Referencing his concerns about the language in the underlying legislation, State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) supported three separate pieces of gun-related legislation concerning “ghost guns,” “Ethan’s Law” and safe storage of firearms in motor vehicles.
“I strive to always consider the impacts of each piece of legislation before casting my vote, and while each of these proposals was well-intentioned, I had concerns about the initial language of the bills,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Thankfully, we were able to achieve substantial improvements that protect the rights of legitimate gun owners and I could support all three.”
A ghost gun refers to a homemade firearm without a Federal or Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) approved unique serial number or other identification mark engraved or affixed to it within 30 days of manufacture. Ethan’s Law was crafted in response to the tragic death of a Guilford teenager after he and a friend gained access to the friend’s father’s firearm, and requires gun owners store any firearm, whether loaded or not, in locked cases. The safe storage in a motor vehicle bill was amended to make it a class A misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class D felony for any subsequent offense, to store or keep a pistol or revolver in an unattended motor vehicle if the firearm is not in a securely locked safe.
“I strongly support common-sense legislation when it is crafted in a pragmatic way and I supported the Ghost Gun ban, Ethan’s Law and an enhanced safe storage law because I believe they have the potential to severely reduce or even eliminate future tragedy,” Rep. O’Neill said.
Rep. O’Neill said he had concerns with the language in the original Ghost Gun legislation but was able to support the bill after it was amended to require that the prosecutor prove intent.
“I supported the Ghost Gun legislation because Connecticut’s already comprehensive system of laws designed to track firearms are largely dependent on serial numbers, and mandating home builders affix a serial number is not an onerous requirement,” Rep. O’Neill said. “Sporting rifle 80% lower receiver kits and 3-d printing technology are relatively new for firearm fabrication they may enable unskilled individuals to do something that would have previously been impossible for those without serious gunsmithing skills. Until now, this type of law was unnecessary because the need for advanced knowledge or expensive technology limited the number of people who could make firearms.”
Regarding his support for “Ethan’s law,” Rep. O’Neill said the legislation is a reasonable and logical expansion of existing law that already required firearm owners with minor children in the house keep firearms secured.
After many hours of debate on the House floor, several amendments were passed that allowed Rep. O’Neill to lend his support to creating new rules regarding safe storage of firearms in a motor vehicle. Specifically, a bipartisan compromise strengthens safe storage laws while simultaneously protecting the rights of gun owners to transport firearms in a vehicle.
“The amended legislation allows gun owners to secure a firearm in a locked trunk, gun safe or locked glove box when they’re not in direct contact with their vehicle, such as when they are running errands,” Rep. O’Neill said. “I applaud my colleagues for working diligently to find a compromise position that enhances public safety without eliminating the rights of gun owners.”