CT Voters for Gun Safety that aims to support pro-gun control candidates. This weekend, the PAC sponsored a conference of 125 advocates from around the state.
“Nationally the election is being watched very closely to see if the gun issue is a factor and what the results are,” said Ron Pinciaro, the executive director for Connecticut Against Gun Violence. “The perception we’d like to create is that smart gun laws work and you can vote for smart gun laws and win elections.”
In a poll released by Quinnipiac University last May, 56 percent of respondents approved of the gun control legislation passed in 2013 while 38 percent opposed it. The legislation, which included bans on certain types of guns, universal background checks on gun purchases and limits to ammunition magazines, has maintained a fairly constant approval rating since its passage.
In another Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month, the majority of Connecticut residents said Malloy would do a better job of handling gun policy than Foley, though by a margin of just 5 percentage points.
In a debate with Malloy last month, Foley stated, “[The 2013 legislation] was so overreaching that it went way, way beyond in what I think would have been an appropriate response to Newtown.”
Pinciaro said that he thought Foley was purposely vague on guns but added that if Foley was elected governor and the assembly repealed the bill, Foley would sign it.
Scott Wilson, the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said although he did not think Foley would actively try to repeal gun legislation, he would also not make gun legislation stricter.
“[Foley] is not the gun governor, but I do think he will do his best to steer clear of future gun legislation that will harm gun owners in Connecticut,” Wilson said. “At this point, we’re merely asking Foley to respect our rights and not sign any more gun control legislation.”
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League previously considered supporting tea party-favorite Martha Dean for governor, according to Pinciaro, who wondered whether the rank-and-file of the pro-gun rights group would feel strongly enough about Foley to have a large involvement in the race.
But Wilson said Malloy was using gun issues as a distraction from economic issues, where the governor lags behind in polls.
“Malloy would certainly love guns to be the centerpiece for this election, but that’s just a distraction for all his failed policies,” Wilson said. “He’s trying to get the most out of what happened to poor children in Sandy Hook to save his career as a politician.”
Recently, Malloy has been touting his work on guns, with an ad focusing on the aftermath of Sandy Hook and his 2013 bill. Last week, he also announced a new proposal to remove guns in temporary restraining order cases.
Currently, when someone files a domestic restraining order in Connecticut, the application asks whether the abuser has access to guns. But even if the judge grants a temporary restraining order, guns are not taken away until potentially two weeks later after a formal hearing results in a permanent order.
According to Karen Jarmoc, head of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Malloy’s proposal is a “credible policy measure” that will keep victims of domestic violence safer at what can be the “most dangerous time for them.”
Nationwide, access to guns increases the chance of a domestic violence homicide by five times.