Civilian disarmament advocates insist that the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre illustrates the dangers of inadequately restrictive firearms laws. That assumption is impossible to reconcile with the fact that Connecticut’s state government regards individual firearms ownership not as a right but as a highly conditional privilege subject to revocation without notice, on the whim of an unaccountable bureaucrat.
In 1999, the Connecticut legislature enacted Sec. 29-38c, a measure allowing the police to confiscate firearms from anybody believed to pose "a risk of imminent personal injury to himself … or to other individuals." All that is required is a sworn complaint "by any state’s attorney or assistant state’s attorney or by any two police officers to any judge of the Superior Court." A warrant will then be issued allowing police to confiscate the firearms and hold them for up to a year.
The gun confiscation measure was enacted in October 1999, about a year and a half after the last pre-Sandy Hook mass shooting to occur in the Nutmeg State. The assailant, Matthew Beck, was an ex-employee of the Internal Revenue Service who at the time was employed as an accountant at the Connecticut Lottery Corporation.
A few months before the March, 1998 massacre, Beck had been granted a medical leave for stress-related symptoms. His application for a promotion had been denied. Several of his co-workers and relatives had become concerned about his emotional state. Some of his close friends believed that Beck suffered from suicidal depression. But nobody had expected that he would arrive at work one morning, take out a Glock, and start gunning down his supervisors.
As is always the case in episodes of this kind, the shooter ended the rampage on his own terms, killing himself before the police arrived. The on-scene security guard was similarly useless: The only aid he provided was to suggest to the victims that they take refuge in a wooded area nearby.
Just weeks after the shooting, State Representative Michael Lawlor introduced the gun confiscation measure.
State police Lieutenant Robert Kiehm explained to the Associated Press that the purpose of the measure is to give police officers the power "to take some proactive steps instead of waiting for something to happen."