August 3, 2008
Using a unique state law, police in Connecticut have disarmed dozens of gun owners based on suspicions that they might harm themselves or others.
The state’s gun seizure law is considered the first and only law in the country that allows the confiscation of a gun before the owner commits an act of violence. Police and state prosecutors can obtain seizure warrants based on concerns about someone’s intentions.
State police and 53 police departments have seized more than 1,700 guns since the law took effect in October 1999, according to a new report to the legislature. There are nearly 900,000 privately owned firearms in Connecticut today.
Opponents of a gun seizure law expressed fears in 1999 that police would abuse the law. Today, the law’s backers say the record shows that hasn’t been the case.
“It certainly has not been abused. It may be underutilized,” said Ron Pinciaro, coexecutive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.
The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the pre-existing individual right to possess and carry weapons (i.e. “keep and bear arms”) in case of confrontation. Codification of the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights was influenced by a fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule through a standing army or select militia, since history had shown the way tyrants eliminated resistance to suppression of political opponents was to simply take away the people’s arms and make it an offense to keep them. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that self-defense is a central component of the right.