A promising part of gun control legislation passed this week by Connecticut's General Assembly was the creation of a deadly weapons offender registry.
At least it started out as a good idea, before it got derailed.
The new law says that as of Jan. 1, 2014, anyone convicted of offenses committed with a deadly weapon –— including guns, knives, blackjacks, bludgeons and metal knuckles — must register with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
The registration will include name, address, email address, physical description, offense and sentence. The offender will be photographed and fingerprinted.
The deadly weapons offender registry is much like the sex offender registry, which alerts parents when a sex offender has taken up residence near one's home or neighborhood school, for example. There's only one problem with the deadly weapons offender registry:
You can't see it.
Not unless you're a police officer.
The legislature intentionally put this new registry off-limits to the public. It is not a public record for purposes of the state's Freedom of Information Act — just the latest example of state government slamming the door of secrecy on the people who pay the bills.
Creating the registry — the first of its kind in the country and something police chiefs have been requesting for years, according to Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven — is a step forward. But restricting it to police eyes only, denying the public pertinent information about potentially dangerous people, is an outrage.
Republican state Sen. Rob Kane of Watertown called for the registry to be public. "I think it's important because we're talking about bad guys here," Mr. Kane said during debate on the bill. "I think the public has a right to know." Good for you, Mr. Kane.
Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said he might be open to making the registry public in a future bill. How fast can you introduce that bill, Mr. Williams?