- Ominously dubbed the "turn in your neighbor"
law, a new Connecticut gun control provision -- which proponents predicted
would be rarely used -- has already resulted in police seizing firearms
and ammunition from four gun owners since Oct. 1 when the law took effect.
- Hailed as groundbreaking by gun control advocates, the
law reportedly opens up a new frontier for gun laws in the coming election
- As originally written, the provision would have allowed
seizure of firearms by police based on unproven allegations by any two
persons in an affidavit to a judge. The language was later modified to
require that two police officers or a state's attorney go before a judge
with the belief, after investigation, that an individual "poses a
risk of imminent personal injury to himself or herself or to other individuals,"
in order to obtain a warrant to seize the subject's firearms. No crime
needs to have been committed for the seizure to take place.
- Alleged threatening behavior, cruelty to animals, alcohol
and drug abuse or prior confinement in a psychiatric facility can be considered
by a judge in assessing whether an individual poses an imminent risk of
danger. The law requires that a hearing be held within 14 days of the firearm
seizure, although critics say in practice the 14-day hearing will be delayed
for months. If the subject is proven at the hearing to be an "imminent
risk," he loses his firearms for one year.
- Thompson Bosee, of Greenwich, Conn., had his guns and
ammunition seized by police on Oct. 29 under the new law. Bosee told WorldNetDaily
he suspects that a neighbor, with whom he has had words regarding the neighbor's
driving on Bosee's property, might have reported him.
- "They had a warrant for my guns, they arrested my
guns," said Bosee. A member of both the NRA and the American Gunsmithing
Association, Bosee said he works on his guns in his garage and is not ashamed
of it. Police simultaneously served a "failure to appear" warrant
from an eight-year-old traffic charge.
- Although Greenwich Police would not comment, they released
a list of the guns and ammunition they seized from Bosee, including six
handguns, three rifles, one shotgun, one submachine gun and 3,108 rounds
- A spokeswoman from Handgun Control Inc. told WorldNetDaily,
"The gun lobby likes to use scare tactics in order to frighten people
away from any kind of reasonable gun control laws. We support the law.
It has to meet a pretty strict standard, we feel it is in the general interest
of the person themselves as well as the general public. We think there
should be an outlet for families to say, `Look, my sister or my cousin
is showing signs of losing it, we know he has a gun, we want to make sure
he can't hurt himself or others.' They should have that option." Asked
if HCI would like to see the law in other states, she answered, "If
other states want a similar law, we certainly would support it."
- To many, the "gun lobby" means the National
Rifle Association. However, a spokesman described the NRA's position on
the issue to WorldNetDaily only as "neutral."
- But Jerry Tramontano of the Gun Owners Action League,
likened the provision, which was tacked onto an instant check bill, to
the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. The GOA has been a long-standing
opponent of instant check, he told WorldNetDaily, believing it amounts
to a national registration database. Lamenting what he sees as a lukewarm
defense of the Second Amendment in Connecticut, he said, "Look what
happens when you're willing to compromise a little -- you get a lot,"
adding that one of the law's victims is already planning a constitutional
- Attorney Ralph Sherman, chairman of Connecticut's pro-gun
"Gunsafe" group acknowledged that the search and seizure provision,
which he opposes, did result from a compromise on the total gun bill the
NRA supported. The Connecticut legislature is not very "pro-gun,"
he said, but is divided on the issue. The state would have ended up with
an even worse bill had gun rights advocates not compromised, he said. The
huge Firearms Safety Act had 20 provisions attached to it, some of which
were positive for gun owners, he said.
- The so-called "turn in your neighbor" provision
allows for the issuance of a search warrant without the necessity of meeting
the basic constitutional requirement of probable cause, said Sherman. Probable
cause, he explained, means there must be good reason to believe that the
items being searched for are connected to a crime -- not just a general
feeling that somebody might commit a crime someday.
- The law's cruelty to animals justification for gun seizure
scares him the most. "If I throw a rock or a newspaper at a dog in
my yard or in my garden, that doesn't mean I'm mentally unbalanced. What
if a neighbor doesn't like me and sees that?"
- The law also violates the due process principle, Sherman
said, which establishes that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.
If someone points a weapon at another without justification and threatens
his life, said Sherman, "fine, take the gun or knife or can of gasoline
away and arrest him." But a verbal threat like "I'm going to
get you someday," happens all the time, and is not justification for
seizing guns, he said. "Police can always seize property in connection
with a crime. The purpose of search and seizure is to get evidence that
somebody committed a crime."
- Joe Graborz, Executive Director of the Connecticut Civil
Liberties Union, an affiliate of the ACLU, told WorldNetDaily the law "continues
to invest unusual and far-reaching powers in police authority that does
not belong there" by requiring "police to act as psychologists
in trying to predict and interpret behavior." He said the warrant
can be issued on just the complaint of two police officers, without the
need for anything more as far as suspicion of a crime having been committed.
"What is the standard of proof on this, where the police authority
acting as the government violate your right to be safe and sound from undue
interference in your own home? The way this law is written, it can and
will be easily abused by police."
- In the wake of a recent shooting by a Xerox worker in
Hawaii, Handgun Control spokeswoman Naomi Paiss told ABC news that the
already heavily gun-controlled state could use the law Connecticut just
passed. The ranking member of the Judiciary Committee in Connecticut, Republican
Rep. Robert Farr, seemed to concur, telling WorldNetDaily: "The idea
is to get the guns away from individuals that clearly shouldn't have them."
- At a Nov. 4 panel discussion on the controversial law
at the Hartford Statehouse, Democratic Rep. Richard Tulisiano said he opposes
the provision mainly on Fourth Amendment grounds, declaring, "We've
created the home invasion under color of law." Anything found in the
search for guns can be used against you, said Tulisiano, such as cash,
which will be confiscated as drug money.
- "Anybody with money is going to be a drug dealer,
a dog will sniff it, all money is tainted," he said
- Farr defended the law, citing the example of a mentally
troubled war veteran in his district as the first to have his guns seized,
saying that's what it is designed to do -- prevent trouble before it happens.
There is no "magical line" at a citizen's front door, Farr added,
noting that police can enter without a warrant in many emergencies. It
is difficult with current gun laws to get firearms away from mentally disturbed
persons, said Farr. "I'm willing to risk them losing guns for 14 days,
than having a tragedy."
- A member of the Pistol Permit Review Board, M. Peter
Kuck, said, "I find this law to be pretty dangerous, Does this sound
like America to you? It's not the America I grew up in."