HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Following recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Gov. Ned Lamont joined gun safety advocates Tuesday morning to highlight recent changes to Connecticut’s ‘red flag’ law.
The law makes it easier for police to seize weapons and for family members to request legal intervention when a person poses a risk of injury to themselves or others.
State Rep. Maria Horn, a Democrat who represents the 64th district, is a former federal prosecutor. She helped write the law.
“Limiting their access to a weapon at that moment, that impulsive act in that moment. If we can stop that from happening at that moment, we save lives,” Horn said.
Connecticut’s ‘red flag’ law was created in 1999 in response to the Connecticut lottery shooting where an employee killed four of his supervisors and then himself.
More than two decades later, the law was expanded. This past year, lawmakers voted to include intimate partners, medical professionals, and police officers in the category of who can notify authorities that someone may have a mental illness and be a danger to himself or others, ultimately putting in motion the process to seize the person’s gun.
A few weeks ago, a 27-year-old Manchester man allegedly threatened to shoot up the local community college.
“If based on the findings of the police officer, they believe that a risk warrant should be issued, Officers can then apply for risk warrants,” said Chief Donald Melanson from the Windsor Police Department.
In the Manchester case, a risk warrant was issued. The man did not have access to weapons. An emergency medical evaluation was ordered. The Manchester man went to court and is free on a $100,000 bond.
He has to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and is now on the “red flag” list.
Some say the law has been used hundreds of times since the lottery shooting and has saved lives. More recently, advocates have looked at this law as a way to save kids who are being bullied in school, saying access to illegal guns is a dangerous mix.
Governor Lamont is going after the Republican Lt. Governor candidate, State Representative Laura Devlin, for voting against the measure.
“You’ll have to ask her why she doesn’t want a stronger red flag law,” Lamont said at a news conference.
Devlin tells News 8 she supports the state’s “red flag law” and the Governor mischaracterized her vote, adding she and a number of Democrats didn’t support people reporting concerns directly to the courthouse because it complicates a system that is working.
“Police may not necessarily have that ability to speak with you directly. So it’s an added step of muddying what was a gold standard law and that I and many of my colleagues felt put more people at risk and also made it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs,” Devlin said. “It’s really disappointing that the governor has chosen political grandstanding on this issue than being honest.”
Officials said once a court orders the weapon to be seized, it remains locked up for a year until the person can prove they are no longer a danger. Then they have to appeal to the court for the weapon to be released and apply for a new gun permit through the state police.
Lamont said the federal ‘red flag’ law going through Congress would be a useful tool for other states. Only 19 states currently have this on the books.