boundaries placed on all of our rights and freedoms since the beginning of our country, so it comes down to: How do we balance that?\u201d he said. While there are \u201ca number of people who say that they have an absolute right to own any weapon they want,\u201d Duff said, he thinks the courts, legislatures and Congress\u00a0\u2014 \u201cwhen it was still functioning years ago\u201d\u00a0\u2014\u00a0would \u201cdisagree, saying that we have the right to put parameters and keep our citizens safe.\u201d \u201cWe need to not forget and not lose sight of the fact that we all deserve to feel safe in our communities,\u201d said Duff. \u201cWe should not have this constant looking-over-your-shoulder because of the fact that we\u2019re worried about somebody having access to a weapon that they should not be entitled to or they should not have in the first place.\u201d Age restrictions The minimum age to purchase handgun in Connecticut is 21, but the minimum age to purchase a long gun is 18. The panel was asked if they believe the age limit for long gun purchases should be raised and if so, what effect, if any, would it have on the state. Haskell said he believes Connecticut should \u201cabsolutely\u201d raise the minimum age for purchasing a long gun. Dunsby, on the other hand, said he\u2019s \u201cnot sure how much effect that would have.\u201d \u201cYou only have the 21 age limit for handguns, and the other types of guns that we, as a state and society, are worried about, are mostly banned as it is \u2026 so you\u2019re kind of left with recreational guns \u2014 guns used for target shooting and for hunting,\u201d he said. \u201cI want to be careful about doing anything which is going to be prevent someone from using them in recreational ways \u2026 but it certainly is that type of legislation that, if proposed, I would look at it carefully.\u201d Although he thinks it\u2019s \u201ckind of interesting\u201d how the legislature is \u201cdebating whether to raise the age for tobacco purchases to 21 but people can still buy a long gun at 18,\u201d Duff said, the long gun age limit is actually \u201ca byproduct of the bipartisan legislation for Sandy Hook.\u201d \u201cThere were compromises made to make this a bipartisan bill \u2026 the long gun age [was one of] two pieces of that compromise,\u201d he said. Boucher said age is an \u201cinteresting and important point in the conversation\u201d because it \u201craises the question\u201d of age when it comes to things like enlisting in the military, drinking alcohol and purchasing cigarettes. \u201cThe more we learn about brain development in young people that engage in certain activities, the better we are to make good judgment,\u201d she said. Priorities If only one law could be passed or one bill called in the next legislative session, Stein asked the panel, \u201cwhat do you feel would be the most important thing that we do?\u201d \u201cThere are a lot of issues for us,\u201d said Duff, but if he had to choose, \u201cit would be the ghost guns [because] there aren\u2019t good regulations and there aren\u2019t good restrictions.\u201d Boucher said safe storage or mental health services in schools, while Dunsby said having insurance providers treat mental illness like physical illness. \u201cMental health needs to be treated the same way as physical health,\u201d said Dunsby. \u201cThat\u2019s something the legislature wrestled with in the past session and it didn\u2019t make it through, but sometimes, these things take a few years to come to fruition.\u201d Despite how \u201cfrustrated\u201d he is by Hartford, Haskell said, he has faith that with Duff as majority leader, the ghost guns issue will be passed in the next legislative session. \u201cIt\u2019s controversial,\u201d he said, \u201cbut I think that with bipartisan work put in \u2026 it\u2019s going to get done.\u201d With that said, Haskell said his No. 1 priority would on restricting \u201cthe sale of multiple weapons in one transaction.\u201d \u201cMembers of my family are law-abiding gun owners \u2014 they\u2019ve never had to buy more than one gun in a year, let alone in one transaction,\u201d he said. \u201cI don\u2019t understand why Connecticut [is] one of only a handful of states where there\u2019s no limit on how many weapons you can buy in [a single] visit to a dealer. I think that\u2019s a real problem that should be priority No. 1.\u201d Hughes said finding ways to use technology to secure guns would be her priority. \u201cWhy aren\u2019t we using the technology that\u2019s available to make these guns also available to secure the guns?\u201d she said. \u201cI have to unlock my phone with my fingerprint \u2014 why can\u2019t we do that for a gun?\u201d Hughes said input from teenagers and young people could be helpful in this area. \u201cLet\u2019s hear what your proposals are and let\u2019s act on it. Let\u2019s get it done. Let\u2019s try something more,\u201d she said. \u201cWe\u2019re not going to be the ones that solve your future\u00a0\u2014 you know the technology that\u2019s out there; you know what\u2019s available, and our job is to represent you.\u201d Permits Duff said he believes \u201cshowing a gun permit when asked\u201d is an issue that Connecticut needs to address. \u201cI\u2019m a real estate agent by trade. I have to have my real estate license on me at all times if asked, whether I\u2019m showing a house or not,\u201d he said. \u201cI think somebody with a gun should have a license to show that they have that gun legally. I think that\u2019s just a common-sense type of legislation.\u201d Haskell said he learned at a Brady Foundation campaign that Connecticut has \u201csome of the most outdated concealed carry laws in the country\u201d and police officers don\u2019t have the right to ask for a person\u2019s gun permit. \u201cIf I got pulled over while driving here today, a police officer could ask for my license, but\u00a0if he noticed I was carrying a weapon, he doesn\u2019t have the right to ask for my permit to make sure that I\u2019m allowed to carry that gun,\u201d said Haskell. \u201cThat\u2019s crazy.\u201d Open-carry Duff said he also believes Connecticut\u2019s open-carry laws need to be revised. At a gun reform march he organized in Norwalk this past March, Duff said, \u201cthere were two people who showed up from a totally different part of the state with their guns on their hips ... they were just there to bully. \u201cI don\u2019t know if I\u2019d feel comfortable bringing my kids to a Starbucks or a mall with someone walking around [openly carrying a gun],\u201d he said, \u201cand I\u2019m not sure that makes sense for the laws that we have here in the state of Connecticut.\u201d While he\u2019s \u201call for\u201d public hearings and \u201censuring that we listen to all sides,\u201d Duff said, \u201cthe statistics are clear: we have made our state safer with the gun laws that we have passed.\u201d As Haskell mentioned, Duff said, \u201cour crimes, our deaths, suicide by gun [are] way down since we\u2019ve done our post-Sandy Hook legislation.\u201d \u201cThe more we can prevent that, the better off we are,\u201d he said, \u201cand we\u2019d be sending loud and clear messages as to the values that we have here in the state of Connecticut when it comes to gun rights and safety, and what those rights are.\u201d To learn more about CTTAGV, visit cttagv.org.