Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Open Letter to Joint Committee on Judiciary

Honorable Judiciary Committee members,

I want to thank you for your time today going over multiple gun related bills.  It was a real privilege for me to see our state's government in action.  In today's day and age, too many assume government officials are not approachable or able to be influenced.  The humility many of the members present showed was commendable, and I thank you.

I did not submit testimony today, opting for watching and listening to the proceedings until about 4:30 when I had to leave.  I would like to recap my takeaways from today's comments and request that you take appropriate action in the coming days.

Ref SB 1094 - I believe the public made it clear that this bill will do significant economic damage and open the state to serious litigation if this bill were to pass.  Furthermore, arguments were made that there is no detailed proof that reducing the size of allowable magazines would reduce crime in anyway, but would add hardship to 65-70% of handgun owners, and 99% of rifle owners.  This committee must vote this "knee-jerk reaction" bill down.

Ref SB 1096 - Sen. Kissel repeatedly asked those opposed to 1094 about their stance on 1096. I was less than thrilled with the responses.  Mostly people were against it because they are against all gun legislation.  There was one testimony detailing the reloading issue where feasibly a person who is disallowed to own a firearm for legal reasons would still have ammunition.  This felt like reaching.  I happen to support the intent of 1096.  Make no mistake.  Gun owners are strickly for tougher enforcement of gun laws, and tougher punishments for gun crimes.  If the addition of ammunition in the statutes referenced in this bill gives the police a bigger set of teeth when dealing with criminals, then I am for it.  If this is yet an additional tool that will be barely used, then it will not help.  As one verbal testimony from today pointed out, we have a punishment problem.  We want stronger and more harsh punishments for those who commit crimes with firearms.  This is the fastest, most cost effective means of reducing gun crimes.

Ref SB 1148 - I cannot recall any testimonies about this bill.  I am ambivalent.  

Ref SB 1206 - This bill had a few testimonies, and all told, I believe that the group was summarily for the bill so long as a better definition of "interfere" was done.  Personally, I agree.  You should be free to videotape an officers actions so long as you are not an interference. I recognize the sensitive nature of that footage, but in this case, I believe that personal freedom should rule the legislation.  In the case of a misuse of that information, let a civil case be brought.

Ref SB 1210 - This bill was not nearly as clear in the testimony.  I feel like it got lost in the 1094 discussion which is unfortunate since this bill has real opportunity to become law. There were a few attempts to clarify 'castle doctrine' status in CT.  I believe that Sec. 53a-20 as is constitutes a fairly decent castle doctrine stance.  The question at the heart of these pieces of legislation is who should be given the "benefit of the doubt" in situations where there is a victim and an assailant.  By adding the "Presumption" clause, the legislature will be helping the victim by placing the requirement on the assailant to prove that the belief was unreasonable.  I believe this is a good addition to the statutes and should be passed.

Ref HB 6473 - I do not remember any verbal testimonies on this before I left, but this "three strikes" bill coincides with my earlier comments about wanting violent crimes punished harshly.  I support this bill's intent.  I would feel uncomfortable speaking to its specifics without further review.

Ref HB 6490 - The testimonies about this were correct in saying that CT can and should push to complete this federal mandate, and take the financial benefits of doing so early.

Ref HB 6615 - I believe the representative from the ACLU who gave testimony to this bill is right that Tasers should be considered potentially lethal.  Good practice dictates training requirements, etc. so i am unsure why it needs to be legislated.  Furthermore, care should be taken to know the real financial impact of Section 3.  If it can be done inexpensively, then so be it.  Tasers are tools for peace officers.  They should not be misused. However, if an unfortunate incident with a Taser leads to a death or other permanent harm, the peace officer should not be responsible.  We should not legislate to the point where Taser use is discouraged.  They are a good tool.

Ref HB 6616 - There was one verbal testimony that I remembered referencing this bill.  I felt bad for that presenter as his issue was surrounded by all the gun talk.  Again, I am ambivalent.

Thank you for your efforts and service to our state.  I look forward to reading the votes for the above bills in the coming days.

-Dwayne Boulden


Here is a listing of today's public hearing testimonies.

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