Connecticut is poised to pass the most comprehensive gun laws in the country, after a group of bipartisan legislators agreed on a package of reforms that includes universal background checks and outlaws magazines that can hold over ten bullets.
Over 100 weapons will be banned in Connecticut if a new package of gun reforms becomes law, as expected. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
Connecticut, the host of the horrific Newtown massacre at Sandyhook Elementary, is poised to pass the most comprehensive gun laws in the country, after a group of bipartisan legislators agreed on a package of reforms that includes universal background checks and outlaws magazines that can hold over ten bullets. The legislation also bans ban armor-piercing bullets, establishes safety standards for school buildings, allows mental health training for teachers, and expands mental health research in the state. Connecticut already bans certain assault weapons, and that list would grow by more than 100 guns. People who already own those guns would be able to keep them, but loading them beyond ten bullets would be illegal (firing ranges excepted).
Connecticut took a unique approach to this legislation: they went bipartisan when they didn't have to. Connecticut has a Democratic Governor, Dannel Malloy, and Democratic majorities in both houses. Democrats could have advanced this legislation without any input from Republicans, but they chose to work with Republicans to show that gun laws can, incredibly, transcend politics.
"What really breaks the mold, if not breaks the gridlock is the idea that we as Democrats worked with Republicans, and you saw today the republican Senate Leader and House Leader in the State Legislature, stand with us to support this bill. If we can do that in Connecticut, this ought to move across the country, and they ought to hear that loud and clear in Washington D.C.," said Donald Williams, Democratic President Pro-Tem in the Connecticut Legislature.
That said, the reforms in Connecticut's gun bill are almost a full suite of what a fully Democratic legislature might have passed. By working with Republicans, Democrats insulate themselves from attacks by the gun lobby. Not that the gun lobby didn't have anything to say about this:
"There is nothing in this package that would have stopped someone like Adam Lanza," said Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, referring to the gunman who killed 26 children and adults December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut. "In his case, he stole the guns and went on a murderous rampage."
Mr. Wilson counters his own point: if law-abiding citizens weren't allowed to purchase high capacity weapons like the ones Adam Lanza used, Lanza would have had to settle for guns he would have had to reload more often. Maybe someone could have stopped him while he did. To say that these laws only affect law-abiding citizens implies that criminals have some stash of guns that they can draw on whenever they want.
It's unlikely that gun legislation with any teeth will pass through the federal government, so states like Connecticut, New York and Colorado taking action are what is needed to advance gun sanity in this country. Unless you are anticipating a lawless zombie apocalypse, there is no reason for a law-abiding citizen to have a high-capacity automatic weapon.