A conspiracy to ban toys to cover for negligent employees?
During the short legislative session of 2012, Connecticut Carry became aware of a bill proposed by Representative Diana Urban that sought to ban all manner of ‘look-alike’ firearms within 1500 feet of a school zone upon penalty of a misdemeanor. We quickly realized the kind of impact such a bill would have on the citizens of Connecticut.
- 1500 feet around school properties in many towns in Connecticut means most private residences and businesses.
- The qualification as a ‘look-alike’ firearm easily included children’s toys, air soft guns, paintball guns and common air guns.
- The vague nature of the bill would provide law enforcement yet another grey area to harass firearms owners and carriers across the state who may lawfully possess real firearms inside the 1500 foot exclusion zone.
- The bill included no way to warn people that they would be entering this 1500 foot exclusion zone which would make many people lawfully transporting their air guns, children’s toys, airsoft guns and paintball guns into criminals for crossing an imaginary line that law enforcement would not even be able to accurately establish.
- The language of the bill had no exception for private property or business property, potentially resulting in confiscations and destructions of private and commercial property and closing stores that sell such items in these zones.
- There is already a statute in the state of Connecticut that makes it a crime to sell, carry or brandish a facsimile firearm. CGS 53-206c
After an extensive investigation into the origins of the bill, it was discovered that this bill was introduced after a couple of Stonington students were almost shot by a police officer who was apparently overly excited and not very well trained. The call came from a member of the Stonington public school faculty and reported that they had seen a group of children walking away from the school with what appeared to be firearms. The students had apparently obtained permission from a teacher in the school to bring the air guns to school for a film project and were then left unsupervised to make their film project.
The call from another member of the staff to the police resulted in an officer finding the students in the field attached to the school making their film. The officer upon contact with the children drew his firearm and ordered the children to drop their props. The students were cooperative and were not arrested or charged. There doesn't seem to be any discipline on the part of the school system either.
The lack of repercussions would make sense since it was not the fault of the students. They sought permission from their teacher, after all. The fault is clearly with the school system and the teacher in particular who allowed such a stupid idea to commence and a faculty member who sounded the alarm to the police department over what was clearly not a school shooting incident.
Add to that a police officer who draws on children at a school with no knowledge of any sort of violence being perpetrated and no personal threat, and you have a public relations nightmare. So what do you do as the authorities in the town? Redact the police report, make up lies and get a state representative to craft a bill that you think will make you look like a hero. And that is how HB 5220 started. Representative Diana Urban was their vessel. She proposed and publicized a bill that would take away property and rights from thousands of citizens across Connecticut because of the actions of a police department and school system that almost resulted in the murder of at least one child.
All in the name of the tried and true "Won't someone think of the children?" cliche that has removed so many of our rights already.