Yash Roy, Contributing Photographer

Sixty percent of individuals arrested for shootings in New Haven in 2022 were already on pretrial release, probation or parole. A new proposal put forward by New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities hopes to lower the number of gun crimes committed by “repeat offenders.”

On Feb. 14, Governor Ned Lamont, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Wolcott Mayor Tom Dunn and several family members of gun violence victims gathered at the State Capitol in Hartford to present the proposal put forward by a CCM taskforce to reduce gun violence by repeat offenders. 

These proposals include requiring certain past offenders to post higher bonds when charged for a new serious firearm offense, strengthening consequences for the criminal possession of a firearm, establishing a definition for “serious firearm offense” and strengthening conditions of parole for firearm related offenses.

“Individuals with a history of serious firearm offenses who continue to engage in violence need to know that if they commit another act of gun violence, they will be held accountable,” Elicker told the News. “These new proposals coupled with the rest of our multi-pronged strategy to address gun violence and historic investments into the community strike the right and necessary balance to keep all our residents safe.”

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities created the task force that proposed these changes in October of 2022.  According to the report published by the task force, a “significant share” of the gun violence that occurs in Connecticut is committed by individuals with a prior offense. 

Of the 44 individuals arrested in Hartford in 2022 for fatal and non-fatal shootings, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said that 39 percent were on pretrial release, 14 percent were on probation and five percent were on parole. 

“In New Haven, like other cities across Connecticut, a very small number of repeat offenders are responsible for a very large amount of the gun violence,” Elicker said.

Bronin also added that a “significant” percentage of gun violence victims are on pretrial release, probation or parole. 

Currently, Connecticut has not codified a definition of a serious firearm offense. If an individual is arrested for possession of ghost gun, an illegal high capacity magazine, a stolen gun, an altered weapon, of a gun if they are a felon, or if they shoot or brandish a weapon while threatening to shoot another individual, they will be charged with a serious firearm offense under the CCM’s proposal. According to the proposal, through this definition, Connecticut would be able to better prevent repeat offenders from committing a violent crime with a gun. 

“Gun violence in Connecticut can be attributed by and large to a small number of repeat felony offenders,” said Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin. “Statistical analysis shows that these individuals are doing the shooting and the dying on Connecticut’s streets.  Identifying and holding this group accountable, is the surest way to save lives.”

A repeat offender arrested on a serious firearm offense is also now required to post 30 percent of the bond amount instead of the regular 10 percent for the first $5,000 and 7 percent of any amount in excess of $5,000. 

Moreover, if prosecutors petition the court that a person arrested for a serious firearm offense poses an “extraordinary risk to public safety,” they pay the same 30 percent bond, even without a prior arrest or conviction record. 

Prosecutors will also be allowed to petition a judge to revoke the release of an individual pre-trial if  they are arrested for a serious firearm arrest. 

“We want to make certain that individuals are not back on the street as quickly as they come back on the streets,” said Deb Davis, Director of Project Development and Management for Mothers United Against Violence.  “So we’re standing here as mothers that have had children taken — I never say lost, because we didn’t lose them, because they were taken from us. Our fight is to support proposals like this that are going to make a difference in our communities.”

The CCM has also proposed that if someone is arrested for a serious firearm offense and is either on parole or has three previous felony convictions, they should be returned to police custody. Individuals who are on probation or parole and also pose a “risk to public safety” may also be remanded through an emergency petition.

Under the proposal, the CCM has also called on the legislature to streamline the adjudication process for gun crimes that would also include an expedited process for trials related to people who pose a threat to public safety. 

This year, Lamont has also proposed banning the open-carry of weapons in Connecticut, increasing the age to purchase firearms to 21, making the possession of high-capacity magazines a felony on the first offense, limiting the purchase of handguns to one per person per month and closing loopholes in the state’s anti-straw purchasing laws. He has also proposed updates to the state’s assault weapons ban.

These proposals are part of his biennial budget which he presented to the state legislature on Feb 8. Lamont has also thrown his support behind the CCM’s ten recommendations.  

“I’m urging Connecticut to enroll in a comprehensive treatment plan — one that breaks the cycle of violence with funds for prevention and intervention programs, provides victims with support and raises the stakes for repeat offenders,” said Governor Ned Lamont.  “Though only one part of the state’s broad strategy to reduce gun violence, this proposal will save lives.”

Walcott Mayor Thomas Duncan is the current president of the Connecticut Council of Municipalities. 

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.