The Mayor’s Leadership On Gun Control Earns Editorial Mention

This article originally appeared in News Times

 

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim cited an “active, thriving black market for guns without serial numbers that are untraceable” and, to no one’s surprise, end up involved in criminal activity.

Regulating homemade guns would not halt the entire black market, but it would be a positive step.

When Westport police responded to a tip that a student at Staples High School talked of executing a mass shooting in February, the tense situation was prolonged because police did know whether the student had “ghost” guns.

Students, teachers and others faced “hours of emotional turmoil while the situation was resolved,” First Selectman James Marpe said.

Ghost guns are unregulated and therefore untraceable. Anyone — even teenagers — could procure one.

These guns have no serial numbers because they are bought through the internet partially assembled, then completed without much effort at home. The equivalent of an AR-15, banned in Connecticut, could be obtained this way.

Ghost guns are a way to get around the law. The law must catch up with them.

A bill before the General Assembly, HB 5540, would ban guns without serial numbers and regulate those that are homemade or require final assembly. Also, it would allow local authorities to speak with immediate family members about the applicant’s suitability to have a permit.

The bipartisan bill passed the Judiciary Committee with a 25-to-16 vote last week. We urge approval by the full House and Senate this session.

Marpe was one of dozens of supporters to offer testimony at a public hearing March 23. He called the possibility of ghost guns a “very real threat to public safety.”

The concern is founded. Last month in Willimantic a parent alerted the police department that a 14-year-old received the “frame or lower receiver” of a gun in the mail. An investigation determined the teen already had the upper portion and assembly pieces to make a capable firearm.

The numbers of ghost guns in Connecticut are unknown, by their very nature, but the sense is they have been growing in response to stricter gun legislation enacted after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy five years ago.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim cited an “active, thriving black market for guns without serial numbers that are untraceable” and, to no one’s surprise, end up involved in criminal activity.

Regulating homemade guns would not halt the entire black market, but it would be a positive step.

The thought of a 14-year-old with a drill being able to build and illegally own a firearm should be enough to scare anyone. But some gun rights supporters have argued against the bill.

For many it’s a hobby, they say. “We have the right to want to learn and expand upon our knowledge of the manufacture and design of arms. Saying we must cripple our ideas (just because it’s firearms related) is wrong,” testified E. Jonathan Hardy, an executive member of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and a Waterbury gun salesman.

No ideas would be crippled by requiring home-assembled guns to be registered the same as legally purchased ones, and the owner — of legal age — should be required to get a permit as for any other firearm.

Connecticut must protect public safety and regulate ghost guns.

This article originally appeared in News Times