PUBLIC SAFETY & SECURITY COMMITTEE

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

5408

Title:

AAC THE PRESENTATION OF A CARRY PERMIT

Vote Date:

3/10/16

Vote Action:

JFS to Floor

PH Date:

3/3/16

File No.:

 

SPONSORS OF BILL:

PS Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

After incidents across the State a need was expressed the abolish confusion regarding the open carry law and reasonable suspicion required by law enforcement to ask for a permit.

Substitute Language, LCO # 3038

This revised language adds that a law enforcement officer may ask for the presentation of a pistol permit only when the holder of the weapon is observed to be carrying the gun OPENLY and it is VISIBLE to the law enforcement officer.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Kevin Kane from the Chief State's Attorney's Office offered oral testimony in support of the bill, explaining the need for clarification around this currently “gray” area. As it stands now police officers are asking people who are observed to be openly carrying for a permit based on the need to have a permit to openly carry. Those in opposition of the bill are saying reasonable suspicion is necessary to ask for a permit, not simply the presence of a gun.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Po Murray, President of the Newtown Action Alliance testified in support of the bill noting that openly carrying firearms in public is a safety issue and especially in Newtown who is still struggling to recover from the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Ron Pinciaro, Executive Director of CT Against Gun Violence testified in support of the bill citing the recent incidents at a Subway Sandwich shop in Bridgeport and a Wal-Mart in Hartford where members of the public refused to comply with an officer's request for the permit.

Chiefs Paul Melanson and Paul Fitzgerald representing the CT Police Chiefs Assoc. testified in support of the bill stating that it should be clear to anyone openly carrying a weapon that the presentation of a permit is necessary to ease public fear and avoid putting officers in the middle of what can turn into a potentially deadly situation.

CT Alliance of City Police submitted written testimony in support of the bill stating that “because the gun owner must carry the permit, we believe that it is reasonable for a police officer to ask to see the permit…”

Marty Isaac, President of Ct Against Gun Violence testified in support of the bill stating that current law only allows police to ask for a permit if reasonable suspicion of a crime exists, this put law enforcement in a precarious position as they may have to watch & wait for an offense.

Jane Eyes, Director of Social Policy for the League of Women Voters submitted written testimony indicating that “increasingly persons are carrying handguns openly in public and in stores in CT. This is very intimidating to shoppers.” Passage of this bill would be a common sense solution and alleviate tension between the officer, permit holder and the public who called in the complaint.

Ricardo Lopez, Vice President of the Bridgeport Police AFSCME Local 1159 testified in favor of the bill. Mr. Lopez was involved in the incident in Bridgeport and stated that passage of this bill could have avoided the entire incident.

The Public Safety & Security Committee received 100 pieces of written testimony from residents across CT voicing their support for the bill and encouraging passage to eliminate future incidents.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Scott Wilson, President of Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) testified in opposition of the bill stating that passage would open the door to harassment of law abiding citizens.

Christopher Kopacki CT State Liaison for the National Rifle Association of America submitted written testimony in opposition of the bill claiming that it was a violation of constitutional rights.

Subira Gordon, Legislative Analyst with the African-American Affairs Commission submitted written testimony in opposition of the bill indicating that the bill as proposed raises some concerns. Gordon expressed concern that African Americans are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and that passage of the bill would expand the abilities of law enforcement to come into contact with individuals based on a perception and not an actual action.

Robert Crook, Director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen submitted written testimony in opposition of the bill indicating that the bill would violate a citizens' freedom from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. This bill would be an infringement upon the second amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

The Public Safety & Security Committee received 56 letters voicing opposition to the bill from residents across CT who feel the bill is a violation of constitutional rights.

The Public Safety & Security Committee received opposition in the form of 66 form letters from members of the CCDL who reside across the state.

Reported by: Jamie Hobart

Date: 3/16/16