In response to the recent Florida school shooting, State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) on Wednesday attended a student forum at Pomperaug High School to allow students and faculty to express their concerns and discuss school safety in a positive, non-disruptive way.
Students nationwide called upon their friends to join a national school walk out on Wednesday, March 14, to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, and to draw attention to school violence. Many districts held programs within their school to facilitate the conversation without upsetting classes or creating potentially dangerous situations with large numbers of students congregating outside or without adequate supervision.
Instead of a walkout, Principal Glenn Lungarini worked with students and faculty to develop a positive, student-led program to discuss their concerns regarding school safety and gun violence while respecting the rights of all students. Part of that program included inviting State Representative O’Neill to answer questions and talk about both current and proposed state law.
“I’m grateful to the Pomperaug students for inviting me to be part of this difficult but necessary conversation,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Gun violence and school safety are incredibly important issues and while Connecticut already has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, we need to make sure people know the laws currently on the books that could prevent such tragedies in the future.”
After first providing his contact information and inviting the audience to reach out directly with concerns and questions, or if they would like to discuss these topics in more detail, Rep. O’Neill alerted the audience to Connecticut’s “risk warrant” legislation that allows police, with a court-issued warrant, to remove firearms from any person deemed to pose a threat to him or herself or others.
Under Connecticut General Statute 29-38c, seizure of firearms and ammunition from persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury to self or others can occur after a recommendation to a judge by a state’s attorney or assistant state’s attorney, or by any two police officers, that probable cause exists that the individual poses such risk, and that such person possesses one or more firearms and those firearms are accessible. Complaints by the state’s attorney or police officers can only be made after an independent investigation determined probable cause exists and that there is no reasonable alternative available to prevent such person from causing imminent personal injury to himself or herself or to others with such firearm.
To date, Connecticut has successfully implemented this law about 1,500 times.
“Unfortunately, many people do not know about this important law,” Rep. O’Neill said. “I feel Connecticut’s risk warrant law is the best in the nation, and it has and will continue to save lives within our state. If you see something, please say something.”