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Thread: Local Gun Articles (Take the Opinion Pole)

  1. #1
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    What nobody mentions is the fact that there are 150,000 plus Permit holders in CT.


    Support Is Growing For Openly Carrying Permitted Weapons

    The Hartford Courant (Front Page with an opinion pole)
    April 18, 2010

    An eruption in a simmering dispute over gun rights occurred when James Goldberg, wearing camouflage clothing and a holstered — and licensed — pistol on his right hip, walked into a Chili's restaurant in upscale Glastonbury, where he intended to pay for a takeout order.

    According to Goldberg, a college-educated, occupational safety engineer, a restaurant employee, concerned by the sight of an armed customer, called the town police department. A goggle-eyed luncheon crowd watched three officers roll up, confront Goldberg and handcuff him.

    "What can we get him for?" Goldberg, 32, says one of the officers asked his colleagues.

    The answer, as it turned out, was nothing.

    A state Superior Court judge dismissed the breach of peace charge police ultimately filed against Goldberg, forcing law enforcement experts to concede that, absent extenuating circumstances, there is nothing in Connecticut law to prohibit licensed gun owners from conducting their lives visibly armed.

    The judge's decision was treated as a vindication by some gun owners in traditionally gun-shy Connecticut. They are joining groups elsewhere in asserting, as Goldberg does, what they say is the right to carry sidearms openly, in public, for protection.

    The "open carry" movement is growing at a time when the federal courts have been looking more favorably on the rights of gun owners than on the authority of governments to restrict gun ownership.

    There are three federal lawsuits pending in Connecticut that challenge the way the state enforces gun laws. In one, Goldberg is suing Glastonbury over his arrest three years ago, claiming he was charged even though there is no state law against openly carrying a sidearm.

    In the other two, Goldberg and M. Peter Kuck, a member of the state Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, argue separately that arbitrary enforcement of state gun laws by biased police officers has denied or delayed the issuance of handgun permits, resulting in a denial of due process rights to gun owners.

    Kuck, as a member of the board that hears appeals from gun owners who have been denied permits or whose permits have been revoked, is indirectly attacking the work of his board. Goldberg argues that he was wrongly denied a pistol permit for nearly two years after the dismissal of his arrest.

    A federal judge in Hartford dismissed both permit suits. But in late March, a federal appeals court in New York overturned the dismissals and sent the cases back to Hartford for further review.

    Balancing Interests

    Goldberg's arrest, the success of the lawsuits and an increasingly vocal open-carry movement have attracted the attention of state law enforcement experts and policymakers who are concerned with balancing the potentially conflicting interests of openly armed gun owners against those who may become alarmed by the sight of guns.

    "I think people have the right to bear arms," said state Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven and co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee. "How they bear those arms in public is another issue. If I'm a store owner and I see someone walk in with a gun, maybe I pull out the gun I keep under the counter. Maybe I call the police. Maybe they come running in with their guns drawn, because they don't know what's going on."

    In the past two years, open carry has become part of the national gun discussion. The Starbucks coffee chain put the issue before a broad audience earlier this year when it decided to allow obviously armed customers into its stores in states that permit open carry. Virginia, Tennessee and Arizona have enacted laws allowing openly armed patrons to drink in barrooms.

    Student gun clubs at Connecticut's state universities joined a national push earlier this month to compel public universities to permit armed students to attend classes.

    Also this month, Connecticut gun owners staged a Second Amendment rally at the state Capitol.

    No one in Connecticut is predicting that the suits or the evolving discussion of gun rights will result in a spike in the number of armed shoppers at suburban malls. But the talk alone has law enforcement officers and policymakers re-examining the existing law and how it should be enforced.

    Even through it may be legal for a permitted gun owner to carry a pistol or revolver in public in Connecticut, the officials say every case is not necessarily legal and they will closely examine those brought to their attention.

    "There is no law that expressly prohibits the open carrying of a firearm by somebody who has a permit to carry it, in and of itself," said Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane. "But there are statutes that could very well be violated, depending on the evidence and the circumstances. And that could lead to arrest, confiscation and forfeiture of firearms that are displayed in violation of those statutes."

    The circumstances to which Kane refers involve how gun owners carry weapons and how members of the public react to an openly carried weapon. If citizens panic and call the police, Kane said, there will be an investigation.

    "Depending on the circumstances, it could constitute a breach of peace, or it could constitute a threatening or it could constitute a public disturbance," he said.

    Business owners can also post signs prohibiting the carrying of weapons on their premises.

