State Sen. Ed Meyer said he heard from the Guilford Police Department Monday morning and that he was told they do not plan to proceed with a complaint made by a gun rights activist about a BB gun that Meyer used as part of a forum on gun control Sunday at a church in Guilford.
"From our standpoint, based on our investigation, there was no criminal violation," Sgt. Jeff Provencher of the Guilford Police Department just told Guilford Patch."According to the officers report after interviewing the involved parties, the organizer of the event at the Church was aware of the presence of the BB gun, and was made aware that it would be used at the presentation prior to the meeting."
Meyer, D-12th District, who represents the towns of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford, hosted a forum on gun control at the First Congregational Church in Guilford. During the forum, Meyer and recently retired Guilford Officer Pat Leary used a BB gun to demonstrate specific aspects of legislation Meyer is proposing. Meyer said the gun was used, in part, to demostrate how high-capacity magazine clips are used.
One of Meyer's constituents lodges complaint relating to BB gun at forum
Richard Burgess, of North Branford, from the gun rights group Connecticut Carry, made a complaint to Guilford police, saying both Meyer and Leary were in violation of a state statute 53-206 concerning the possession of a BB gun in public. Burgess also put up a press release on the Connecticut Carry website saying Meyer "illegally" waved a gun around, and also saying that Meyer refused to call on Burgess during the forum. The full press release is provided at the end of this story.
On Monday, Meyer said he spoke with Gov. Dannel Malloy's Office of Policy and Management, Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division to make sure that his actions did not violate any state statutes.
Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for the state's OPM Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division, said Meyer's actions Sunday did not.
"Read number six"
"So that statute is 53-206 and if you read it, you'll see that it has a bunch of exemptions. Read number six," Lawlor said Monday.
Sec. 53-206. Carrying of dangerous weapons prohibited. (a) Any person who carries upon his or her person any BB. gun... or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than three years or both. ... (6) the carrying of a BB. gun by any person upon such person's own property or the property of another person provided such other person has authorized the carrying of such weapon on such property, and the transporting of such weapon to or from such property.
Meyer said Sunday the BB gun was not only disabled, but that church leader Craig Mullet, who organized the meeting, was aware it would be there.
Lawlor said those who asserted Meyer was breaking the law perhaps didn't read the law all the way through to the end.
"They were wrong"
"They were being very condescending to the cops. It turns out they were wrong. There is an exemption," Lawlor said. "It's true you can't just carry around BB guns anywhere. But Meyer had consent. He didn't break any criminal laws. And anyone who read the whole law would know that."
Meyer said his focus remains on three elements that he and other legislators feel will address issues raised by a recent tragic incident in Newtown, CT where a young man with mental health issues used his mother's legally purchased semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazine clips to murder school children, teachers, and school administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Meyer said legislation under consideration includes gun control, school safety, and mental health.
Sen. Meyer's legislation addresses semi-automatic weapons, high capacity magazines, and an exemption
In terms of gun control, Meyer has introduced legislation that he says addresses several concerns about semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. The legislation, Proposed S.B. No. 122 was introduced by Meyer and on Jan. 11 was referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary. A copy of the language in the bill has been posted as a PDF with this article.
"First of all, it prohibits in the state of Connecticut the sale, purchase or possession of any gun magazine or gun clip. This is to prevent repetitive firing weapons," Meyer said. "It also provides that the only legal gun in Connecticut is a gun that first one bullet. Then you have to reload it."
Meyer said this should prove sufficient for most hunters who know how to shoot straight and reload.
"Most deer can be brought down with one bullet"
"Most deer can be brought down with one bullet," he said.
Meyer said he has talked with law enforcement officials, including the state police, and has investigated the issue and that it's his understanding that "the bad guys can put in new gun magazines in about a second." He said the state police showed him that gun magazines can be taped together to facilitate even faster loading and reloading.
