Police And Second Amendment Groups Debate Open Carry Bill

Mar 16, 2017

The General Assembly is considering a bill that would require gun owners who openly carry a weapon to produce their gun permit if asked by law enforcement. Changes to the proposed language in the bill are causing some contention among members of the Judiciary Committee, which held a public hearing on the legislation Wednesday.

The original language of House Bill 6200 stated that police could only request to see the permit if there was reasonable cause that a crime had been committed. The Judiciary Committee’s version of the bill removes that clause, meaning if a person carries a pistol or revolver in plain sight and a police officer asks for his or her permit, they would be obliged to comply, whether there is reasonable cause or not.

Several committee members were concerned by the removal of reasonable suspicion from the bill.

"This committee hears a lot of testimony on a lot of issues making sure that our citizens of all different types are not discriminated against," said Republican state Representative Christie Carpino, "and I have a real fear that if [House Bill] 6200 passes, we're gonna deal with that.

Connecticut Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane testified that the draft language seems reasonable and legal.

"The problem is difficult situations that the police are confronted in. To resolve it, all they have to do is say 'May I see the permit?' And just the mere showing of the permit doesn't seem to be that intrusive," said Kane. "I think a fair balance is to require people to show [the open carry gun permit] if asked."

Other lawmakers on the committee worried that the proposal would make it easier for police to unfairly target minority gun owners. The bill is supported by the Connecticut Police Chief's Association, while Second Amendment groups like the Connecticut Citizens Defense League say it violates the constitution.