    State Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven and co-chairman of the legislature's judiciary committee, acknowledged inconsistencies in the way gun laws have been enforced.

    "People come into this with very doctrinaire views on guns," he said, "and I think that leads to problems with enforcement. I think sometimes people on both sides overlook things that should not be overlooked. They have preconceived notions of what is right and wrong and they act on those."

    When Connecticut gun laws are correctly enforced, Lawlor said, they are among the nation's best in terms of balancing the right to own and bear arms against the maintenance of public order.

    He said the "mature" use of a handgun, something implicit in the law, should protect against public panic.

    "What about people who push this right and they go into a McDonald's wearing a camouflage outfit and a gun?" Lawlor said. "There are people who do this. The criminal law says it is a crime to either intentionally or recklessly create alarm in public. For the same reason it is against the law to stand up in a movie theater and cry 'Fire,' you should be arrested."

    Knowing The Law

    Glastonbury Police Chief Thomas J. Sweeney, in a deposition he gave last month as part of Goldberg's suit, said the arrest at Chili's was the result of concern raised by restaurant staff.

    "You want to walk in, have an open carry, but if people get upset by the manner in which you act and comport and carry yourself, you run the risk of being arrested for it," Sweeney said in the deposition. "I think there are issues when you're inside buildings where you're running a risk of a reaction of other individuals, I think that's problematic, and you may scare people, frighten people, cause alarm."

    Goldberg called his arrest an overreaction by a police department unfamiliar with state handgun laws, something he said happens regularly in Connecticut.

    "In my circumstance, no one pressed any charges, no one was interviewed," he said. "The woman who called 911 called to ask what the concealment law is in the state of Connecticut. And the dispatcher didn't know. If the dispatcher was educated or trained, and answered that you can carry openly or concealed in Connecticut, it should have ended right there. It was unfortunate that what happened to me had to happen to me."

    Goldberg said he is a trained firearms instructor, sells guns at a Newington gun retailer and runs a business that provides security for business executives and entertainment industry celebrities.

    He said he needs a gun for his work and believes he needs to carry it every day, for a variety of reasons: to maintain his familiarity with weapons, for protection, for business reasons and to "stand up" for something that is permitted under the law.

    "I think if you are going to carry a firearm, you should go all the way and carry the firearm so you are comfortable with it," he said. "It becomes something that is a part of you. It's not foreign. If you do it every day as a daily mantra, it's something that becomes an extension of your body.

    "To me, guns are not dangerous. It is an inanimate object. It won't do anything until someone with either good or negative intentions picks it up. We live in a state where we can carry openly or concealed. I don't have a problem with civilians carrying firearms or seeing civilians with firearms."

    Goldberg said his arrest and the arrests of others in similar circumstances show a misunderstanding of the law by members of the public, who think it is illegal to openly carry a weapon in public in Connecticut. He also blamed police officers who are "just uncomfortable with civilians having firearms and people having the right to carry."

    "The state needs to be educated and the people who live in the state need to be educated and know that you can carry openly or concealed and just because you see a firearm doesn't constitute that person breaking the law," he said. "There are a lot of great arguments for open carry in Connecticut."

    On the other hand, he said, anyone who uses a gun incorrectly or uses one to intimidate or frighten people, should be arrested.

    "This was really upsetting to me because in my career I dedicate myself to protecting other people," Goldberg said. "To be construed as someone who is deemed to be unsuitable to carry a pistol, just because someone happened to see it, was very disheartening."

    In past years, the state police have pushed for revisions to state handgun laws that would allow the concealed carrying of weapons but outlaw open carry. The efforts have failed, and there is no similar legislative effort this year.

    Key lawmakers said they will wait for the resolution of the pending gun cases in Connecticut before deciding whether the law needs to be revised.

    "It is definitely opening up a hornet's nest when you try to add on to or modify the laws that govern gun ownership in Connecticut," Lawlor said. "And I think, on paper, we have the most sensible system in the country. I think it is appropriate to have this discussion. And maybe the legislature should weigh in. Maybe not."

    NRA calls campuses ‘disarmed victim zones’

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:41 PM EDT

    [/b]Staff writer

    Of all rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms” is arguably the most controversial and the most restricted.

    To protest one of those restrictions, last week college students throughout the nation took part in the “Empty Holster Protest” sponsored by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Students wore empty holsters to call attention to the fact that even students with the legal right to carry weapons are forbidden to do so on college campuses.

