Since the Dec. 12, 2012, massacre of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the state has passed several laws to restrict and make it more challenging to own and use a firearm.
Connecticut has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.
On Jan. 26, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont—who has made gun control a priority and been out front on the issue—held a news conference at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford where he announced the second of three sets of gun-control proposals he will introduce this year.
Gun control items that Lamont presented at the conference are focused on preventing mass shootings and feature, as detailed in a statement the governor’s office issued, eliminating “loopholes in the state’s assault weapons ban,” making more severe the “penalties related to the state’s ban on large capacity magazines,” and raising the minimum age to purchase any firearm to 21.
Lamont announced the first set at an earlier news conference on Jan. 23.
The governor is expected by early next week to make public his third set of proposals.
Lamont featured the issue of gun control prominently in his Jan. 3 State of the State address.
Making a Case
At the Jan. 26 conference, Lamont said, “As more and more mass shootings have occurred in the United States over the last decade, federal and state laws have not kept up with the innovative ways firearm companies are manufacturing guns that have the sole purpose of killing the largest number of humans within the shortest amount of time,” Lamont said.
“I want to be clear—we are not talking about guns that have been created for hunting or protection, but rather the focus here is on assault weapons that are being created for mass human casualty. We’ve shown in Connecticut that we can implement laws that respect the rights of Americans to own guns for their own protection and sportsmanship while also acknowledging that we must take actions to protect public safety. These proposals continue that fair, commonsense balance.”
Among those making a statement at the conference was Jackie Haggerty, who was seven years old and in second grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the shooting. As the killer massacred her schoolmates in a nearby room, she huddled alongside a cubby in her classroom.
“Every piece of legislation has loopholes,” said Haggerty. “But if our policies have worked to decrease gun violence, let’s continue to revise them.”
A Gun Rights Voice Responds
In a conversation with The Epoch Times, Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), who watched the news conference live remotely, took issue with comments attendees made at the event.
“There was a lot of misinformation spread at the conference,” said Sullivan. “For example, Lt. Gov.Bysiewicz said that certain firearms banned by Connecticut in 2013, but were eligible to be purchased if manufactured before 1994, are not regulated. Well, that is not true,” she said.
“There are many licensing and legal requirements to own one of those firearms, including obtaining a permit to carry or eligibility certificate, being fingerprinted, undergoing two background checks, and having the transaction on file with the state police, and that includes the state having on record the make, model, and serial number of the firearm—and Connecticut issuing you a unique authorization number.”
And there is Lamont’s proposal to raise the legal age to own any firearm from 18 to 21.
“We don’t support a law that does not allow 18 and 19-year-olds to own and hunt with a rifle,” said Sullivan.
Connecticut and the Firearms Industry
Connecticut has, at least in one area, a cultural and historical dynamic that fosters high emotion and energy on the issue of firearms.
It is the state where the deadliest K-12 mass shooting in American history took place—again, with 20 of the victims being elementary school students.
It also where is located in a segment of Gun Valley, a stretch that takes in the Connecticut Valley and extends into Massachusetts and up to the city of Springfield. Gun Valley is where, in the late 1770s, the industrial manufacture of firearms was launched in America, and which, for hundreds of years, was an important source of employment for the area.
In 2021, many jobs were lost when firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson—based in Springfield since its founding in 1852—departed Gun Valley and moved its headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee.
Iconic firearms makers Colt Manufacturing (Colt), O.F. Mossberg & Sons (Mossberg), and Sturm, Ruger & Co. (Ruger) are all based in Connecticut.
That Colt is still headquartered in the state, its home since 1847, involves something of an odd relationship.
In 2017, with Colt Manufacturing facing financial duress, the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was strident in his criticism of the gun industry—he once called the National Rifle Association (NRA) a “terrorist organization”—provided the company with a needed infusion of cash.
Colt received from the administration a $10 million loan designated for the purchase of the building in which its corporate headquarters was located and also for expanding operations and adding employees.
The money helped Colt rebound and get back on track.
Colt was purchased in 2021 by the Czech firearms company Czeska Zbrojovka (CZG).
Colt still maintains its corporate office in West Hartford.