April 2, 2013 in Nation/World

Connecticut reaches deal on tough gun laws

Measure includes bans, registration
Susan Haigh Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Relatives and supporters of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims asked lawmakers to include a ban on existing high-capacity magazines in legislation addressing gun control. The final proposal only requires that they be registered.
(Full-size photo)

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut lawmakers announced a deal Monday on what they called some of the toughest gun laws in the country that were proposed after the December mass shooting in the state, including a ban on new high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the massacre that left 20 children and six educators dead.

The proposal includes new registration requirements for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets, something of a disappointment for some family members of Newtown victims who wanted an outright ban on the possession of all high-capacity magazines and had traveled to the state Capitol on Monday to ask lawmakers for it.

The package also creates what lawmakers said is the nation’s first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry, creates a new “ammunition eligibility certificate,” imposes immediate universal background checks for all firearms sales, and extends the state’s assault weapons ban to 100 new types of firearms and requires that a weapon have only one of several features in order to be banned.

The newly banned weapons could no longer be bought or sold in Connecticut, and those legally owned already would have to be registered with the state, just like the high-capacity magazines.

“No gun owner will lose their gun,” said House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., a Norwalk Republican. “No gun owner will lose their magazines.”

The bill also addresses mental health and school security measures.

The proposal was revealed to rank-and-file lawmakers Monday after weeks of bipartisan, closed-door negotiations among legislative leaders. A vote was expected Wednesday in the General Assembly, where Democrats control both chambers, making passage all but assured. The bill would then be sent to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has helped lead efforts to strengthen the state’s gun laws but has not yet signed off on the proposed legislation.

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said his group will live with the lawmakers’ decision not to ban them as other states have done. He said the leaders made their decision based on what was politically feasible.

“We have to be satisfied. There are still other things that we want, we’ll be back for in later sessions,” he said. “But for now, it’s a good thing.”

Robert Crook, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition of Sportsmen, contended the bill would not have changed what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the gunman fired off 154 shots with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle within five minutes. He went through six 30-round magazines, though half were not completely empty, and police said he had three other 30-round magazines in addition to one in the rifle.

“They can register magazines and do all the rest of this stuff. It isn’t going to do anything,” he said.

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