Officers from several towns are calling for the passage of a bill that would require people who openly carry firearms to show a permit if asked by law enforcement officials.
The bill, designated House Bill 5408, would clarify the rules for open carrying firearms in Connecticut.
It will require people to carry a permit while carrying a pistol or revolver and then produce that permit if asked by police.
"Such holder shall present his or her permit upon the request of a law enforcement officer [who has reasonable suspicion of a crime for purposes of verification of the validity of the permit or identification of the holder, provided] only when such holder is openly carrying a pistol or revolver that is [observed by] visible to such law enforcement officer," the bill's text states.
The bill would remove the requirement that the officer base the request on that officer's reasonable suspicion of a crime and the need to verify the permit validity of the permittee's identity.
"We support the second amendment, there is no problem with that. What we want to do is safe guard the people who live in Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut," said Bridgeport Police Chief A.J. Perez.
If passed, it would go into effect on July 1.
Officers from Bridgeport, Trumbull and Stratford gathered for a news conference at 11 a.m. to call for the bill's passage. Mayor Joe Ganim and Union leaders with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 also attended.
"The issue for us is that you can see my badge, my uniform and know without a doubt that I'm on your side, we just want the ability to verify your permit, so that we can know you're on our side too," said Bridgeport Police Officer Ricky Lopez.
It took place at the Bridgeport Police Memorial across the street from police headquarters in Congress Street in Bridgeport.
“No one is questioning anyone’s constitutionally protected right to bear arms, but we also have a high degree of gun violence in communities like Bridgeport, so we want to protect the public and make the already dangerous job of being a police officer clearer,” Ganim said. “If you are openly carrying a firearm, you are already required to carry your pistol permit on your person."
Ganim said that all the new bill would do is require people to produce that permit if asked by law enforcement officers.
"We have so many illegal guns on the streets of our community that unfortunately we can no longer assume someone carrying a gun in public is doing so legally," he continued. "Our officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us, this is the least we can do to help them. I urge our General Assembly to pass this bill before the session ends next week.”
Officials said the bill passed by a vote of 16 to 9 in the Public Safety Committee of the General Assembly. It's now awaiting action by the House of Representatives.
The legislative session ends at midnight on May 4.
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