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Friday, December 6 News

Op-Ed: Let’s end bulk gun purchases

The feeling is all too familiar. Your phone lights up with breaking news. You wake up to a tragic headline. You walk by a TV and pause to see how many are dead and how many are missing.

This week, Gracie Anne Muehlberger and Dominic Black went to school one morning and didn’t come home. Worst of all, a haunting stream of losses occur in our surrounding community. Bridgeport has seen more than a dozen homicides so far this year. The details of each new shooting are slightly different and the publicity vastly unequal, but the sadness and fear are the same.

The story usually goes that a gun fell into the wrong hands. Advocates for gun violence prevention, myself included, demand stricter regulations regarding who can buy a gun and where they can store it. Opponents tell us that law-abiding gun owners aren’t the problem. Nothing gets done.

Here’s an idea that both sides should be able to support: Let’s end the bulk purchasing of guns in Connecticut, so that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands. Currently, there are no restrictions regarding how many firearms an individual can purchase during a trip to the gun store. But when someone legally buys dozens of handguns, we ought to be concerned that those guns will soon be sold to individuals who would not be able to pass a background check. We know that bulk purchases too often lead to straw purchases. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes, handguns purchased alongside one or more other handguns “were up to 64% more likely to be used in crime than handguns sold individually.”

What can we do? Let’s follow the lead of California, New Jersey and Maryland by limiting the number of firearms an individual may purchase within a 30-day period. Surely law abiding gun owners don’t need to buy more than 12 firearms each year. One gun per person per month seems be a reasonable compromise that will reduce gun trafficking and save lives.

Last legislative session, I introduced S.B. 161, “An Act Limiting Multiple Handgun Purchases in a Thirty-Day Period.” It was one of several gun-related bills I proposed, and I’m proud to say several others — including bills mandating safe storage of guns in homes with children and making “ghost guns” illegal — passed into law. But this unfinished business is important. I’m reminded of the work that lies ahead after the tragedies of this past week. During the next session, I’ll advocate for a similar bill to be considered by the Judiciary Committee.

In a nationwide study by the Giffords Center, roughly 65% of those surveyed support a one-per-month limit on gun purchases. Surely not everything in Hartford has to be divisive. I hope this is an opportunity to come together and make sure Connecticut residents feel safe in their classroom, their local movie theater or their neighborhood.

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Will Haskell is a state senator representing District 26, which encompasses the towns of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton and parts of Weston, Westport and New Canaan.

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