"It takes between one and two seconds," he said. "So going to smaller magazines, which is part of the dialogue today, is not going to prevent this kind of gun violence."
Shoot, then reload
The second element of the legislation he has proposed is that the only legal gun in Connecticut is one that fires one bullet. "Then you have to reload it," Meyer said.
The third element of the legislation he has proposed provides for some exemptions to accommodate people who are practicing target shooting at gun ranges, Meyer said.
"The third element exempts the prohibition on magazines at gun ranges on gun clubs, and provides that gun clubs can possess the magazines on two conditions," Meyer said. "First, that they register the magazines with a division of the Connecticut state police. And, second, that the magazines are maintained solely on gun club property under secure conditions."
Exemption would preserve ability of shooters to practice at ranges with magazines
Meyer said target shooters love to have multi-round magazines, as they hone their target shooting skills, and that the exemption would preserve their ability to do that without creating an undue public safety risk.
Meyer said that during the discussion Sunday at the First Congregational Church in Guilford that there was a good discussion and that he got a suggestion from some duck hunters that he is going to take under consideration.
"The duck hunters want me to amend the bill to allow shotguns that have more than one barrel," Meyer said he would take that under consideration since, "I'm obviously going after the bad guys, not the hunters."
Meyer said he knows his legislation is considered "the extreme position"
Meyer said it's his understanding, after talking with other legislators in Hartford, that his bill is considered "the extreme position."
"And that might permit some compromises to be made," he said. Meyer said state Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-3rd District, which includes East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington and South Windsor, along with state Sen. Beth Bye, D-5th District, which includes Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington and West Hartford, have introduced legislation that also is being considered, including Proposed S.B. No. 124. [A PDF of that proposed legislation also is included with this article].
Meyer said that legislation reduces the size of gun magazines allowed to ten rounds. "That bill has a better chance of passage," he said. "Some people are using my bill as a strategy to reach a compromise."
"I like my bill. But I will vote for any reasonable compromise"
Meyer, when asked how he felt about the possibility of compromise, said "I like my bill. But I will vote for any reasonable compromise. We have got to try to make a difference here. And it has to be done in Connecticut, because it's not going to happen in the U.S. Congress."
Vice President Joe Biden plans to introduce proposals on the national level relating to gun control Tuesday.
In terms of timing, Meyer said the state legislative leadership has said that they hope to have a composite bill out at the end of February on this and other related issues. "This is what we call fast tracking," he said. "The legislative process can move slowly, so I wouldn't go to the bank on that. But the intent and goal is to come out with a composite bill at the end of February that deals with three things."
Those three things are gun control, school security, and mental health, Meyer said.
School safety discussions include bullet-proof glass, emergency buttons, surveillance teams
In terms of school safety, legislators are currently debating several issues. Meyer said he is not aware of any specific legislation that has been introduced, but that the topics under discussion include the possibility of mandating bullet-proof glass, the possibility of mandating emergency buttons at every school that would be wired into the police department that would be faster than 911, and the possibility of "surveillance approach that would be short of a police [officer] at every entrance."
There might be several ways to deal with surveillance, Meyer said. In Madison, Meyer said, he has talked with Madison resident Herb Gram, who has proposed a "senior brigade of retired people who would do surveillance at each of the schools."
Meyer said he knows the NRA has proposed putting an armed guard at every school. "No one in my district, that I know of, is talking about adopting the NRA proposal," he said.
Mental health issues more difficult, more expensive to address
The mental health issues are going to be more difficult to address, Meyer said.
"It's a very difficult issue," he said. "We can't, constitutionally, require all gun owners to take a psychiatric examination. We are talking, instead, about training school psychologists to be able to recognize the kind of mental illness we saw" in the Newtown, CT gunman.
Meyer said it would be ideal to implement a new tier of mental health services, but that such a proposal would be extremely expensive. "The third problem is that most insurance coverage does not include mental health," he said. "Mental health is the third part of the problem [along with gun control and school security] and that's the part we [the legislators] are having the most trouble with."
