Posted on February 16, 2018 by admin
In an effort to curb gun violence, State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) today announced he will be sending a personal letter and a copy of the Connecticut state statute concerning risk warrants to the Presiding Officers of each state legislature that has not adopted this type of law to aid in their consideration of legislation that can make a difference without impeding the rights of legal gun owners.
“The senseless gun tragedies across our nation have forced state legislatures, including Connecticut, to look deep into their laws to close loopholes and strengthen protections for innocent citizens,” Rep. O’Neill, a longtime member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said. “After the horrific workplace shooting at the Lottery headquarters in 1998, Connecticut was the first state to craft “risk warrant” legislation to allow police, with a judge-signed warrant, to remove firearms from any ‘person posing risk of imminent personal injury to self or others.’ This already strong law was updated in 2013 to also include the seizure of ammunition.”
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.
Representative O’Neill, one of the principal authors of Connecticut’s risk warrant legislation, said allowing police to interview those reported as posing an imminent risk to themselves or others puts law enforcement and the courts on notice of a potential threat before a tragedy takes place. Under current law, someone who fears for their safety can go to the police and seek a risk warrant against someone based on probable cause if they feel threatened. The applicant need not be a spouse or cohabitant with the individual they are seeking the warrant against. This application can be made 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, and upon processing, a seizure of weapons can take place in as little as a few hours.
Rep. O’Neill says risk warrants allow police to be involved in the process much quicker than a temporary restraining order, and can be requested by anyone who feels there’s a credible risk and not just a spouse or cohabitant. The law has been litigated, judged constitutional, has been used hundreds of times and has probably prevented dozens perhaps hundreds of shootings, he said. Rep. O’Neill also said the law, had it been utilized, may have prevented the tragic events in Sandy Hook and Oxford.
“Connecticut’s risk warrant law can have an immediate and positive effect to reduce gun crimes and I’m sharing our law with my colleagues in other state legislatures to assist their efforts to stop these horrific and disturbing incidents from happening in the future,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Hopefully, by bringing more attention to this already strong legislation we can reduce these incidents and prevent another tragedy. Unfortunately, this law is not as widely known as it should be.”
After the Sandy Hook shooting took the lives of 20 students and 6 educators, Connecticut passed some of the strongest gun laws in the country, including placing strong restrictions on gun possession and ownership, bans on specific firearms and features and restricting people in mental health treatment or with mental health issues from buying or possessing a firearm within the state.