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Connecticut allowing police to seize firearms from potential criminals

The new gun law is designed to take firearms away from the people who are "mentally disturbed and who shouldn't have them to begin with"

Guns Under Fire

Some gun owners hope to shoot down new law

July 2, 1999
Web posted at: 7:41 p.m. EDT (2341 GMT)

From Correspondent Frank Buckley

WALLINGFORD, Connecticut -- Some Connecticut gun enthusiasts are up in arms about a new law signed this week by Gov. John Rowland that gives police the right to seize firearms from the home of a person whom authorities believe may be considering a criminal act.

It's considered to be the first law in the nation that allows confiscation of a gun before the owner commits an act of violence.

"For them just to come in and blatantly want to take your guns, I believe it's wrong," said one gun owner at the Blue Trail gun range.

"The Constitution is being broken apart, piece by piece," said another opponent of the new law.

Police would have to show probable cause that the gun owner posed an imminent risk. Among the factors to be considered by the judge issuing the gun seizure warrant: Threats or acts of violence, cruelty to animals, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Law passed after shootings at lottery office

Connecticut passed the law after the shootings deaths of four people at the state's lottery headquarters last year by one employee whose behavior had worried co-workers.

"It gives police the authority when it's clear that someone's become dangerous -- and you know they have guns -- to go in and take the guns before a tragedy takes place," said Rep. Michael Lawler.

But challenges are expected on the constitutionality of the law.

Some opponents call it the 'turn in your neighbor' law. They fear some people might attempt to use the law to try to resolve petty disputes or to impose their views about guns on their neighbors.

Some critics, such as gun lobbyist Bob Crook, say there are already too many gun laws on the books that are not enforced.

But he says that in this case, the intent, at least, is on target.

"If the law is enforced, and it's enforced adequately, then what we've done is taken a firearm or firearms away from a person who's mentally disturbed and who shouldn't have them to begin with," said Crook.

Democratic leader sees hope for gun control compromise
June 21, 1999
Roll call: House rejects gun control legislation
June 18, 1999
House approves NRA-backed 24-hour gun show checks
June 17, 1999
More gun laws? Or, more enforcement?
May 27, 1999
Democrats push for immediate House action on juvenile crime, gun controls
May 21, 1999

Governor John Rowland - State of Connecticut
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
National Rifle Association
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