States are supposed to report persons who have been involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment so the information can be considered in background checks, but it is not done consistently and affects a relatively small number of individuals.
"Apparently there has been some disagreement between police and the board of firearms examiners on what is a proper line of inquiry on determining suitability," Looney said of language that clarifies that.
"If they are going to do a rigorous review, at least they would have the authority to do it," Looney said of the requirement that an applicant allow the release of documents that would have a bearing on suitability.
He did not think the proposals are constitutionally suspect, all of which have been sent to the attorney general's office for review.
Scott Wilson, who heads the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, disagrees and feels the majority of the bills under review are wrongheaded. "I don't think they would do anything to stop the Sandy Hook tragedy. A lot of it is piling on law abiding citizens of the state."
A bill proposed by Bye that would put a 50 percent tax on ammunition would "just be a detriment to training" at the fire range, Wilson said. He also defended the board of examiners as knowledgeable participants against "overreach by state bureaucrats."
Looney said eliminating the examiners was proposed by police who "believe the board often tilts toward granting permits in overruling police denial of permit."
Other situations which could be used to deny a permit, beyond "psychiatric disabilities," which includes attempted suicide, are participation in violent crime, distribution of a controlled substance, association with persons not eligible to own a firearm, incidents of workplace violence, cruelty to animals, bad military service records, incidents of domestic violence or the existence of restraining orders.
Also, those who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital could be denied a permit for five years, rather than the current 12 months.
Wilson sees the issues of medical records as a privacy violation. "We as an organization do not want to see firearms falling into the wrong hands, but it is hard to look into the future to see who will be a threat," he said. On gun security, he would not favor officials checking on the safe storage of guns in a home.
Looney would expand the assault weapons ban to all firearms which accept a large capacity magazine and feature one other design feature, rather than two, which federal lawmakers have also proposed. He would require permits for long guns, as well as handguns, which would then be shown to buy ammunition.
Background checks would apply to private sales and gun shows, and magazines greater than 10 bullets would be banned. "Hunters would not need large capacity magazines to engage in their sport," he said.
On the gun offender registry, Looney said it would be particularly important in urban areas for those who finish their sentences but are not followed by parole officers. This information would be accessible to law enforcement only with individuals on it reporting to police for five years.
"They are called end of sentence releasees and they are the ones with the highest rates of recidivism," said Looney, who always mentions the need for more control over access to guns to lessen the interpersonal violence that takes place in cities, as well as those instances of mass murder.
The Democratic leader wants the state to prohibit an individual from buying more than one pistol or revolver a month, which he said police feel would slow the resale of weapons to the black market. He would require safe storage of firearms not only in households with children under age 16, but where persons prohibited from owning a gun live.
In another permit change, an individual could only apply to authorities in their town of permanent residence and do so every 12 months in the aggregate, which would not allow people to shop around.
Looney said another bill would ban a broader category of ammunition to include all incendiary and exploding and armor piercing ammunition.
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