HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Gun owners are pushing back against a proposed change in Connecticut’s ‘open carry’ law. It is legal to openly carry a firearm in Connecticut if you have a gun permit, but because of several high profile incidents recently, police want to be able to ask gun owners to produce that permit any time they want.
A spokesperson for the CT State Police says this incident in West Hartford back in September is still being investigated. In addition to taking a camera/phone from 27-year-old Michael Picard, a trooper also removed his weapon. Picard was openly carrying a firearm which is perfectly legal in Connecticut because he has a gun permit.
Because of this and similar recent incidents, Connecticut police agencies are seeking to change existing law. Existing law says the police must have “reasonable suspicion of a crime” before they can ask you to produce your gun permit. They want to drop that language, drop that requirement from the law.
Michele McBrien of Beacon Falls was one of the many legal gun owners that told lawmakers today that the proposed change is a bad idea.
“I just don’t feel that the power should be given to anyone to arbitrarily ask to see a permit if you are not under reasonable suspicion of any crime,” said McBrien.
Picard, who was protesting police DUI stops last September when his camera and gun were briefly taken puts it more bluntly, “This bill, 5408, gives police officers the unbridled power to seize people and to harass gun owners on a whim.”
But the Chief State’s Attorney and the Police Chiefs’ Association told lawmakers the law needs to change because the requirement places police in an awkward position when citizens call saying ‘there’s a man with a gun near a school.’
Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson, who’s V.P. of the association asked, “How is the police officer on the street supposed to determine whether he is a legitimate, vetted permit holder, or somebody with maybe ill intent?”
Chief Melanson noted that hunters and fishermen are required to display their license and this should be the same.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection says that Chief Melanson is mistaken. Since fishing and hunting licenses became available on-line, residents are no longer required to display them. Hunters & fisherman are allowed to print out the license and carry it with them, or scan it with their phone so it can be shown if requested by a DEEP officer.