Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont doesn’t have the celebrity status of some of his gun control governor colleagues like New York’s Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy or California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. His recent gun control proposal arguably outdoes them all, though.
Connecticut’s governor ripped a page from the Biden administration playbook and attempted to divert attention from failures to address rising crime by calling for increased gun control. Gov. Lamont said in a press conference announcement, “You’re not tough on crime if you’re weak on guns. We’re going to continue to stay tough on guns.”
That’s obfuscation. Gov. Lamont is miring two unrelated issues to confuse voters in a re-election year. He’s running again to keep his job and instead of admitting he’s done nothing to address criminal activity in the state, he’s proposing policy changes that would crush firearm retailers and individual gun rights of law-abiding citizens.
Read that again. Gov. Lamont isn’t proposing to target criminals, but those who abide by the law.
Gov. Lamont explained he was proud that Connecticut already had among the nation’s strictest gun laws. “But that’s not good enough. I’ve just been shocked by what I’ve seen over the past couple of years,” he added.
What he saw in his state are sky high legal firearm sales, the most in five years. That’s occurring in the middle of “defund the police” schemes embraced by Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, and rising crime in those cities. Gov. Lamont’s proposals would do little to hold criminals to account.
Chief among Gov. Lamont’s gun control wish list is the creation of a state-level firearm licensing agency to track and enforce Connecticut’s strict laws.
“The lack of state licensing for gun dealers makes it difficult for the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to enforce the laws,” the governor said.
The governor is ignoring, of course, that every firearm retailer in Connecticut is already required to be licensed and regulated by the federal government through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Another state-level licensing agency is more than just layered bureaucracy. It’s a tool to grind local gun shops into oblivion.
Gov. Lamont’s administration has a track record of dismissing and outright ignoring gun owner and firearm retailer rights and concerns. Just last year officials from the Lamont administration ignored retailer requests for robust guidance and assistance during his poorly-managed transition of the state’s background check system. Now, Gov. Lamont’s office wants to expand their grip on power and licensing authority with little to no desire to dedicate resources to support the proposals.
That won’t stop criminals from illegally-selling guns on the black market or stealing them. The only people impacted by this legislation will be those trying to follow the laws in the first place. Gov. Lamont’s goal is to use the new laws as a bludgeon against the lawful industry ensuring law-abiding Connecticut residents can exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Blue State Red Tape
Gov. Lamont’s proposals include mandatory registration of so-called “ghost guns” manufactured prior to the state’s already existing 2019 ban, expanding a ban on so-called “assault weapons” purchased prior to a 1993 state law to requiring registration, expanding firearm storage laws even though Connecticut already has mandatory storage laws and enactment of a “stop and frisk” policy for police to check carry permits for those who are openly carrying firearms.
Second Amendment supporters are howling. Connecticut’s highest-ranking Republicans on the state’s House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee criticized the governor.
“While lawful Connecticut citizens are, on an almost daily basis, being victimized by brazen criminals with little fear of punishment, the governor has chosen an aged election-year tactic of attacking law-abiding gun owners in an effort to distract from his administration’s utter failure to address criminal justice policies,” Reps. Craig Fishbein and Greg Howard said.
Other Second Amendment and Constitutional rights groups, including the non-partisan Connecticut Citizens Defense League, (CCDL) denounced the proposals. CCDL stated parts of Gov. Lamont’s gun control package, “is out of touch with the people of Connecticut as thousands of residents have become new permit holders within the last year.”
Connecticut is witnessing the same bait-and-switch that President Joe Biden attempted in New York City. He traveled there to address crime, only to pitch a series of gun control proposals. The president didn’t offer any plan to get serious about tacking crime. The same thing is coming out of Hartford. Unfortunately for Connecticut, the governor is just as unserious about locking up criminals as he is serious about locking down gun stores.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.