Connecticut set to pass sweeping gun law

Democrats and Republicans unite to support gun controls following Newtown massacre

Lil Martenson, (
L
left) a teacher in Newtown, Connecticut, 
teacher, 
arrives to join 
Newtown 
residents of the town protesting outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation
 in Newtown, Connecticut March 28, 2013
 in Newtown. Photograph: Reuters 
Residents began receiving robocalls from the NRA trying to enlist them in efforts to defeat new statewide gun control proposals, three months after a gunman killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION CRIME LAW)

Lil Martenson, ( L left) a teacher in Newtown, Connecticut, teacher, arrives to join Newtown residents of the town protesting outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, Connecticut March 28, 2013 in Newtown. Photograph: Reuters Residents began receiving robocalls from the NRA trying to enlist them in efforts to defeat new statewide gun control proposals, three months after a gunman killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION CRIME LAW)

 

Lawmakers in Connecticut are expected to vote today on what politicians in the state have called the toughest gun ownership laws ever introduced in the United States.

Democrats and Republicans have agreed new legislation that will include a ban on sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets, similar to those used in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, last December that left 20 children and six adults dead.

The new proposals are expected before both houses of Connecticut’s general assembly today when legislators look certain to vote through requirements forcing background checks on all gun sales and an expansion of the state’s ban on assault weapons.

A register of weapons offenders will also be created in the first such state-wide register in the US. Gun purchasers will also be required to take a firearms safety course, be fingerprinted and submit themselves to a national criminal background check before buying any rifle, shotgun or ammunition.

Tighter gun control measures have also been passed in New York and Colorado but proposals to bolster gun laws countrywide through the US Congress have stalled as pro-gun supporters lobby politicians intensively and senators struggle to agree a plan for near-universal background checks on gun purchases.


Obama to urge reform
President Barack Obama plans to visit a police academy in Colorado today to continue to press publicly for an overhaul of the country’s gun laws.

Connecticut’s proposals were agreed by politicians following cross-party agreement by Democrats and Republicans in a state still reeling from the Newtown massacre.

Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat and House speaker in the state, said it was critical that legislators in Connecticut “send a message to Washington and the rest of the country that this is the way to get this job done, to do it in an effective, meaningful and thoughtful way, and to do it on a bipartisan basis”.

The proposed legislation does not include an outright ban on the ownership of high-capacity magazines, despite emotional pleas from relatives of 11 of the Sandy Hook victims on Monday. Gun owners will still be able to arm their weapons with large-capacity magazines in their homes or at shooting ranges.


High-capacity magazines
Adam Lanza, who carried out the Newtown massacre, carried 10 magazines that each contained 30 rounds when he entered the school. Prosecutors said he fired 154 shots in less than five minutes from a Bushmaster military-style assault rifle, using six 30-round magazines, before he shot himself.

A letter signed by 24 family members of the Sandy Hook victims described the high-capacity magazines as “the most dangerous feature of an assault weapon” and called for them to be banned outright.

“We have learned that in the time it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape,” Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in Sandy Hook, told reporters on Monday.

“We ask ourselves every day, every minute, if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?”