Norwalk looks to ban guns on City property

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik speaks to the Norwalk Common Council Ordinance Committee, Oct. 20 on Zoom.

NORWALK, Conn. — Guns will not be allowed on City-owned or City-leased properties, except by peace officers, police officers and authorized security personnel, in an ordinance revision that Norwalk Common Council members are working on.

Hunters would be allowed to carry unloaded shotguns at the Veterans Park marina to get to their boats.

“There’s no prohibition whatsoever on hunting, the way that is established right now, what’s allowed by Connecticut State law is obviously still permitted by this new Norwalk ordinance. It’s really a matter of making sure that if people are carrying guns across city property, that they are duly licensed hunters, that their guns are unloaded, and that they’re going to the they’re going to the Marina,” Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Lisa Shanahan (D-District E) said at the Committee’s Oct. 20 meeting.

The Ordinance Committee began discussing this in July, after Mayor Harry Rilling asked for waterfowl hunting to be permanently banned at Calf Pasture Beach, a follow-up to a one-year moratorium issued last year.

“The Mayor thought that it was really kind of a dangerous situation for people to be duck hunting. It’s also kind of nerve racking for people to hear gun guns being exploded on properties and whatnot,” Shanahan said in July.

“We looked at the statute and one of the things that’s a concern for us has been that Connecticut’s an open carry state, anyone can carry guns into any building, that there’s not a posting for guns not to be able to be carried in,” she said on Oct. 20. “And so once that came across our threshold, we were like, ‘well, this if we’re going to address the hunting part, we ought to also consider whether or not we really think that we ought to be allowing people to bring guns on our city properties, leased premises or parks.’”

She said, “Primarily, we basically wanted to also make rules for carrying firearms or hunting in on in or on city-owned or leased properties and facilities. And with the idea to keep employees safe, our citizens safe.”

The Committee voted to table the item to its next meeting, which should be Tuesday.



‘Question the need’

The news hit social media this week with a Reddit post titled, “Norwalk Attacks Second Amendment & Legal Gun Owners.” The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) issued an action alert, the poster said.

CCDL President Holly Sullivan confirmed that Thursday.

“There is no evidence that banning firearms on town property reduces any crimes nor has any impact on public safety,” CCDL said in a statement. “Law abiding gun owners are already conscientious members of our communities. They are not ‘random people,’ but individuals that have been approved to carry a firearm in public places by the Norwalk Chief of Police after having completed a series of steps required by Norwalk and the state of Connecticut. This ban only inhibits upstanding citizens from exercising their means of self defense. We encourage our members to speak up and question the true need for such an ordinance.”

These issues came up in the Oct. 20 Ordinance Committee meeting.

Norwalk doesn’t get “a lot of complaints” about people with guns at Calf Pasture Beach but does get complaints every season, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said. “The concern is always the proximity of the hunters to others, because it’s a highly used area. So it’s not a tremendous amount of complaints.”

Waterfowl hunting is allowed outside a 250-foot radius of the high tide mark at Calf Pasture, Shady Beach and Veterans Park.

Hunters are usually following the rules, Kulhawik said, in response to questions from Council member Thomas Keegan (R-District D).

Council member Nick Sacchinelli (D-At Large), who is not on the Ordinance Committee, said, “I’m fairly confident as written, this (drafted ordinance) is a constitutional infringement. Is it not? Does this open us up to lawsuits?”

“Litigation as it pertains to the second amendment, there’s a lot of it,” Assistant Corporation Counsel Brian Candela replied. “… Anybody has the right to file a lawsuit.”

Candela had researched similar ordinances and provided the Committee with a list from “many” Connecticut communities, as part of drafting the current revision. “Many other municipalities in the state of Connecticut that have similar type gun restrictions,” he said.

Connecticut general statute 29-28 basically “says that a person with a pistol permit is generally allowed to carry such weapon into a building or premises unless the owner prohibits such conduct,” Candela explained.

“Could somebody file a lawsuit? Yes,” Candela said. “The potential success of something like that would be something that I’d have to look into to see if somebody actually challenged one of these municipal ordinances in other jurisdictions, but it’s my understanding that a lot of these other jurisdictions in Connecticut have had this type of restriction for quite some time.”

“I doubt they challenge us,” Council member Tom Livingston (D-District E) said. “They challenge the state statue, wipe out all the statutes in the state.”

Candela suggested the Committee review language in Weston’s ordinance, as it might be incorporated it to prevent people from “misconstruing us infringing on their second amendment right.”



