Friday March 14,2008
So Greg Costa, the New York-based lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, comes to the Capitol Press Room Friday morning to tell us about a Monday news conference with state gun makers, including Colt, Remington, Marlin, Mossberg and Sturm, Ruger.
Under the umbrella of something called the National Shooting Sports Foundation, they will criticized a bill that would require guns made after 2009 to put ID stamps on bullets.
Costa, you probably don’t remember, was a protagonist in a huge knock-down, drag-out, in-your-face tete-a-tete last year with House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, prior to a vote requiring gun owners to report stolen weapons.
Cafero was trying to get a deal with majority Democrats and Costa, according to witnesses, interfered.
The result was that as pro-gun as much of the GOP House caucus is, Costa is persona non grata with Cafero and his peeps.
Indeed, Rep. Len Greene, R-Beacon Falls and Rep. John Piscopo, R-Thomaston, who initially booked the room for Costa and the gun and ammo makers’ news conference, backed out.
The manufacturers then begged Speaker of the House Jim Amann to secure the room for the Monday dog-and-pony… I mean, live-fire event.
Larry Perosino, spokesman for Amann, D-Milford, said Friday that the speaker was merely being polite to the group, who, after a news conference in the room, will submit testimony to the Judiciary Committee saying it’s too expensive to require them to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on the firing pin of weapons made in the future.
“As a courtesy to the organization, Speaker Amann reserved a room so they could have their press conference, but this does not necessarily mean he’s opposed to the pending legislation,” Perosino said.
There’s a general perception that four House Republicans lost their seats in the 2006 elections because they voted against a similar gun control bill in 2005 and their Democratic challengers made the most of it.
Greene called back later in the day to say that initially, he and Piscopo did not realize Costa was part of the group. “We asked the NSSF to, okay, let Greg be there, but we didn’t want him to speak,” Greene said. When the group insisted Costa would talk to reporters during the news conference, Green and Piscopo terminated their sponsorship of the room, but not their support for the arms makers.
“I don’t believe in the legislation,” Greene said. “Think about fingerprinting a cartridge. I could go to a shooting range, pick up bullets and then go to a crime scene and scatter them around.” He said that most guns used in crimes are illegal.
“This is just another stab at law-abiding people,” Greene said. “I’m kind of hoping the press conference goes well.”Greene said he doesn’t buy the premise of the four lost House GOP seats back in 2006, including the one held by Jack Stone in Fairfield.“I don’t think that was the case at all,” he said. “We saw a huge wave a year and a half ago, where if you were a Republican you didn’t win. Congressman Rob Simmons saved the sub base and ended up losing re-election.”
Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, a gun-control proponent who is chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, said the bill would create an additional cost of “a few dollars” per gun manufactured after January 1, 2010.
“After a while, most guns would be like that,” Lawlor said, adding that police officers asked the General Assembly for the new law. “It makes perfect sense to me and how it adversely affects anyone, I can’t say,” Lawlor said. “The NRA is against everything. In Connecticut, level-headed people are not going to understand why someone would vote against this. I think it will pass, even among legislators from rural districts with a lot of gun owners.” _________________________________________________________________