    At Central Connecticut State University, members of the school’s gun club — officially dubbed the Riflery and Marksmanship Club — wore their empty holsters all week. “I have the right to self-defense off-campus but not in school,” said Sara Adler, the Riflery Club president. “If you attack me at school I’ll — throw my pen at you. That will stop you,” she said, smiling.

    The Connecticut state Constitution states “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state,” but in practice that right is curtailed. Permits to carry handguns require a training and screening process, and applicants must be at least 21 years old to qualify. But even a licensed gun holder of legal age cannot take guns on campus since the school is by law a “gun-free zone.”

    “We call gun-free zones ‘disarmed victim zones,’” said Steve Khemthong of CCSU’s Riflery Club. As part of the Empty Holster Protest, gun club members put up posters inviting criminals to indulge in an on-campus shooting spree, saying potential victims have been “disarmed for your convenience.”

    This does not surprise Suzanne Anglewicz of the National Rifle Association. “Every state where right-to-carry laws were passed, crime rates went down,” she said Thursday night when the gun club hosted NRA University at CCSU, a two-hour seminar discussing the history of the NRA in particular and American gun laws in general.

    “What’s needed is not gun control, but crime control. Only law-abiding people obey gun laws. Gun control does not affect criminals. Washington, D.C. and Chicago show the failure of gun control. If gun control makes people safe, why is D.C. always one of the top five cities for murder rates in the country?”

    The U.S. Supreme Court struck down gun bans in the District of Columbia and is considering a case that could do the same in Chicago.

    The NRA says there is ample statistical evidence showing that crime rates go up when gun control is imposed and down when gun rights are expanded. At the NRA seminar, Anglewicz passed out copies of the NRA’s “Top Ten Gun Control Myths,” including myth number 6: ”Allowing citizens to carry firearms will lead to more crime.”

    It states: “Violent crime rates since 2003 have been lower than anytime since the mid-1970s. Since 1991, 23 states have adopted RTC (right-to-carry) laws, the number of privately owned guns has risen by nearly 70 million, and violent crime is down 38 percent. In 2006, the most recent year for which complete data are available, RTC states had lower violent crime rates, on average, compared to the rest of the country (total violent crime by 26 percent; murder 31 percent; robbery 50 percent, and aggravated assault 15 percent.)”

    Asked about the Empty Holster protest, CCSU President Jack Miller said he supported the on-campus gun ban, but wouldn’t elaborate.

    “I support the ban for the obvious reasons,” he said.

    If state law allowed guns on campus, most students would not have weapons because a person must be 21 and complete a rigorous process to get a Connecticut gun permit.

    Still, Miller said, “I don’t think it would be a good idea.”

    During the “NRA University” Seth Waugh from the NRA discussed the pros and cons of various forms of pro-gun activism: write your legislators, call your legislators, volunteer for campaigns — and during the question and answer period, one man in the audience raised his hand and said, almost plaintively, “Connecticut is a very blue state, and I feel like calling my legislator would be a waste of time — the legislators have already made up their minds.”

    Waugh nodded. “You might waste a phone call, but you can work to get [the legislators] un-elected. That’s the best way to change their vote.”

    Carry rights expansion has police concerned

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:38 PM EDT

    By Lisa Backus
    Staff Writer

    The debate over where properly permitted owners can carry a gun extended a local college campus this week when Central Connecticut State University students protested by wearing empty holsters.

    The students, part of the school’s rifle and marksmanship club, claim the university is violating their Second Amendment rights by not allowing them to carry guns on campus.

    But state lawmakers and police say their interpretation of the Second Amendment is not only overly broad, but possibly downright dangerous.

    “The prevailing thought is that more guns, mean more shootings,” said state Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the judiciary committee. “I think if we had a referendum most people would say they don’t want to be in a classroom with other students carrying guns. It’s not a good idea to have guns in the classroom,” he said.

    Law enforcement officials are divided on whether a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision lifting the ban on guns in Washington D.C., including those kept at home, will lead to a chipping away of restrictions on guns in public places.

    “From our perspective, it makes our job more difficult,” said Wallingford Police Chief Douglas Dortenzio, who is president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. “We run into folks carrying guns and we have no idea what their intentions are. More people with firearms means more risk. Even with a large amount of training, it’s usually not the intended target that gets hit. The general public is not going to be better off. It puts everyone else at risk.”

    Dortenzio said he can’t think of one logical reason why a college student would need to carry a firearm on campus. “You are essentially on state property, you are a paid student,” he said. “It’s not your local park, it’s not a public square.”