Council members agree: no guns in parks

“I think it’s pretty clear, at least it’s clear to me, that our buildings should be gun-free. I do believe our parks should be gun-free. I don’t like the idea of somebody renting Gallaher estate and having a big party with guns there,” Livingston said.

Given the State statute, Norwalk has a sign in City Hall informing visitors that they cannot bring a weapon in unless they are a police officer “or something along that line,” Candela said. That was put up when someone was talking about bringing in a gun, he said.

The library has inquired about prohibiting weapons in its buildings and by extension, there are other City properties, Candela explained.

The drafted language is broad, Sacchinelli said, asking if a violation would be a crime.

“There would be a criminal penalty. We could make an arrest, it would violate the permit statute,” Kulhawik replied. “…But again, depending on the circumstances, our first step would not necessarily be to arrest the individual. …I wouldn’t expect that someone, you know, who simply made an error and was cooperative would be arrested for it.”

Keegan, Sacchinelli and others pressed for signage on City properties, warning visitors about the law. Kulhawik agreed, but Sacchinelli also speculated about what would happen if a gun owner saw the sign and decided to leave the gun in the car.

“I have a pistol permit,” Sacchinelli said. “I’m legally licensed, not necessarily saying that I want to carry a firearm into City Hall, nor would I, but there are times where I’m transporting… as a legally armed citizen, the concern is if I’m going between these events and going back to my point about out-of-towners, I’d almost rather them have control of their firearm as opposed to having it unsupervised in a vehicle because, you know, we made a parking lot inaccessible to them.”

“I too, am a permitted gun owner and, sadly, not these days as avid, but a hunter,” Council member David Heuvelman (D-District A) said. “I want to make sure that we are, you know, people are duly licensed are not being (given) an undue burden.”

He said, “I don’t want to see the guns in city parks. I mean, that’s, that’s my issue, because I think that’s a that’s a recipe for a larger problem. So that’s sort of my opinion, I think city buildings the same.”


Bryan Meek November 13, 2020 at 7:58 am

Now criminals where know where law abiding citizens are unarmed. Nothing else going on in the city, like businesses shuttering left and right. Glad to see they have their priorities straight.

Scott Vetare November 13, 2020 at 10:20 am

Typical liberal way to control people who obey the laws. I wonder if they’re going to have a metal detector at each entrance to see if anyone has a gun on them. Funny that instead of punishing the bad guys with guns they punish the law abiding citizens. Great job city of Norwalk! Unreal!

Tom November 13, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Lisa shanahan needs to get her facts straight. No one is allowed to shoot vermem in there bock yards unless they have ten acres of land outside city limits,Also not just anyone can walk around with a gun as she has stated, to do so requires a permit that has been signed by the police chief, FBI background check and testing. Sounds like another 2 nd. Amendment hater.

Sam Tyler November 13, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Now only criminals will have guns.
Look at the number of New York City shootings. This will be us.

These are the people we voted for?

Chris Sci November 13, 2020 at 8:51 pm

I’m sure our democrat mayor and all of the democrats who run this city just can’t wait to pass this law. Who exactly is asking for this non problem to be solved? Do we currently have a problem with permitted gun owners brandishing their firearms on city property? Of course we don’t. Just another dumb liberal idea.

CT-Patriot November 13, 2020 at 9:46 pm

Look. It’s not the wild west with side arms visible.

This is Connecticut, we know damn well this state has some of the most restrictive laws when it comes to firearms.

Honestly, no one knows when I am carrying my firearm. Why? It’s concealed! That’s the point! You don’t know so what is the big deal?

If we have passed all background checks just as any person who applies to become a police officer, trooper, sheriff you trust them, why pick on the very same who’ve proven to pass background checks to FBI, tested their safety and proficiency with a weapon and carry concealed?

We get it, guns are scary to some. But that does not give you the right to prevent me from defending myself at a life and death situation or a member of my family.

So, if you don’t know who is armed are not….why bother now?

Honestly, how many times did someone pass you by and you could see the weapon? I’ll bet never.

BTW, maybe some day, that very person you wish to ban carrying a weapon may save your life or the lives of others when there is not a police officer anywhere close. Give that a thought.

Tysen Canevari November 13, 2020 at 10:22 pm

you cant bring a gun to the beach but you can have illegal commercial yards at your house in a residential zone. Where does the council come up with this nonsense?

