Legislators hear debate on Connecticut open-carry law revision

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HARTFORD -- The discussion continued in Hartford Thursday afternoon about carrying handguns in public.

The state's public safety committee is looking at amending the state's open carry law via H.B. 5408, which reads in part:

The holder of a permit issued pursuant to section 29-28 shall carry such permit upon one's person while carrying such pistol or revolver. 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 such holder is carrying a pistol or revolver that is observed by such law enforcement officer.

You can read more from H.B. 5408 here.

Right now, police can only ask to see a pistol permit if there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime, but the new language would require an open-carry gun owner to produce a pistol permit whenever requested by police.

"The state has the right to regulate who may or may not carry firearms, has the right to require those people have a permit, require them to carry a permit with them. It's a minor intrusion to require that person to show that permit to a police officer when asked," said Kevin Kane, chief state's attorney.

Supporters of this bill say they have witnessed people openly carrying guns in stores while shopping. Recently in Bridgeport, a man in a Subway who was getting a sandwich refused to show his permit when a police officer asked. The man carrying the gun recorded the entire encounter on his cell phone, and it went viral.

The bill reads that the existing law should be repealed and substituted with language that says the holder of the permit is required to "present such permit upon request of a law enforcement officer."

Supporters say this will eliminate conflicting interpretations of the law.

Those opposed to the plan say the bill is an unnecessary infringement on law-abiding gun owners.

"If you are engaged in a perfectly lawful activity, the police can certainly ask you but you shouldn't be compelled to be able to do anything in that case, they need reasonable suspicion, the same as pulling someone over in traffic," said state Rep. Rob Sampson, a Republican representing Wolcott.

No date has been set for a vote on the proposed language.