March 11, 2019

Senator Haskell Cheers Advancement of Gun Violence Prevention and Environmental Legislation

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) cheered the advancement of several key bills in the General Assembly. Important legislation aimed at increasing public safety and protecting our natural environmental were heard Monday at public hearings, moving them one step closer to being enacted and creating a safer, cleaner Connecticut.

On Monday, the Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on several bills related to firearms and firearm regulation. That included legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Haskell, including a bill to ban ghost guns, a proposal to mandate the safe storage of firearms, and overdue legislation that would empower law-enforcement officers to confirm that individuals carrying a firearm have a permit that allows them to do so.

House Bill No. 7218, “An Act Concerning the Safe Storage of Firearms in the Home,” would require all firearms in a home with a minor under the age of 18 to be secured safely whether loaded or unloaded. Anyone who leaves a gun unsecured in such a home would be made liable for damages if a minor were to obtain a firearm and cause injury to themselves or another individual. This legislation is referred to as “Ethan’s Law,” in reference to 15-year-old Ethan Song of Guilford, who was killed after obtaining an unsecured gun at a friend’s house.

House Bill No. 7219, “An Act Concerning Ghost Guns,” would ban guns without serial numbers, additionally creating regulations for firearms that require the purchaser to finish their assembly themselves. Those regulations would extend to homemade or 3-D printed guns. Senate Bill No. 60, “An Act Concerning the Presentation of a Carry Permit,” would require individuals open-carrying a gun to produce a firearm permit to a law enforcement officer upon request if the gun is visible.

“These bills are a crucial step in making sure that every student can feel safe in the classroom. I’ll continue to fight for these laws, because parents, teachers and students shouldn’t have to worry that the next school shooting may be around the corner,” said Sen. Haskell. “This should be a priority of every legislator, regardless of his or her political party. When 1.7 million children live in homes with at least one gun, we need to listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics when they tell us that locking guns lowers the risk of unintentional injury or suicide by 73%. As always, I’m inspired and energized by hearing from the gun violence prevention advocates who passionately supported these bills. From the parents of Ethan Song to the students who filled our committee room, it’s clear to me that Connecticut residents are looking to the General Assembly for leadership and bravery in standing up to the National Rifle Association.”

Also on Monday, the Environment Committee held a public hearing concerning a ban on plastic bags. Sen. Haskell is a co-sponsor of Raised Senate Bill No. 1003, which seeks to reduce use of single-use plastic bags in the state by putting limitations on their use. Except for certain circumstances, these bags would no longer be allowed as of Jan. 1, 2020; stores would instead need to offer recyclable bags intended to be reused or face a fine.

This legislation comes in light of the increasing awareness of the environmental hazard that plastic bags present. Towns across Connecticut, including New Britain and Hamden, are considering or acting on implementing bag bans, and others like Westport banned them nearly a decade ago. While up to 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year, less than 5 percent of that plastic gets recycled, leaving the majority of it to linger in landfills or stream into the sea, where they pose threats to ocean life.

“I’m so glad that the Environment Committee is following the lead of municipalities like Westport and New Canaan,” said Sen. Haskell. “10 years ago this month, municipal leaders in my home town proposed banning plastic bags in an effort to protect our coastline and preserve Connecticut’s natural resources. Roughly a decade later, I think it’s time we bring this ban to the state level. Plastic bags are incredibly wasteful and can potentially kill wildlife – the Environmental Protection Agency reported more than half of all dead turtles are found with plastic in their stomachs. Bag bans are catching on across the country, with more and more states and cities considering or acting on bans, because they work. By cutting down on our use of wasteful pollutants, we protect the natural resources that make Connecticut a wonderful place to live.”