Your Dec. 6 Opinion page included a letter on the subject of gun control which was both factually incorrect and offered suggestions that were patently absurd ("Gun control a must to curb mass shootings."
The common thread that runs through most mass shootings relates to the apparent mental instability of the perpetrators. Regardless of documented history of the derangement of mass shooters, both the Connecticut statutes as well as federal laws, with the exception of court mandated psychological treatment, do not cross reference background checks with formal documents evidencing a perpetrator's history of mental illness. Repeatedly, the concerns at both the federal and state levels have been patient privacy and failure to comply with existing HPPA laws.
Connecticut for almost two decades has required background checks for all handgun sales. In 2013, enacted legislation further extended background checks to rifles and shotguns and ascribed certain cosmetic characteristics to existing rifles that would now require their classification and registration as "assault weapons." None of these measures effectively dealt with the mental history of potential gun purchasers. Further, purchases of ammunition, rifles and shotguns in Connecticut are now limited to those who possess valid state-issued credentials. Obtaining such credentials requires fingerprinting and satisfaction of both federal and state background checks and imposes additional administrative burdens on our state. Requirements of background checks, weapons registration, ammunition permits, all have a zero deterrent effect on those intent on criminal behavior.
Connecticut's gun control laws overlay a variety of pre-transaction government approvals on those wishing to own firearms legally. Those interested in obtaining weapons illegally, by definition, do not submit to the required registration and background checks. It is ludicrous to proffer that by instituting further gun control measures, that those obtaining weapons illegally will abide by the law. Both prosecuting and defense criminal attorneys attest that in cases involving gun violence, perpetrators do not employ weapons that are registered in their names. The myriad gun control statutes, of which there are presently in excess of 20,000 nationally, do not deter criminal activity but merely impose a host of ineffective restrictions on legitimate gun ownership.
The need to interrelate mental illness history with gun ownership may be the only effective means to preventing future gun violence on a mass level. Usually those who are most vocal concerning further gun control limitations, are the same people who raise issues of invasion of privacy when mental illness histories are suggested to be part of the background checks for which they clamor.