HARTFORD – Urging state legislators to act swiftly, Governor Dannel P. Malloy has proposed a set of gun control laws intended to make the state a safer place.
The governor’s proposal comes in the wake of the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which a 20-year-old gunman shot his way into the school with a semiautomatic rifle, after which he shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators before killing himself as police approached.
On January 21, Gov Malloy said the proposed laws amount to “comprehensive, common sense gun violence prevention.”
The governor proposes action in five areas to strengthen state gun control.
The proposals would: make background checks for gun buyers universal and comprehensive; ban high-capacity ammunition clips; strengthen the assault weapons ban; promote safer storage of firearms; improve the enforcement of existing applicable laws.
In response to the governor’s legislative proposal, some state lawmakers asked whether the proposal has impeded the work of a large bipartisan legislative committee whose goal is to enact gun control laws that are acceptable to both major political parties.
The Democratic governor discounted that prospect.
In a statement, Gov Malloy said, in part, “While some problems are more complicated and require further study – including the intersection of mental health and gun ownership – there are clear, common sense steps we can take right now to improve Connecticut’s gun laws.”
“I believe we need to enhance and expand our system of background checks, so that whether you buy a gun from dealer, a private individual, or at a gun show – you must go through a background check before anyone hands you a firearm,” he said.
“We need to expand the permitting process to cover more guns and keep guns away from people who have been convicted of violent crimes or making violent threats,” he added.
“And we must track the sale of ammunition as well as firearms,” the governor said.
“We need to ban large-capacity magazines, and allow only the sale of magazines that hold 10 rounds or less. We need to strengthen our assault weapons ban. We have decent laws on the books today. But that law didn’t prevent the sale of the AR-15,” Gov Malloy added.
Gov Malloy said, “I am proposing that we change the definition of ‘assault weapon’ to any semiautomatic that has at least one military characteristic, and ban the sale of these weapons in our state.”
“We need to expand laws around gun storage, so that these weapons don’t fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Gun owners have a responsibility to store their weapons safely, and should be held accountable if a person is injured because of an improperly stored weapon,” he said.
“And we need to increase the responsibility of those involved in the sale and use of guns. The fact is that if you sell guns, or work at a gun range, and you see or know of illegal activity involving a firearm or banned magazine, you have a responsibility to tell someone in law enforcement,” the governor said.
“If you see someone illegally using a banned weapon or magazine, you have an obligation to do something about that,” he said.
“I have a great deal of respect and belief in the Second Amendment,” Gov Malloy said.
“We have a fundamental right to bear arms in this country. But with every right comes a responsibility. This proposal endorses reasonable measures to improve public safety, while preserving citizens’ constitutional rights,” he said.
“While the tragedy at Sandy Hook provided a devastating reminder of the need for more sensible policy, the problem of gun violence is not confined to one community,” according to Gov Malloy.