Candidates clash over gun control as group sues over Connecticut’s assault weapons ban
A Second Amendment group is suing to overturn Connecticut's strict gun restrictions. Democrats hope the move will elevate gun control as a key issue in this year’s race for governor.
In a new federal lawsuit, the National Association for Gun Rights argues the state’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is unconstitutional. Connecticut lawmakers passed the restrictions with wide bi-partisan support in 2013, following the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Legal analysts expected a lawsuit after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer established a tougher standard for gun restrictions.
Gov. Ned Lamont is vowing to fight the lawsuit.
“When it comes to the safety of the people of our state, we must stand up and do what is right,” he said. “That is why I proposed strengthening, not weakening, our assault weapons law earlier this year.”
Democrats hope the lawsuit energizes voters. On Friday, they held a news conference with violent crime victims at a memorial garden in New Haven.
"It has to stop,” said Marlene Pratt, whose son was murdered almost 25 years ago. "We were up in Hartford with Gov. Lamont, and Gov. Lamont had pledged to us that there would be something done."
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz is running a television ad implying Republican Bob Stefanowski will weaken gun laws. Stefanowski’s running mate, state Rep. Laura Devlin, says Democrats are fear mongering.
"Bob Stefanowski has stated very clearly he would not change Connecticut's gun laws and he would enforce Connecticut's gun laws,” said Devlin.
On Friday, Stefanowski repeated that promise.
“Connecticut has the strongest gun laws in the entire country and that’s the way they should stay,” he said in a statement. “But I will also use my platform as Governor to urge federal action in Congress on comprehensive solutions that protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners while strengthening federal laws that prevent those who pose a risk to themselves and others from getting their hands on a gun.”
But in a secretly recorded video in 2018, Stefanowski said this about the Sandy Hook law: "In my view, [House Bill] 1161 is not a good bill. I will veto any legislation that makes it tougher on gun owners."
Now, Devlin says they're even willing to consider new laws -- like registering all ghost guns and mandatory trigger locks.
"That's all interesting and something we can certainly explore,” she said. “But again, if we're talking about gun violence in the inner cities, I don't think that, that is coming from law-abiding gun owners."
Gun rights groups say the issue is on the ballot this fall.
"We need a governor in office that takes the gun violence seriously and wants to actually create gun laws that are going to save lives,” said Jeremy Stein, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.