USA Today: Conn. lawmakers set to pass nation’s toughest gun laws

Good move Connecticut. A move in the right direction.

Conn. lawmakers set to pass nation’s toughest gun laws

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
11:15a.m. EDT April 3, 2013

The governor says he will sign the bill drawn up by a bipartisan panel after the Newtown massacre.

The Connecticut General Assembly is poised to pass the nation’s toughest gun laws Wednesday that would strengthen an existing ban on semiautomatic assault rifles, limit the capacity of ammo magazines, and require background checks for all weapon sales, including at gun shows.

It would also establish the nation’s first statewide registry for people convicted of crimes involving dangerous weapons. Access to the registry would be available only to law enforcement.

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, who said Tuesday he would sign the bill, singled out the ban on the sales of about 100 additional models of assault rifles.

“I think these weapons are inherently more dangerous than others,” Malloy said. “When they are abused, they are more dangerous than others.”

Supporters on both sides of the issue planned to turn out for rallies Wednesday in Hartford. The Connecticut Post reported that shuttle buses for pro-gun forces would operate to and from a sporting goods outlet in East Hartford.

The bill, which will go to the state Senate first and then the House, was drawn up by a bipartisan task force spurred by the Newtown shooting spree in December that left 20 schoolchildren and six adult staff dead.

“There were some who said the ‘Connecticut effect’ would wear off — that it would wear off in Connecticut and it would wear off across the country,” Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, a Democrat, said at a Capitol news conference Tuesday where he was joined by five other key lawmakers.

“This bill is the strongest and most comprehensive gun bill in the country,” he said, calling the measure “a model for the other 49 states and Congress.”

Adam Lanza’s student I.D. from Western Connecticut State University in 2008 when he was 16 years old.(Photo: Western Connecticut State University)
Among its provisions are a requirement of eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition. Penalties for illegal possession and firearms trafficking would also be
significantly increased.

In addition to the controls on guns and ammunition, the law would set safety standards for school buildings, allow mental health training for teachers and expand mental health research in the state.

The bill would not ban large-capacity magazines outright, but would grandfather them in from Jan. 1, 2014. But the magazines could only be loaded with 10 or fewer rounds, except in the owner’s home or at a shooting range.

The likely passage of the bill has spurred gun sales across the state, particularly on the purchase of large-capacity magazines, The (Danbury) News-Times reports.

The newspaper says that sales at the K-5 Arms Exchange in Milford on Tuesday were brisk all day, especially for the popular AR-15 rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Gun rights advocates question whether the legislation would have done anything to stop Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who blasted his way in to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 24. State police say he fired off 154 shots with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle as he killed 20 first-graders and six educators. He had earlier killed his mother, Nancy, and later killed himself.

“If it (the legislation) did something to prevent this incident, where the fault lies with the individual and the mother, not with the legitimate gun owners in this state, then we could probably support something,” said Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.

Contributing: Associated Press

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