Sampson Appointed to Gun Violence Prevention Task Force; Introduces Number of Crime-Prevention Measures

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State Representative Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) has announced a package of bills he describes as “common sense measures following the Sandy Hook tragedy which will enhance public safety overall in Connecticut.”

The package contains the following bills:

HB-5224 AN ACT ELIMINATING RISK REDUCTION CREDITS: This bill that would eliminate the Governor’s Early Release Program that has received intense scrutiny since it was enacted last year. As a result of its implementation several murders and violent crimes have been committed by inmates who were released before completing their sentences.

HB-5165 AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEFENSE OF A PERSON’S HOME, MOTOR VEHICLE OR BUSINESS: This bill is intended to clarify an individual’s right to “stand their ground” and defend themselves from an attacker, in their home, business, or automobile.

HB-5176 AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER: This proposal would create uniform criteria for municipalities issuing pistol permits.

HB-5269 AN ACT INCREASING THE PENALTY FOR CRIMINAL USE OF A FIREARM OR ELECTRONIC DEFENSE WEAPON: This bill increases the penalty from a Class D Felony to a Class C Felony for use of a firearm or Taser-type weapon during the commission of a crime.

HB-5952 AN ACT INCREASING THE PENALTY FOR THE UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM: This bill increases the penalty from a Class D Felony to a Class C Felony for illegally possessing a firearm.

HB-5683 AN ACT CONCERNING COURT ORDERED OUTPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT: This bill authorizes probate courts to issue orders that require persons meeting certain criteria to undergo outpatient psychiatric treatment.

AN ACT ALLOWING SCHOOL BOARDS TO ESTABLISH PROTOCOLS PERMITTING SCHOOL PERSONNEL OR STAFF TO POSSESS WEAPONS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS (Bill number unassigned yet): This bill clarifies that existing law permits school officials to establish protocols permitting school personnel or staff to possess weapons on school grounds.

“When you sit down and really consider the circumstances surrounding what happened in Sandy Hook, you realize it has very little to do with guns,” said Sampson.  “It has a lot more to do with mental illness and how we treat safety in those types of environments. The fact is the more gun laws you make, all you are doing is affecting people who pay attention to laws, and criminals obviously don’t pay attention to laws.”

Sampson contends that many of the details surrounding the Sandy Hook tragedy remain unknown, and that he looks forward to getting greater detail.  “I think it’s unwise to make rash policy changes when we don’t have all the facts,” he said.

Sampson has been chosen to serve on the newly-formed bi-partisan task force on gun violence prevention and child safety.  In his capacity as Ranking Republican member of the House of Representatives on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, he will participate on the Mental Illness subcommittee of the task force which is examining the issues of gun violence, mental illness, and school safety as they pertain to mass shootings such as Sandy Hook.

“We have numerous reports, which have not been contradicted, that Adam Lanza was clearly suffering from some mental illness,” said Sampson. “Our challenge is going to in assessing how we can better handle people suffering from mental health issues before they get to the point where they spark a tragic episode.

“We also know that he violated countless laws, including laws restricting the availability and use of certain types of firearms, laws much like those being discussed as the so-called ‘solution’ to these types of events.

“Finally, we know that the people at Sandy Hook Elementary were basically defenseless against this attack, that they lacked a sufficient means to keep Lanza out of the building or any way to oppose his actions.”

Sampson said that in introducing his bills he is “suggesting that we use common sense and concentrate on things have the greatest likelihood of success.  Let’s start enforcing existing laws.  Let’s increase the penalties for criminal behavior.  Let’s give towns and cities the power to make their own decisions on what would make a difference in their communities – whether it be hiring security, fortifying school buildings, or allowing properly trained and permitted members of staff to be armed.  Let’s find out why we have so many folks in our prison system with mental illness.  And finally, we should look at a potential connection between certain types of drugs and violent behavior.”

The bipartisan legislative task force is set to report its findings and make legislative recommendations in February.

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