    If students think they will be able to stop a massacre at the school, they should consider the recent U.S. Army base shootings where an army clinician shot several people before being taken down by a local police officer — not military personnel who were armed and already on scene, Lawlor said.

    “That was an army base, where people carry guns,” he said. “It doesn’t take long to shoot 10 or 15 people.”

    Under Connecticut statutes, state employees, vendors and contractors are not allowed to enter state buildings with a gun. The law includes state certified police officers who can not enter state courthouses with their service revolvers. The restriction presents a problem for police who then must rely on judicial marshals for security, said West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci who is the Legislative Co-Chair for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.

    Strillacci also said the vagueness of the state law when it comes to allowing permitted owners to carry in public can lead to some difficult situations for police.

    “Law enforcement is not unified about the issue,” he said. “Connecticut law is vague. A pistol permit allows you to carry a weapon but it doesn’t say if you can conceal it and where. If you walk into a place with a concealed weapon and bend over and it’s exposed, people can get alarmed. In some places it could be considered breach of peace, but those cases usually present a problem in court.”

    But Strillacci said the law is also clear on whether an entity or property owner can ban someone from entering their home or establishment with a gun. “The law does say you can ban firearms in places under your control,” he said.

    The ban on guns in state buildings was instituted by Gov. John Rowland by executive order after the lottery shootings where a disgruntled state employee killed four co-workers including former New Britain Mayor Linda Blogoslawski Mlynarczykin in 1998. His order has since been incorporated into state law, which also prohibits the carrying of guns at any place where the owner or manager of the property has stipulated that no guns are allowed.

    The owners, managers or residents have the right to call police to have the person arrested for trespassing if they don’t comply with their “no guns” rule.

    In a landmark ruling in 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on guns in Washington D.C., opening the door for similar challenges in other states. The ruling distinguished gun ownership as a constitutional right on its own, separate from the long-held belief that the Second Amendment protected gun rights to insure a well-regulated militia.

    In his dissent, Supreme Court Justice John Stevens worried that the ruling would chip away at all restrictions on carrying guns in public.

    “Given the presumption that most citizens are law abiding, and the reality that the need to defend oneself may suddenly arise in a host of locations outside the home, I fear that the District’s policy choice may well be just the first of an unknown number of dominoes to be knocked off the table,” Stevens said.

    Not true, said Lawlor, who points out that Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative justices, stated clearly in the majority opinion that reasonable restrictions on carrying guns in schools, government buildings and other areas are still considered constitutional. “If a law-abiding citizen is prepared to go through some training, you can carry a gun. But you can’t carry it anywhere you want. You take on that responsibility when you agree to the permit. The Supreme Court said you can’t have an outright ban, but you can regulate it. You just have to play by the rules,” said Lawlor.

    It’s not the Supreme Court ruling that has state lawmakers and the police concerned, Dortenzio said. It’s the plans to stretch District of Columbia v. Heller by encouraging owners to carry legally permitted guns into public venues that has the most potential for tragedy.

    “We’re concerned about this movement and how they are testing the waters to carry anywhere,” he said. “It is going to lead to some tragedies.”

  2. #2
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    Cherry Tree (Indiana County), Pennsylvania, USA

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    “We’re concerned about this movement and how they are testing the waters to carry anywhere,” he said. “It is going to lead to some tragedies.”
    Excuse me, but we've already had some tragedies! Oh, they were all in disarmed victim zones, so I guess they don't count.

  3. #3
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    Old Saybrook, CT

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    Since breach of peace seems to be the catchall that some may wish to use against open carriers, can you direct me to any relevant case law as far as what justifies arrest?

    I'm looking at the statute and there is obviously nothing relevant to peaceably carrying exposed.


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    If students think they will be able to stop a massacre at the school, they should consider the recent U.S. Army base shootings where an army clinician shot several people before being taken down by a local police officer — not military personnel who were armed and already on scene, Lawlor said.

    Lawlor is WRONG here again. The military who were shot on the base were not permitted to have firearms at the time they were shot and the "clinician" knew it! Why should he let the facts be presented when they are a detriment to his argument. If he happened to do some research or simply listen to unbiased research of the situation after it had happened he would have the facts. The more he speaks on the topic of firearms and laws the more ignorant and stupid he actually looks. What a clown.
    Here you go, Taken from an interview,

    "I was confused and just shocked," said Spc. Jerry Richard, 27, who works at the center but was not on duty during the shooting. "Overseas you are ready for it. But here you can't even defend yourself."

    Soldiers at Fort Hood don't carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises.

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