Lamont's gun ban finding few legislative allies, but lots of love in the media

Lamont's gun ban finding few legislative allies, but lots of love in the media
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s call to ban the possession of so-called assault weapons throughout the state hasn’t received the warm reception that the Democrat was hoping for, even among his fellow lefties in the state legislature. In fact, at this point it’s unclear whether Lamont’s plan to remove the grandfather clause from the state’s existing “assault weapons” ban and force existing gun owners to dispose of them either by handing them over to police or removing them from the confines of the Nutmeg State will get a hearing, much less a floor vote in either chamber.

There’s at least one group of Lamont fans who are fully on board with the governor’s proposal, though they do acknowledge it’s “risky”; not to the constitutional rights of Connecticut residents, for which they have no concern, but for the governor’s political future. The editorial board of Hearst Media Connecticut, which owns eight daily papers, more than a dozen weeklies, and several online news outlets as well, has embraced Lamont’s gun ban in a new piece that boldly proclaims there are “benefits” to “trying to take away guns“.

Any such flip in a law would be a challenge, but the notion of opting to seize guns is so daunting that Lamont has drawn no real support, even from traditional Democratic allies.

Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, told the Connecticut Mirror that he doesn’t see support in the General Assembly.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, was even more blunt, telling The Day that “We made a promise to people, we need to maintain that promise.” And that’s from someone who opposed the law in the first place.

Even gun control advocacy groups recognize it as being too aspirational.

That doesn’t mean any of them wouldn’t prefer to see such firearms gone from public use.

Lamont has learned to read the tea leaves himself in the last four years, but also commented that “If I don’t try now, who will try?”

Let’s not be too quick to malign Lamont for acting on emotion, as gun lobbyists have done. Democratic leaders voice fear that his initiative would distract from progress in getting more ghost guns and handguns off the streets.

But revisiting the same issues year after year for the past decade hasn’t sparked enough change. Lamont could draw more attention to the cause by being more brazen. If nothing else, that might nudge the needle. It could inspire more success in buyback programs and the like.

First of all, a sincere note of thanks to the editorial board for making it explicitly clear that yes, they do want to take your guns. In fact, as far as the Hearst Media editorial board is concerned, most Democrats and gun control advocates want to take away your guns too… they just believe that it’s not politically feasible. Given the repeated claims that “no one wants to take your guns,” it’s somewhat refreshing to see anti-gun advocates at least admit the obvious.

Any points the editorial board gets for honesty, however, are far outweighed by their idiotic stance on telling tens of thousands of Connecticut residents to either get rid of their guns or become felons. Nowhere in their piece do the editors deign to question the constitutionality of Lamont’s proposed ban. They say that Lamont has learned to read the tea leaves, but they never bother to consider why, exactly, removing the grandfather clause is problematic for many Democratic lawmakers and even some gun control groups in the state.

That, to me, is the most important part of this story. Connecticut has a Democratic-dominated legislature, so why aren’t they willing to fall in line behind Lamont, who just handily won re-election? And why is the head of the state’s largest gun control group telling reporters that taking guns away from their lawful owners isn’t on his wish list, and is instead focused on making sure there’s “sufficient funding for community violence interruption and intervention”?

It’s not that Connecticut Democrats have suddenly started to channel their inner Charlston Heston here. Some of the same lawmakers panning Lamont’s gun ban say they want to go after “ghost guns” and “large capacity” magazines, so gun control is definitely still on the table in the next session and Lamont will undoubtably try to twist some arms and apply pressure to get the strongest anti-gun measures he can. Still, I think it’s worth exploring why the supposedly popular idea of taking “battlefield weapons of war off the streets” is meeting with such resistance from so many gun control supporters in the state, and we’ll be taking a deeper dive into what’s happening in Connecticut next week on Cam & Co. I suspect there are several factors at play here, ranging from political expediency to a sincere belief that taking guns that are rarely used in crime away from legal gun owners who rarely commit crimes isn’t the best way to reduce violent crimes from taking place, but I’m looking forward to exploring this with some folks who are directly involved in the fight over modern sporting rifles to hear their take on Lamont’s trouble getting traction for his gun ban plan.