January 27, 2023

FILE - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivers the State of the State during opening session at the State Capitol, Feb. 5, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. Gov. Lamont has scheduled a special election on Jan. 25, 2022, for the Connecticut House of Representatives seat vacated by Caroline Simmons, who resigned after being elected mayor of Stamford. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Important allies are cool to an idea Gov. Ned Lamont unexpectedly floated during a campaign debate and intends to pursue: Repealing the exemption that allows residents to possess AR-15 rifles purchased before the ban on sales in Connecticut.

Twice, in 1993 and then again after the Sandy Hook massacre a decade ago, the General Assembly has passed laws banning the sale of certain military-style weapons, most notably the AR-15 and its many variations.

But each time, the legislature assured gun owners that a “grandfather” provision would allow them to retain those guns. A seizure of tens of thousands of firearms was a legal and political line lawmakers were unwilling to cross. …

Lamont raised the idea of a complete ban on AR-15s at a gubernatorial debate where his Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, said the police accountability law passed in 2020 with Lamont’s support has undermined police morale, resulting in a more timid police force.

Without saying precisely how, Stefanowski suggested the accountability law contributed to the deaths of Bristol officers Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy, who police say were shot to death in an ambush by a man armed with a weapon that rapidly fired 80 rounds. Sources say the weapon was an AR-15 or similar rifle.

“He’s got a full rating, NRA rating, A-plus,” Lamont said of Stefanowski during the debate. “He won’t touch guns. You’re not serious about crime unless you’re serious about guns, getting those illegal guns off the street, getting those AR-15 or other assault weapons off the street.”

Lamont, who had not called for an AR-15 ban previously in his campaign, told reporters after the debate that he would pursue one in his second term.

“They should not be allowed in the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “I think they’re killers. We found out they’re cop killers. I think they’re incredibly dangerous in our community. You’re not serious about crime if you leave them on the street.”

This week, he reiterated an intention to repeal the grandfather provision.

“I think it’s a loophole that makes our society here in Connecticut a little less safe,”  he said.

— Mark Pazniokas in Lamont may go alone in seeking end to ownership of AR-15s in CT

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