Guilford Patch Editor Lauren Lanzon contributed to this story.
Here is the full press release on the Connecticut Carry website about Sen. Meyer's forum:
For Immediate Release:
Senator Meyer hosts anti-gun rally in Guilford
Illegally waves a BB gun ‘Assault weapon’ around
Guilford, Connecticut, January 13th, 2013:
Senator Ed Meyer hosted an anti-gun rally disguised as a ‘gun violence forum’ at the First Congregational Church in Guilford Connecticut. The rally started with a representative of the church’s ‘peace committee’ citing information that was blatantly false such as:
· It is constitutional to ban firearms.
· The Second Amendment is about militias and therefore does not apply to individuals.
· America is somehow more violent than other countries.
· Modern sporting rifles are a main culprit of the violent crime.
· Violence is on the rise in America.
These anti-rights talking points are clearly false and have been disproven in such works as “More Guns, Less Crime” by John Lott, and by simply looking at FBI crime data which is released annually and is freely available to the public on their website. Violent crime has been on a steady decline for decades, regardless of the sales of these types of firearms and the overwhelming spread of more lenient laws that allow more citizens across the nation to carry firearms in public. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 did nothing to change crime statistics or provide for public safety, nor did it prevent such heinous acts as the Columbine massacre or the North Hollywood shootout, although it did hinder the response to the North Hollywood incident.
Senator Meyer went on to tell people erroneously that his bill won’t affect most of them and that there have been no cases of self defense with a firearm in Connecticut. Senator Meyer had no sufficient answer for the gentlemen from Madison who stood up and recounted his experience as a child when a violent criminal tried to break into his home and his sister protected him with a semi-automatic shotgun without needing to fire a single shot, thankfully. Senator Meyer did not want to hear from Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess about the estimated 1.5 – 2.5 million uses of firearms in self defense each year. The NRA keeps an archive of such stories on their ‘Armed Citizen’ website. Indeed, there are 82 such incidents in Connecticut alone, and this is likely a tiny portion of the actual events.
Senator Ed Meyer would not call on Connecticut Carry Rich Burgess who was ready and willing to ask why Senator Meyer would bother with such a bill when the DC v Heller case(s) so clearly outlined that it would be unconstitutional to ban guns in ‘common use’ like all of the guns Senator Meyer proposes to ban. The Supreme Court also ruled that citizens could not be required by law to store their firearms where they would be inaccessible to them. Senator Meyer claims to have consulted with an attorney about these issues but obviously did not consult with an appropriate attorney that understood our current legal landscape.
Senator Meyer then went on to introduce a guest he had invited, Retired Police Officer Pat Leary, who pulled out a facsimile of an AR 15, which he identified as a ‘BB gun’ and stated it was ‘not loaded’. He then proceeded to wave it around the room as he described why he thought the laws should be changed to ban that type of firearm.
Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess contacted the Guilford Police Department about the incident and described that this is a clear violation of Connecticut General Statute Sec. 53-206.” Carrying of dangerous weapons prohibited”. The situation is under investigation by the Guilford Police Department. Retired Officer Pat Leary demonstrated another thing: How archaic and completely ridiculous our laws in this state are and how most police officers do not know or understand those laws.
Senator Ed Meyer also came out of the church carrying the same BB gun and admitted to not knowing the law. We expect the Guilford Police Department will also investigate his actions, as they confirmed in front of us that the church did not have knowledge of this dangerous and unlawful stunt.
· More information on this issue can be found on http://ctcarry.com.
· NRA-ILA’s Armed Citizen: http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen.aspx
· Self defense incidents in Connecticut: http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen.aspx?s=&st=10471&pageNum=1
· DC v Heller: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html
· Defensive Gun Use numbers: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf
Connecticut Carry is dedicated to advancing and protecting the fundamental civil rights of the men and women of Connecticut to keep and bear arms for defense of themselves and the state as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Connecticut.