HARTFORD – In an effort to curb gun violence, a state representative is shining a light on an existing law which he feels does not impede on Second Amendment rights.
At a press conference Friday, State Representative Arthur O’Neil announced plans to send a letter to 45 states with the copy of the Connecticut state statutes concerning risk warrants. He said there are at least four other states that have similar legislation: California, Oregon, Washington and Indiana.
The Risk Warrant Legislation was put in place months after the workplace shooting at the Lottery headquarters in 1998.
“It has proven to be effective in separating people who are likely, we believe to commit acts of violence, from firearms which would enable them to make those acts of violence far more deadly,” Rep. O’Neill said.
The law helps remove guns from any "person posing a risk of imminent personal injury to self or others."
In order for this to happen, a state’s attorney or two police officers would have to conduct an independent investigation and determine probable cause exists. A judge would then have to sign a warrant in order for firearms to be removed from a person, under the condition there is no reasonable alternative available to prevent the person from causing harm.
“This is the type of statue that even somebody like myself who strongly supports Second Amendment gun rights can get behind because it can actually protect people, it can actually save lives while at the same time ensuring there is due process,”
Rep. Doug Dubitsky said. “this requires a hearing before a judge, this requires an actual investigation and not just an Ex Parte statement by somebody that's got a gripe.”
Since having the law on the books, Rep. O’Neill said there have been about 1,500 cases.
“I believe this law has probably saved dozens perhaps hundreds of lives of people because we’ve prevented situations such as the one that occurred in Florida,” he said.
He believes not enough people are aware of the law in Connecticut or around the country.
“What the federal government could conceivably do, I suppose is try to encourage the states as they do with so many things, by offering some additional funding for the implementation of this kind of legislation.”
Rep. O’Neill said he plans to send out a letter and package of materials to other states that explains how the law works. He’s hoping more states will enact similar measures.
He said he’s also working to make sure police departments and schools in Connecticut are aware of the law, to curb gun violence.