Connecticut Bill a Direct Attack on the Right to Carry – Bearing Arms

Connecticut Bill a Direct Attack on the Right to Carry – Bearing Arms

Connecticut Democrats have introduced a bill that could turn much of the state into “gun-free zones” in the weeks around Election Day, but as Connecticut Citizens Defense League president Holly Sullivan tells Bearing Arms on today’s Cam & Co, the group’s 44,000 members are already rallying to defend their right to carry. 

Within hours of learning about the introduction of HB 5448 last Monday afternoon, the CCDL had issued a legislative alert to members warning them of an upcoming hearing. In just a little more than 48 hours, more than 400 gun owners across the state had submitted their written objections to the bill, compared to less than two dozen supporters of the bill. Sullivan is rightly proud of the grassroots activism from CCLD members, but she also knows that when it comes to the state legislature, even bills that face overwhelming public opposition can easily become law, especially when our right to keep and bear arms is involved. 

“We love seeing the testimony, but the harsh reality is that it’s not a democracy in committee, right? It’s not the number of testimonies that win over legislators. They’re there with their own agenda that they’d like to accomplish this session, so it really has everything to do with the makeup of the legislature.” 

And in Connecticut, that legislature is made up of a majority of Democrats, many of whom have no sympathy at all for gun owners whose Second Amendment rights would be violated by HB 5448. As Sullivan explains, the way the bill is currently written, much of the state’s populated areas would be off-limits to concealed carry in the weeks around Election Day by setting up “gun-free zones” 1000 feet around polling places, ballot boxes, locations where votes are tabulated, and other election-related locations as soon as early voting begins. 

“On top of that you’ve got a lot of local groups like Republican Town Committees that use municipal buildings for their meetings,” Sullivan explained, adding “it’s going to have a disproportionate impact on certain parties versus other parties, where maybe carrying and going to the town hall isn’t that big a deal. But now they can’t participate in municipal functions, in their RTC activities, and these other things.” 

“In my town, which is kind of unusual, none of our voting locations are ‘gun-free zones’ right now,” Sullivan continued. “We have the library, we have a community center, and we have town hall and a firehouse. They kind of made the case that everyone’s used to these locations being gun-free anyway because voting usually takes place in a school. Well, not in my town. Not a single person votes in a school in my town, so we’re not accustomed to that.” 

Sullivan even pointed out to lawmakers that, under HB 5448, volunteer firefighters in the town where she lives would be forced to return home and secure their firearms before heading to the station house to put on their gear and go battle a blaze, at least for fires that break out around Election Day. Is anyone going to be made safer as a result, especially when, as Sullivan points out, supporters of HB 5448 couldn’t point to a single incident in Connecticut involving a concealed carry holder (or anyone else, for that matter) threatening an election worker with a firearm? 

Of course not. This bill is simply a temper tantrum from the likes of Rep. Matt Blumenthal (U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal’s son) meant to force gun owners to disarm themselves or risk a felony charge for inadvertently exercising their Second Amendment rights within a quarter-mile of a drop box or voting booth. It’s about denormalizing gun ownership and demonizing gun owners themselves, not about improving public safety. 

Sullivan says the bill will get at least one more public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee before a vote is held, so there’s still time for gun owners throughout the state to weigh in with their own opposition. Whether that will be enough to derail the bill remains to be seen. Still, the CCDL has already taken the state to court over issues like the ban on so-called assault weapons. Sullivan indicated they’re ready to challenge these new carry restrictions as well if Gov. Ned Lamont ends up signing this assault on our Second Amendment rights into law. Stay tuned, but if you’re a Connecticut 2A advocate, make sure you’re sounding off to your legislators as well.

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