To all: Obviously the events of December 14 have left us all in an emotional state. Much debate will ensue once again on steps that can be taken to possibly prevent such horrific acts in the future. The debate if like past debates will be lengthy with the end result being little progress.
Many people say the problem is so complex and multi-faceted that every suggestion for change is discounted because it cannot be shown to prevent, in its entirety, the concern at hand. It is true that there is not just one action that can be taken to prevent these types of mass killings as well as the murders that take place in our country on a daily basis from the use of guns, but does that mean that we should take no action , small as it may be , to in somehow stem the tide of these senseless murders.
Bans on assault weapons are in my mind a no brainer as well as limits on the number of multi clips that can be purchased. My concern however is more fundamental.
As CEO of the Town I am inserted into the gun permitting process. An individual secures a permit form from the Resident Troopers Office. The Resident Troopers do a criminal background check and then pass the application form to me for final signature with their recommendation.
The form merely requires some assertions on the individuals behalf such as that they have no mental health issues, current residence etc. No supporting documentation is required from a licensed mental health provider, no information is required as to who else lives in the household of the applicant and whether any individuals currently living in the household have mental health issues, no information is required on how the guns will be secured while in the home, and of course no information is required on the type of gun(s) that are going to be purchased or their intended use.
In addition once the permit is issued to the best of my knowledge there is no re-permitting required for either time or changed circumstances. So, as the Town Official required to sign off on these most important permits I do so with just the affirmation of the individual and with no real knowledge as to the suitability of the applicant for such a permit.
Contrast this process with the one my daughter recently had to go through to study abroad where I had to get for her a certified letter from a mental health provider that she was of sound mind and body to enter their country and university. I am not looking to get out in front of the gun control issue, but I think as the permitting process stands today it is impossible for me to sign off on permits with any sense of confidence that the person receiving the permit is capable of using a firearm safely and in accordance with the law.
The easy way out for some is to see if this entire function can be delegated to the Resident State Troopers Office and leave the Chief Executive out of the process. That may make me feel better if that is possible but that does nothing to improve the system and perhaps prevent one senseless injury or even worse a death in Tolland or the rest of the state.
I would ask that you as State leaders look closely at the permitting process over the next few months and make it a priority to enhance process by in the very least requiring that each applicant provide a certified statement from a licensed mental health provider that the applicant is of sound mind and body to own and operate a firearm and that there is no one currently residing in the household of the applicant who has any known mental health issues.
Furthermore there should be a requirement that each applicant secure and provide proof that they have an appropriate lock box to store the weapon(s) in the household. Others may have ideas as well as to how the process can be enhanced as well so discussion with police officials and Town Officials on this topic would certainly be appropriate. CCM has recently approved a motion to study this issue as well as others related to gun enforcement.
In the meantime, until there is some change in the process, I have asked the Town Attorney to research whether I can deny permits for lack of suitable information and require that each applicant request a hearing before the state who could then issue the permit under their authority. Please contact me if you would like to discuss this issue further.