HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) teamed up with his friend and lead singer of the band, “Blues Traveler,” John Popper, in support of two bills designed to reduce gun deaths in Connecticut by targeting ways potential criminals could circumvent existing firearm legislation.
The two submitted testimony on HB 5542, which concerns bump stocks, ahead of a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee in Hartford on Friday. Rep. Frey co-sponsored this bill in the legislature, as well as another piece of gun safety legislation, HB 5540 regarding ghost guns. Both were among the topics of the public hearing.
Rep. Frey described the bills as “reasonable proposals”, which could prevent future tragedies without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
HB 5542 would ban the sale or transfer, possession, manufacturing or use of bump stocks or other accessories to increase the rate of fire of a firearm. As Rep. Frey noted, public awareness of bump stocks and similar devices increased after the Las Vegas mass shooting in October, when the shooter primarily used a bump stock on his AR-15 to allow automatic firing, resulting in 58 deaths and 489 wounded. Fully automatic weapons have been illegal since 1986.
“Clearly, the use of bump stocks is an effort to circumvent the 1986 federal ban on fully automatic weapons,” said Rep. Frey. “These are simple, easy-to-use devices that increase the firepower and killing power of firearms, and gun owners I have spoken with agree that there is no legitimate need for bump stocks or any other device that generates a repeated action of a firearm trigger. These devices have been used too many times by individuals with the intent to hurt and kill others. I strongly believe in the passage of this bill.”
Rep. Frey also called upon his friend and lead singer of the band “Blues Traveler,” John Popper, to submit testimony in support of the bump stock ban. Popper, a Connecticut native, is an avid gun enthusiast and weapons collector who also supports outlawing ways to circumvent gun law, describing bump stocks as mostly a novelty used by hobbyists who want the experience of firing an automatic weapon.
“The first purpose of the act of shooting any weapon – from a bow to the most modern of weapons – is to direct the projectile as accurately as can be directed by the releaser of said projectile…in short, the shooter is responsible legally and morally for where his bullet goes. By design, these after-market stocks run exactly opposite to that premise, and thereby cannot be justified by any shooter who practices the discipline of shooting in any safe, sane way, and that includes any who shoot true fully-automatic weapons,” Popper wrote in his testimony. “The addition of these bump stocks lessens accuracy and in doing so, they are fundamentally more dangerous.”
Rep. Frey is also advocating for HB 5540 to prohibit “ghost guns” – guns without serial numbers. The legislation essentially regulates all firearms that are sold in a form requiring the purchaser to finish assembly of the weapon or any gun that is homemade.
In his testimonies to the committee, Rep. Frey related his personal connection to gun violence.
“Gun violence has touched me too close for comfort,” said Rep. Frey. “I have twin nieces and a nephew who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago. Although they both survived the horrific shooting, they have suffered from the negative impact this event had on their lives.”
Noting his past support of Connecticut’s gun laws, Rep. Frey urged the committee to pass the bills through to the House.
Currently, both bills await consideration by the Judiciary Committee.