Bill requiring gun owners to carry, show pistol permits up for d - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bill requiring gun owners to carry, show pistol permits up for debate

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

A controversial bill was considered on Thursday that would require all pistol owners to carry their permits and show them if ordered to do so by police.

The Public Safety and Security Committee discussed it at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Rep. Steven Stafstrom of Bridgeport, Bill 5408's co-sponsor, said it would close a loophole in state law.

Some gun owners, however, call it a huge violation of privacy.

Nearly a dozen comments were posted on the state's hearing testimony website. All of them were opposed to the bill.

The proposal seeks to repeal part of the current Connecticut law that requires police to have reasonable suspicion of a crime and observe a pistol to ask for someone's pistol permit. Under the new law, police would be able to demand and take someone's pistol permit if they think that person might have a pistol on them. There wouldn't have to be reasonable suspicion of a crime.

Stafstrom, a Democrat, said the state shouldn't need legislation to have lawful gun owners show police their permits.

However, Republican Rep. Vincent Candelora of North Branford said he does not support the bill.

"We need to [be] very clear that individuals have a right to privacy and you can't be subject to search and seizure just because the police feel like it," said Candelora.

An incident on a beach boardwalk in West Haven sparked the debate over gun permits.

A woman called police after seeing two men were walking with their guns showing, and one of them was arrested after he refused to let police see his permit.

"I don't think we are taking away anyone's right to bear or own guns, it's just how do we enforce on today's society? We have ads on tv...'see something say something'," said State Rep. Steve Dargan, who sits on the Public Safety Committee.

He said police have the right to ask for a permit, as long as they suspect a crime or something suspicious.

But some feel this could be a problem, and could give police too much power.

"There's a clause in the statute that says person needs to be under suspicion for them to produce that permit -- and we think that's fair, if they are not breaking the law and going about their business, they should not be asked to produce permit," said Scott Wilson of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League.

Supporters point out that people are required to show hunting and fishing licenses, and a driver's license if you are pulled over.

The vote is expected to come in the next few weeks.

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