HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Connecticut senators are meeting with community leaders to push for universal background checks for potential gun buyers. That would mean anyone buying a gun anywhere in the United States would need to be screened beforehand.
Connecticut has universal background checks, but many other states don’t. Police and community leaders in Connecticut say it’s working here, but that’s not where the majority of guns are coming from.
A record 367 guns were taken off the street last year in Hartford, and there are still many more out there.
“It’s almost like a war zone,” said Reverend Henry Brown with Mothers United Against Violence. “You wake up and look at the television, and somebody’s son is dead, somebody’s daughter is dead, or somebody’s laying up in the hospital with six or seven bullets in them. This is unacceptable.”
From community shootings to domestic violence to mass shootings, will a national universal background check make a difference?
“Connecticut has had a couple of high-profile domestic violence homicides in the last couple of months, and this would, without question, have prevented those,” said Meghan Scanlon, CEO of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Connecticut has a mandatory background check for gun buyers, and the Hartford police chief says it’s the other states that don’t have it that are the problem.
“When it comes from out of state, Vermont is our number one contributor to the illegal guns we have seen last year,” Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said.
The state has seen guns come from Vermont, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Thody says most people think stolen guns end up on the street, but that is only about 16%, which is a small fraction.
“They are not stolen, they are being purchased or transferred to people that are not responsible and then they end up here,” Thody said. “That gap in the middle is where you really have to drill down with some of our federal partners like the ATF.”
So, while Thody says background checks work in Connecticut, will lawmakers be able to pass them in Washington, D.C.? It has been failing for years on Capitol Hill.
“We have more partners, and we have more cosponsors and more momentum behind this than ever before,” Senator Chris Murphy said. “I understand it is an uphill climb, but nothing is impossible.”
The community leaders in the trenches say they need universal background checks.
“It is inconceivable that in 2023 we still do not have background checks to ensure that firearms are sold appropriately,” said Nicole Hockley, CEO of Sandy Hook Promise.
“We are on the battlefield every day,” Brown said. “We, the people, have the power if they’re not doing their job. Vote them out.”
News 8 reached out to the Connecticut Citizen’s Defense League, and they say one problem with background checks is that they pave the way to gun registration they say Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) recently made a statement that he would consider getting rid of grandfathered guns.