CT governor says you can't be tough on crime "if you're weak on guns"

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Most of the time, anti-gun politicians couch their real agenda with language designed to make them appear moderate; for every Beto O’Rourke bellowing “Hell yes we’re coming for your AR-15” there are a dozen Democrats proclaiming “I support the Second Amendment, but we need a few more commonsense gun safety regulations.”

It’s not that they really are moderate on the issue, of course. They’re simply trying to package their unappetizing ideology in a way that’s palatable to more people.

Every now and then, though, you’ll run across someone who’s willing to give the public a peek at what they really think about the Second Amendment, and put their authoritarian impulses on display for all the world to see. On Monday, it was Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont who made his desire to go after legal gun owners clear.

“We have more damn guns in this state than ever before,” Lamont said with more than a dozen advocates and lawmakers in the Capitol’s historic Hall of the Flags. “We have more legal guns, we have more illegal guns. You’re not tough on crime if you’re weak on guns.”

Got that? According to Lamont, in order to get tough on crime you’ve got to crack down on guns; and he made it clear that he doesn’t really give a damn if they’re legally possessed or not.

In fact, one of Lamont’s proposals for this year is all about making it easier for police to stop and question those carrying a firearm, even if there’s no suspicion of criminal activity. For Lamont and his fellow Democrats, simply exercising your Second Amendment right to bear arms should be reason enough for law enforcement to suspect a crime.

“I want to see 500 more cops on the street by the end of the year,” Lamont said. He proposed identifying chronic juvenile offenders faster and to get them in courthouses, before judges, within 24 hours of their arrests.

Lamont also wants law enforcement officers to have the authority to ask people who openly carry their firearms to show their gun permits. In recent years, legislative attempts to require the presentation of permits have been rejected by lawmakers from urban communities concerned that such requests amount to racial profiling.

If Lamont were simply talking about things like putting more cops on the street and ensuring that juvenile offenders face actual consequences for criminal acts, he’d probably get the support of a lot of Connecticut gun owners. But Lamont is a true believer in restricting the right to keep and bear arms as much as possible. In fact, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League sued Lamont and several police chiefs across the state last year for putting policies in place that made it impossible for many would-be gun owners to successfully apply for the state-mandated license required to own and carry a firearm.

When Ned Lamont says you can’t be tough on crime if you’re weak on guns, what he’s really saying is that the only way to reduce violent crime is to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves with a firearm. Not only does that fly in the face of the Constitution, it’s also a terrible crime-fighting strategy.

It’s also (whether Lamont realizes it or not) an admission that all of Connecticut’s current gun control laws aren’t doing squat to either reduce violence or legal gun owners. The state has imposed all kinds of restrictions on law-abiding gun owners over the past decade, all supposedly designed to make Connecticut a safer place, but last year saw some of the highest homicide totals in decades in cities like Hartford. The state has universal background checks, a ban on so-called assault weapons, and requires a license to own and carry a firearm, as well as to purchase ammunition.

I wouldn’t call that “weak on guns,” but I wouldn’t call it effective at reducing violent crime either. Lamont and his fellow Democrats can easily adopt strategies that focus on those actually responsible for the shootings, carjackings, and killings that are escalating across the state, but they’re choosing instead to make it harder to exercise our civil rights instead. I’d say that doesn’t just put them on the wrong side of the crime-fighting equation, but on the wrong side of history as well.