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Metal Detectors Will Welcome Public Monday

by Christine Stuart | Jan 27, 2013 6:08pm
(7) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Public Safety, State Capitol

When visitors enter the Legislative Office Building Monday they will be asked to do something unusual—go through a metal detector.

The Capitol police have decided to station two metal detectors at the west entrance of the building for a legislative hearing on gun control, which is expects to draw hundreds.

The decision was made by Capitol Police Chief Walter Lee on Friday.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said the idea of installing the metal detectors for Monday’s hearing was discussed by the staff for legislative leaders in both parties.

“I was not in favor of installing them, but I’m not a security expert,” McKinney said Saturday. “We are relying on the expertise of Chief lee who believes he needs to do it.”

The two portable metal detectors, which have been in storage for two years, have been installed at the west entrance of the Legislative Office Building.

“As far as Senator Williams and Senator Looney are concerned, they believe that Chief should be able to implement security precautions that he sees fit to make,” Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Sen. President Donald Williams, said Saturday.

McKinney speculated that Monday’s hearing would be the largest of the four public hearings held by the bipartisan legislative committed and will attract hundreds of people.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 500 people have already submitted testimony.

The idea of installing metal detectors on a more permanent basis has been floated as an idea by Rep . Ernest Hewett, D-New London.

Earlier this month, Hewett said the proposal to install metal detectors is not a commentary in any way on the demeanor or character of gun owners. He said he just wants to make sure that the worst that can happen in the building is a fist fight.

“If someone can kill 20 kids, then they won’t think twice about killing 20 legislators,” Hewett has said.

Last weekend, 1,000 gun enthusiasts turned out for a rally outside the state Capitol. Some of them carried their guns.

Carrying a gun on the grounds of the state Capitol is allowed, but bringing a gun into the state Capitol or the Legislative Office Building is prohibited.

Connecticut, like a majority of states, doesn’t have metal detectors installed at the state Capitol or Legislative Office Building, where most of their business is conducted.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, including those in New York and Massachusetts.

Some state Capitols screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while some — like California — exempt state employees and legislators.

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(7) Comments

posted by: CharlieH | January 27, 2013  6:30pm

Is this a first? Has this ever been done for previous hearings?

posted by: redlady | January 27, 2013  6:39pm

Devisive move, but it will not deter 2nd Amendment defenders.

posted by: Christine Stuart | January 27, 2013  10:24pm

Christine Stuart

CharlieH,
People seem to recall metal detectors being used in the early 1990s for other gun hearings, but no one can say with certainty and I can’t find it in the Courant’s archives. Sorry.
Christine

posted by: CharlieH | January 28, 2013  6:36am

Thanks Christine. In the early 90s we had Ruby Ridge and Waco….and Weicker called in a special session to tighten up gun laws. Eleven misdemeanors were to be treated as felonies when it came to gun rights. Any kind of domestic incident was also included. A lot of permits were revoked when that special session ended. It even affected some cops.

Regarding Friday’s decision, Chief Lee’s primary job is to protect those legislators and the public. I think he’s less concerned with the politics of the day than he is in doing everything he can to fulfill his job duties.

posted by: lisalake | January 28, 2013  7:16am

I will add my dismay at the very bias and partisan, and transparent intimidation tactics of the workgroup and legislature toward 2nd Amendment advocates, in the form of metal detectors at the capitol building in “preparation” for meetings, the choice of having a task force hearing at “ground zero” in Newtown, and last but not least, testimony from Aurora, Colorado regarding consideration for Connecticut law.

posted by: Durham68 | January 28, 2013  12:04pm

“If someone can kill 20 kids, then they won’t think twice about killing 20 legislators,” Hewett has said.

Unless these machines are a new permanent feature in the building, this is reprehensible. The folks attending the hearing are law abiding gun owners who are taking time out of their work schedules to contribute to the legislative process. Comparing this group to a mass murderer or any criminal in any way can only serve to bias the discussion. Sadly, I think it is indicative of how many of our representatives see gun owners in general, as a killer waiting to happen.

posted by: Noteworthy | January 28, 2013  12:31pm

Are the metal detectors being installed because advocates for the 2nd Amendment and quality, thoughtful debate and rules are coming to testify? Or are the weasels who occupy the LOB on a daily basis of such close interactions with those they pretend to represent? Either way, installing metal detectors is a pathetic over the top reaction to no threats, imagined or otherwise. Blaming it on the Capitol Police is even worse. This just goes to show you can’t stop stupid.