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Gubernatorial candidates on gun safety

August 8, 2018

JOE GANIM, D: “I go all the way back to the early ’90s in the General Assembly with police chiefs helping to support at times a very questionable passage of the assault weapons ban in Connecticut. I was down in D.C. with mayors and police chiefs ... I sued the gun industry for inherently dangerous weapons. ... Been loud and clear on what I think are common sense gun laws, how it impacts the urban centers, how it rips apart the fiber of cities with too many illegal guns in the hands of young people. Use my city as an example; use Bridgeport as an example. Bump stock ghost guns. Legislation was up there. I testified with two Harding High School youth about safe schools. About their fears in going to schools ... I’m out over my skis as much as I can be on that. We need to continue to be vigilant. Connecticut has been a leader compared with other states on some of this and I think we need to continue to do that.”

DAVID STEMERMAN, R: “I’m the father of five children. They all go to school. There’s nothing more important to me than at the end of the day that they come home safely. As the governor of the state, no responsibility is greater than keeping our children and our people safe. ... We had a horrible tragedy in our state years ago and we came together in an attempt to try to deal with it. ... I view that additional changes to the gun laws is not what is required. As a business person, an entrepreneur I’m about delivering results and delivering solutions I think there are three areas where we can make a difference. The first is mental health. One of the key areas of focus in the legislation for gun laws was the provision of greater resources and greater services for those with mental illness. And that has not been delivered. Too ... The second is for our law enforcement. To make sure they have the resources the training so they can be most effective both in preventing a shooting and dealing with one when it is in progress. ... The last is when there is an incident that the police are aware of it quickly and get on the scene quickly. Let’s talk about schools themselves. Twenty years ago Israel which has been in a horrible armed conflict for decades, they began to have their schools targeted. ... If we’re serious about this problem, let’s go to Israel, let’s talk to them about how they are doing it.

STEVE OBSITNIK, R: “I’m a military veteran. I’m trained in firearms, the proper use of firearms, and safety. I’ve come to respect weapons, and I also understand the Constitutional rights around them. So, to me, what a governor does is three things: Keep people safe; take care of people who can’t take care of themselves and keep as much money in everybody else’s pocket to grow the economy. So what we’re talking about is safety now, that first one. And that is probably the most paramount thing that a governor delivers. On that law, I understand the emotion at the time. I have said publicly that you’re not electing somebody that’s going to go in there and get rid of that law. And you’re not going to elect somebody who’s going to go after expanding that law. I think that law right now, for better or for worse, it was brought in at a time when the state was having issues — had a large issue — and my calling is not to come in and turn that law over or expand the law. My calling is five steps to 300,000 jobs in eight years. That is our challenge right now as a state. So I’m not looking to grow that law and as I’ve said to people in the gun lobby, I’m not looking to dismantle that law. If you want someone to do that on either side go get that person. I’m here to turn the moving vans around.”

NED LAMONT, D: “After Sandy Hook, we’re going to stay a leader on responsible gun control. ...Background checks are slow and inadequate. I was up (in Hartford) listening to the testimony about the ‘ghost guns,’ and I wasn’t an expert on ghost guns and I did little research and I was shocked that I could go to a website, order up an AR-15. OK, it comes in eight or 15 pieces, allows you to end-run this thing, and I put my credit card on there and my gun arrives five days later. So it just reminds me again that even our gun laws are not equipped for the 21st century, And then you can push back and say, ‘Look, what do you want to do, you’re just Connecticut.’ The internet is broader, so I’d like to get good, strong support from the feds or work with (U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy) on getting this. But people talk about the gun-show loophole. How about the digital loophole? Look, I’m not looking to put a lot of regulations on people, but I do want to upgrade the way things are in this internet economy.”

BOB STEFANOWSKI, R: “I think this governor has focused on the wrong area. I think he’s focused on persecuting law-abiding gun owners and I’ve come out very strong in favor of the Second Amendment. I think the focus needs to be on keeping the guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them. Increased focus on mental health. Increased focus on security in our schools and less focus on people who have gone through the right background checks who have don’t nothing wrong whatsoever and just want to execute their Second Amendment rights. I think it’s unlikely any bill is going to get to my desk for repeal, but I will tell you I would veto any increased restriction on gun owners in this state. ... what we should do is beef up the laws on mental health. The funding for mental health. We’ve got to take care of our kids, and everyone else by the way. I think the law right now on (universal background checks) is sufficient right now. If something were to get on my desk to look at mitigating it, I would look at it.”

TIM HERBST, R: “As someone who lost a constituent at Sandy Hook, Mary Sherlach was a great lady, and her husband is a good friend of mine. And I know a lot of people that were touched, personally, by what happened, at Sandy Hook. And this is a very passionate issue because, we also have 300,000 people in the State of Connecticut that legally have a permit to carry a firearm. And we have 31,000 members the CCDL, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, that represents 31,000 law-abiding gun owners. ... With respect to additional gun control, I would be opposed to that ... Gov. (Lowell) Weicker passed some pretty extensive gun control legislation in 1992 ... So I would ask the question of anyone that says we need additional gun control — we appointed a commission after Sandy Hook to make a series of recommendations based on what happened as to what we as a state and a government, should do. ... much of that report talks about mental health. I could make the argument that nearly six years after that tragedy, have we done all that we should do to address mental health in the state and I think the answer is clearly no. ... I’m a strong proponent of school resource officers.... I am not in favor of arming teachers, but I have no problem with a trained police officer in a school. ... I’m a gun owner, I have a license to carry, I can’t get in my car and drive down the Merritt Parkway and into New York. I can’t do it.”

MARK BOUGTON, R: “At this point I don’t think we necessarily need any more gun laws. I think we have enough gun laws. I think we need, and I said this on the floor of the House right after Columbine, I think we need to make that pivot — and I know every politician walks in and says this — we need to have an intense conversation about mental health services in the state. Not necessarily related to guns. And what we’ve done to people who have been severely disabled and the outpatient care that was promised to them and never materialized. Just from an economic standpoint what that costs a city like Danbury or Bridgeport every day, because they did not get the care that was promised to them. But that requires breaking down silos. It requires getting various agencies to talk to each other. When we identify a young person with a propensity toward violence, we need to be able to share that information with the right people to watch that child, and in some cases because of Hippa and other regulations we’re prohibited from doing that.

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