Connecticut allowing police to seize firearms from potential criminals
Some gun owners hope to shoot down new law
July 2, 1999
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
Governor John Rowland - State of Connecticut
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