Ken Prince November 14, 2020 at 7:58 am

300+ years without issue and this is what our common council focuses on? The same with the hunting, no issues beyond paranoid speculation shouldn’t be enough to pass any legislation.

Anonymous November 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

If anyone is wondering where the Reddit thread is, you’ll probably not be shocked to learn that the moderators of the r/norwalk subreddit have hidden it from the timeline. Suppression of free speech? So now they’re attacking our First Amendment rights as well. Here is the direct link if anyone is interested.

steve November 14, 2020 at 10:37 am

I have no objection to people having guns at their house but for all the concerns about “now only the criminals have guns”…I’ve personally known roughly a dozen people killed with a gun. One killed his wife before killing himself, the others all killed themselves. Despite years involved both directly and indirectly in law enforcement, I’ve never had an interaction with a person who was “saved” by using or brandishing a gun. 90%+ of the gun violence here in Norwalk is directed at people involved in drug transactions or gang related. Other than the 2009 Shell Station robbery, the only other homicides were domestic violence. Curious if anyone else has the same experience I’ve had.

Anonymous November 14, 2020 at 12:26 pm

CT Patriot – Technically, Connecticut is an open-carry state. The permit allows you to open-carry or conceal it. If you look at your permit, it does not say concealed. I personally would never open-carry, but could if you wanted.

Peter Franz November 14, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Common sense gun control.
Of course Republicans are upset.
Thank you Norwalk for putting citizen safety first.

Rick November 14, 2020 at 6:27 pm

What is the concrete definition of “city-owned property?”

They mention parks and beaches. What about STREETS and SIDEWALKS?

The terminology in this bill is far too lose and may easily lump in other portions of our community that are not explicitly described in black and white.

This is an egregious attack on our 2nd amendment rights, created by politicians who have sworn an oath to uphold and protect the constitution and each of the liberties and rights it gives us.

Gun-free zones (wherever they are) create restrictions that only affect the law-abiding gun owner. Remember… criminals do not follow laws. These zones create safe havens for criminal actors to conduct illegal activity or cause great harm with no opposition or intervention.
Remember… police officers are usually dispatched after a crime has already been committed.

“Gun-free zones” should instead read “Easy targets for criminals“ as that is all they create. These laws also strengthen the black markets, where criminals obtain their illegal and unregistered firearms.

Anonymous November 15, 2020 at 8:36 am

It is fairly irresponsible and a potential conflict of interest for city council to allow an order to be passed that he knows directly infringes on constitutionaly established rights. The city will be forced to pay to defend an indefensible position when sued. The city accepted payment to validate that these permit holders are suitable to carry a firearm, but now wants to prohibit the ability to carry on public land? Somone with common sense needs to stand up and stop this path prior to the city paying to defend a costly, un-winnable lawsuit.

Claire Schoen (NoN Board President) November 15, 2020 at 9:48 am

Wow, I was naively unaware that the person sitting next to me at a meeting in City Hall could be armed. Thanks to this story, I’m aware — and will voice my opinion to my elected representatives.

Thanks to this site, we are informed at the very local level. Please don’t take it for granted. Without your support, this local news site couldn’t continue.

If you haven’t already done so, please consider making a donation — any amount makes a difference — and yes, it’s fully tax-deductible.


SF November 16, 2020 at 7:31 pm

What we need are harsher penalties for the criminals committing these crimes, going after the legal gun owner does nothing to make our city safer – he is not breaking the law. How often do we hear of parolees or ex-cons committing crimes with guns that have violent criminal histories already? Why are they being released to walk on our streets with a slap on the wrist for previous crimes???

A very good article about the pros of gun ownership in America – https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/gun-ownership-in-america/

Joe November 17, 2020 at 9:17 am

Has there ever actually been an incident involving a legal gun owner on city property? Sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

John C. Romano November 17, 2020 at 10:25 am

Oh boy, is this a precursor to gun confiscation. City property belongs to the citizens. Law abiding licensed carry is a right given through the second amendment. Having gone through the process of getting permitted. I remember when this first came about several years ago. Someone complained to Bob Duff about walking near Calf Pasture and she heard a gun go off. Boom, Little Bobby jumped all over this. But somewhere in the process got push back from the State, now we are trying a back door through the city. City/Citizens have right as well.If there was no second amendment (Thank God there is) THEN these rules could be put into effect. How safe will the majority be when only criminals without a care in the world, who rules mean nothing, carry anyway and use firearms against us. When you have a firearm licence you are duly authorized period. Why take our rights away. No one will be safer, just the contrary.

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