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Editorial Ban ghost and 3D-printable guns in Connecticut

January 24, 2019

This must be the year that Connecticut takes the next logical steps in protecting children and each other.

We are talking about gun safety and gun violence prevention. Although Connecticut became a leader in gun regulation in 2013, more needs to be done.

Numerous related bills have been proposed in the General Assembly in recent weeks to further gun safety and gun violence protection. It is not too early to become informed, track the bills, and testify when committees have hearings.

Bills related to ghost guns and printable 3-D guns, in particular, ought to get passed this session. They were raised last year, but were not approved by both chambers.

Ghost guns are untraceable. They have no serial numbers because they are assembled without much effort at home from parts ordered over the internet. Anyone — even teenagers — can get one.

In testimony before the Judiciary Committee last year, Westport First Selectman James Marpe called the possibility of unregulated ghost guns a “very real threat to public safety.” People at Staples High School faced “hours of emotional turmoil” while police responded to a tip in February that a student talked of carrying out a mass shooting. The tense situation was prolonged because police did not know whether the student had a ghost gun.

How large of a problem ghost guns are in the state, and how many end up in criminal hands, is unknown because they are unregulated. But the sense is that they have been growing as a way to get around stricter gun legislation adopted after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012.

Two freshmen state senators, Alexandra Bergstein of Greenwich and Will Haskell of Westport, both Democrats, introduced legislation to ban ghost guns.

Bergstein submitted Senate Bill 89, “An Act Concerning Ghost Guns,” and Haskell submitted Senate Bill 158 to “ban guns without serial numbers and regulate those which are sold in a form requiring the purchaser to finish assembly or that are homemade.” Both were referred to the Judiciary Committee.

In the House, 10 Republicans, mostly representing Fairfield County towns, proposed House Bill 5725 to “prohibit the sale or manufacture of any firearm that does not have a serial number or is homemade by any means, including 3D printing.”

The bipartisan support against ghost guns is encouraging. Gov. Ned Lamont, while a candidate, pledged support to ban ghost and 3D-printed guns, which are made of plastic, have no serial numbers, and therefore are untraceable.

Do-it-yourself firearms, such as the 3D-printed guns and home-assembled ghost guns, should not be allowed to continue operating outside of lawful regulation.

Other proposals to watch for this session include Senate Bill 60, submitted by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney of New Haven, to require anyone openly carrying a gun to show a permit if requested by police. Several were introduced regarding safe storage of firearms (SB 91 and HB 5345) and parental responsibility (HB 5431).

This is the time to take the next steps to make Connecticut safer.

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