Gun control figures to be a hotly debated issue at the state capitol this legislative session.
Among those providing input is South Windsor Chief of Police Matthew Reed, who is one of two legislative liaisons for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
Reed recently met with state legislators on behalf of the association, which represents the state’s 100 or so police chiefs to provide input on initial discussions on gun control.
Reed said that nothing formal was proposed and the association was not advocating for any specific measure. Still, the meeting, which took place last Friday, was productive.
“It was a good exchange of ideas,” Reed said.
Under Connecticut law, chiefs of police, wardens or selectmen - depending on the jurisdiction - are “issuing authorities” for pistol permits.
Issuing authorities, according to Reed, are limited by the law in terms of what they can consider when an application for a pistol permit is filed.
Under Connecticut law, an applicant for a pistol or revolver permit must not, among other things, have been convicted of a felony, a crime involving domestic violence or certain other serious misdemeanors; have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital within the preceding year; or be subject to a protective order.
The applicant must also: be at least 21 years old; be a legal resident of the state; and have completed a firearms training course.
All such information, Reed noted, must be self-reported by the applicant.
“You can require further documentation, but the options are limited,” Reed said.
Reed said that there are other things that permit-issuing authorities - i.e. police chiefs - could require if they were allowed to by law, such as three letters of reference or a letter from a physician or mental health professional.
Reed also said that the type of firearms that require permitting could be broadened to include long rifles and shotguns, or certain types of ammunition.
Regardless, the one thing that Reed said that he and the association are not advocating for is the out and out ban on guns.
“We’re not saying, ‘Nobody should have guns,’” he said. “But if we are going to shoulder the responsibility of vetting applicants, then we should be given a lot more latitude to scrutinize each applicant.”
Right now, Reed said that it’s more difficult to obtain a commercial driver’s license than it is to obtain a pistol permit.
Given that the issuance of permits is on the rise - in South Windsor alone, 169 were issued in 2012, compared to just 22 in 2003 - Reed said that it’s within reason to explore the permitting process.
“I think there is an appetite to make some modifications to the permitting process,” Reed said. “At least in terms of what we as an issuing authority can engage in when reviewing somebody for suitability.”