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NAA Leader Offers Support On Open Carry Legislation



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An interesting collaboration was suggested after a proposed ordinance that could, if passed, bar the open carry of firearms on town-owned property was moved to committee by the Legislative Council, February 17.

(See related story)

Newtown Action Alliance co-founder Po Murray, a vocal gun safety advocate since 12/14, offered council members her assistance in any efforts to get statewide legislation introduced that would extend a similar ban to all 169 Connecticut municipalities.

After speaking in favor of the local ordinance earlier in the meeting, she first thanked council members for recommending the ordinance proposal go to committee.

“I served on the council years ago,” Murray reminded the officials, and then expressed empathy for Ordinance Committee Chairman Ryan Knapp, who has long advocated for open carry regulations to be legislated statewide, and council member Cathy Reiss, who spoke in favor of yielding any local control of such activities to the state.

“So maybe we can work together,” Murray offered, saying she would sign on requesting Newtown State Rep Mitch Bolinsky to pursue it.

“I’d be willing to do that with you guys,” she said. “California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, and Washington, DC, have already prohibited the open carry of handguns — and California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and DC generally prohibit open carry of long guns.”

Murray also took the opportunity to address a comment that Knapp made alluding to fundraising that has been done using Newtown’s 12/14 tragedy as a motivator.

“I want you to all be aware that for over eight years, the Newtown Action Alliance has operated as an all-volunteer organization, so we don’t do a lot of fundraising,” Murray said.

She said the group’s members have sought “to use their organic and authentic voices out of Newtown to create the change that we believe is necessary to keep other communities safe, and to keep other families from going through what the families here in Newtown have gone through.”

However, last year the group decided to hire a part-time staff person to help with the workload Murray herself said was occupying “60 to 80 hours a week.”

“It’s truly because we’re fighting for public safety,” she said, “and to protect our children and families.”

Following the meeting, Knapp told The Newtown Bee that he “appreciated Murray’s offer, but I am too involved with other council, home, and work commitments to do much more than submit written testimony on the desire for legislative clarity — both from a municipal perspective [because] I don’t want Newtown residents to shoulder the financial and emotional burden of resolving this in court — and that of a gun owner who wants to be compliant in 169 different towns.

“As a lawful gun owner I will comply with whatever the state decides,” Knapp added, “and hope they legislate for municipal clarity so that we don’t need a lawsuit to set case law.”

Newtown Action Alliance co-founder Po Murray has offered her assistance in advocating a statewide open carry ban to the State Legislature along with the members of Newtown’s Legislative Council who opposed taking up such a ban locally. —Bee file photo
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