A Problem That Needs Solving
To the Editor:
For years, armed counter demonstrators have shown up at our protests in front of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun lobby group headquartered in Newtown. Across the nation, more and more gun owners are using their guns to intimidate citizens and elected officials they do not agree with.
To make Newtown one of the safest communities in our nation, Newtown Action Alliance has asked the Legislative Council to adopt firearm ordinances to ban open carry, guns on town-owned property, and guns during public demonstrations. Sadly, the only ordinance proposal that is being vetted by the Ordinance Subcommittee is a narrow version of our recommendations — banning open carry on town-owned property.
Currently, open carry is not prohibited by federal or Connecticut laws. Openly carrying handguns is prohibited in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, and D.C. and openly carrying long guns is prohibited in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and D.C.
Courts have ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect open carry. On March 24, 2021, the Ninth Circuit upheld Hawaii’s near-complete open carry ban. In 2012, George Young sued Hawaii for denying his permit-to-carry application to carry a concealed or openly visible handgun. In Hawaii, a license is required for gun owners to carry a gun in public. In a 7-4 decision, the Court ruled that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to carry firearms outside the home.
“There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, in the majority’s 127-page opinion. The seven judges in the majority looked back on 700 years of legal history and found “overwhelming evidence that the Second Amendment has never given people “an unfettered right to carry weapons in public spaces.”
Attorney Neal Kumar Katyal from Hogan Lovells law firm was the leading defender in this case. We are very grateful to have a team of attorneys from Hogan Lovells providing us pro bono help to pass the firearm ordinance in Newtown.
The Republican members of the Council who voted against sending our recommendations to the Ordinance Subcommittee used an excuse that they did not want the town to incur costs related to a potential lawsuit. To date, there have been no lawsuits filed against other Connecticut towns for passing similar firearm ordinances and our pro bono attorneys from Hogan Lovells have offered to defend the town without fees. If they can defend a case successfully for the State of Hawaii then I am confident they can defend Newtown.
I implore the Council to adopt all of our ordinance recommendations to keep us safe. A few Council members asked, “Is there a problem we need to solve?” My answer is, “Yes, we have been victims of armed intimidation and we should not wait for another tragedy to strike before taking action.”
Chairwoman, Newtown Action Alliance
PO Box 3325, Newtown April 9, 2021