REDDING, Conn. – Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs did something Monday night at a public forum on gun violence that he said police chiefs rarely do: He advocated for six forms of gun control legislation.
“Police chiefs are the executive branch, not the legislative branch,” Fuchs said to the state legislators in attendance. “You make the laws, and I enforce them.”
But after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, he said he supports such legislation. Fuchs started by advocating for a ban on high-capacity gun magazines to all but law enforcement. He displayed the assault rifle supplied to all Redding officers and the 20- and 30-bullet magazines that are used with it.
Fuchs recommended restricting assault rifles to police and military personnel; providing access to mental health records to those who review gun applications; giving police chiefs power in denying applications; requiring all firearms to be secured; and giving police the tools to protect residents.
Passing these laws “will turn a local tragedy into an opportunity for change,” he said.
The legislators he shared the stage with offered mixed views on gun control. State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican who represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton, strongly supported gun control. But Republican state Reps. John Shaban, who represents Easton, Redding and Weston, and Dan Carter, who represents parts of Danbury, Bethel, Newtown and Redding, emphasized the rights of gun owners.
But after a resident said that focusing on gun control gives people a false sense of security, Shaban said he supports a three-pronged approach to legislative change, which includes gun control, school security and mental health reform.
A variety of bills will go to committee for legislators to consider, Boucher said. Shaban said he’s a member of the Judicial Committee, which will review some proposed legislation, and Carter said he’s working on a committee with Boucher.
“We have a lot of things to do to make tough laws and respect citizens' Second Amendment rights,” he said.
A crowd of about 150 residents at the Community Center attended and asked questions. A woman suggested that background checks be administered to all members of an applicant’s family, and Boucher said that could be considered with legislation relating to gun storage.