Connecticut lawmakers introduced one of the strongest gun control bills in the nation Monday, sending a message to the rest of the country that a bipartisan agreement could be made on the issue. The proposals come after weeks of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. The bill is expected to pass both chambers of the state’s General Assembly on Wednesday.
“Knowing that that tragedy happened in Connecticut, it was up to Connecticut to show the way,” Republican House Minority Leader Larry Cafero said at a press conference in Hartford. “And I’m very proud to say today the package that we are introducing … has accomplished that goal.”
Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly, making passage of the proposed legislation largely certain. Connecticut’s gun control proposals come after New York strengthened its gun restrictions in January and Colorado passed new laws last month. The gun control debate remains highly divided at the national level, with advocates disagreeing how to respond to the periodic tragedies and steady gun violence that have gripped the nation. Last week President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to remember those who have died to gun violence when voting on upcoming gun control proposals.
Connecticut’s gun control bill strengthens the state’s pre-existing ban on assault weapons, adding guns like that used by Adam Lanza on December 14, 2012 to kill 20 elementary school children and six adults. In total, the new bill lists 160 banned assault weapons. Someone who already has a gun on the list does not have to confiscate their weapon, and they can bequeath it to a family member, but they are only allowed to sell them to certain dealers who must then sell the gun to the state.
The new proposal also puts forward a simpler definition of what constitutes an assault weapon. The Hartford Courant reports that Connecticut’s current gun control law defines an assault rifle as having two military-style characteristics, such as a pistol grip and a flash suppressor, out of a list of several. Now a gun only needs to match one of the characteristics on the list.
The bill bans the purchase of high-capacity magazines, but it does not force people to confiscate the magazines they already own. Lawmakers did place limits on the use of the magazines, only allowing owners to load over 10 rounds inside of their own homes and on firing ranges.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s a package that the majority of the people of Connecticut I know will be proud of,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said. The Republican’s district includes the town of Newtown, Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place.
Connecticut lawmakers have sent governments across the US a message with their new gun control bill, but it remains to be seen how the nation will respond.
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