CT governor wants to expand state's "assault weapons" ban to include guns already owned

CT governor wants to expand state's "assault weapons" ban to include guns already owned
AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is throwing red meat to his anti-gun supporters ahead of Election Day, but he’s also reminding the state’s gun owners of the importance of going to the polls. Lamont is currently leading Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski by 11 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average; a rare bright spot for Democrats this election cycle, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see those numbers tighten up after Lamont this week called on lawmakers to criminalize the possession of semi-automatic rifles… including all those currently in the hands of law-abiding gun owners.

 Gov. Ned Lamont said this week that he wants to go after thousands of firearms legally kept in Connecticut under several “grandfather” provisions in the state’s decades-old assault weapons ban, but clarified Thursday that he has not yet discussed specifics with lawmakers.
The governor first made those comments in response to questions following Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate, when he tussled with Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski over the issues of crime and gun control.
“He won’t touch guns,” Lamont said of his rival on the stage.
“I think those assault-style weapons that are grandfathered should not be grandfathered,” Lamont told reporters during a media session following the debate at Mohegan Sun. “They should not be allowed in the state of Connecticut. I think they’re killers.”
When asked whether he was prepared to introduce a bill during the next legislative session to remove the grandfather clause, Lamont said he was but then provided few details when asked how his administration would go about the task of collecting or removing the those weapons that are currently legal to keep.
“Start by making them illegal,” Lamont said. “I think that would be a big difference. That is what you start with.”
Oh, it would be a big difference all right. Turning tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens into felons with a stroke of a pen would be a very big deal, even if Lamont isn’t ready to talk about how his proposed gun ban would be enforced. Would gun owners be told to hand over their firearms to state police in exchange for a few dollars, would law enforcement visit the homes of all those who registered their AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles to confiscate their legally-purchased firearms, or would Lamont instead allow these supposed “weapons of war” to remain in the hands of gun owners unless or until police discovered their possession?
“It certainly wouldn’t happen overnight, you would need to give folks a period of time to properly dispose of it,” said Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Steve Stafstrom, D- Bridgeport, adding a bill to remove one or more of the grandfather clauses from the state’s assault weapons ban is likely to be considered in 2023.
Opponents of the governor’s gun policies, however, said that going after the tens of thousands of legally-owned weapons would be a much more complex and sensitive task.
“If you remove a grandfather provision… I guess the government is proposing confiscation,” said state Rep. Craig Fishbein, R- Wallingford, who is also an attorney for the plaintiffs challenging Connecticut’s existing ban.
It’s hard not to get that impression, especially with Lamont being so cagey about how he’d like to see his proposed gun ban enforced.
Whether or not he can actually get a ban of this type through the Connecticut legislature remains to be seen, however. Lamont tried to enact a host of new gun control legislation this year, but thanks to the grassroots efforts of gun owners and groups like the Connecticut Citizens Defense League the vast majority of the anti-gun language was stripped from the bill before it was approved with support from both Democrats and Republicans.
I’d love for all of this to be a moot point and see Stefanowski replace Lamont in the governor’s office next year, but even a red wave might not be enough to dislodge the Democrat from his current position. Second Amendment advocates across the state should be prepared to be just as engaged and involved in the coming months as they were during this year’s legislative session, and hopefully they can prevent this egregious infringement on the right to keep and bear arms from becoming a part of Connecticut law.