2013 In Review: Connecticut Enacts Historic Gun Control Laws

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In April, Gov. Dannel Malloy signs into law a comprehensive legislative package on gun violence, mental health and school safety reforms. He was joined by family members of victims, anti-violence advocates and state officials. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- In the aftermath of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Connecticut approved some of the strictest gun laws in the nation in 2013, banning dozens of rifles and pistols that were once legal in Fairfield County and across the state. 

The efforts to tighten gun laws began at the start of the legislative session last winter, with Gov. Dannel Malloy calling for reform in his State of the State address in February. 

Kara Nelson Baekey, a Norwalk mother of two, launched a Fairfield County chapter of One Million Moms For Gun Control to fight for the cause. On Valentine's Day, hundreds of residents, many of them mothers and members of that group, joined a rally at the State Capitol in Hartford to call for changes in the state's gun laws.  

Connecticut and Fairfield County remained a rallying point on the issue, with Vice President Joe Biden appearing as the keynote speaker at a gun violence conference at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury later that month. 

"We have to speak for those 20 beautiful children who died 69 days ago, 12 miles from here," Biden told the crowd, which included Malloy, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty. 

After weeks of debate, the Connecticut House and Senate approved a bill on April 4 to make the state's gun laws the strictest in the nation: 

“What happened at Sandy Hook was a horror. Yet sadly this kind of mass shooting is not unprecedented. A common thread through many of these tragedies has been the prevalence of assault weapons, designed for use in war," state Sen. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) said in a statement. "I hope that our bipartisan approach on this bill sends a message to the rest of the country that in the face of tragedy, when it really counts, reasonable people of different opinions can find a common sense way forward.”

That afternoon,  Malloy signed the newly passed bill into law.

As soon as Malloy signed the legislation, a long list of firearms immediately became illegal. Large capacity ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets were also immediately banned, making them now illegal to sell or purchase.

“We can never undo the senseless tragedy that took place on Dec. 14 or those tragedies that play themselves out on a daily basis in our cities, but we can take action here in Connecticut and make our towns and cities safer, and this bill does that,” Malloy said at the bill-signing ceremony in Hartford. “Through our efforts today, we honor those we lost and those we have worked to help to mend in the grieving process.”

Residents who already own large-capacity magazine clips or firearms now considered assault weapons will not be required to relinquish these items. Instead, they will be required to register these items with the state by Jan. 1. The state reminded residents near the end of December to complete this paperwork. 

This registry, to be maintained by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, will include people who have been convicted of an offense committed with a deadly weapon or those found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in such cases.

The law also requires universal background checks on buyers for all firearm purchases.

As of July 1, certificates of eligibility were required to buy ammunition. To receive a certificate, residents must pass a federal background check. Certificates are also required to purchase shotguns and rifles.

The law also broadens the mental health provisions that disqualify a person for a gun permit or handgun eligibility certificate.

Congress failed in repeated attempts to tighten federal laws on gun ownership. But on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings earlier this month, U.S. Rep.. Jim Himes (D-4th District) reaffirmed his commitment to passing strict federal gun laws. 

“My heart remains broken for the 20 children and six adults whose lives were tragically cut short one year ago. In the year since Newtown, an additional 30,000 Americans have lost their lives to guns," Himes said in a statement. "Though there is no peace for the families of those we have lost, I remain committed to improving our gun laws and our mental health system to reduce the violence and mayhem.

"We must do everything in our power to prevent the next Newtown, Aurora, or Columbine from happening and to stop the epidemic of violence in some of our cities. While I am frustrated and disappointed by Congress’ failure to lead on this issue, I am no less resolved.”

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Comments (12)

john.real.965:

Indeed, the laws are "historic", as in "historically stupid".

Alethiologist:

Here is an interesting article pointing out the decline in police killed by firearms...perps are finally getting use to the idea they will get shot if they go after a cop...they will get the same treatment if they go after concealed carry permit holders/would be victims. So the question is, why are unarmed citizens targeted more frequently by criminals than police? If so, why can't innocent citizens arm themselves to provide the same deterrent?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West, according to a report released Monday.

The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959.

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.

Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.

The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887.

The report credits an increased culture of safety among law-enforcement agencies, including increased use of bulletproof vests, that followed a spike in law-enforcement deaths in 2011.

Since 2011, officer fatalities across all categories have decreased by 34 percent, and firearms deaths have dropped by 54 percent.

Fourteen officers died from heart attacks that occurred while performing their duties.

The report found that Texas and California had the highest number of fatalities, with 13 and 10, respectively.

Robby.Rob:

Thank You Himes, Malloy, Murphy for this GREAT legislation

spencer60:

These laws aren't 'historic' in any way shape or form.

They penalize law abiding firearms owners without any improvement in public safety.

It's unfortunate that the media feels the need to applaud these pointless and repressive bills as positive action.

john.real.965:

CT has become a laughingstock for the rest of the country.

M3-Driver:

More "feel good" laws that will prevent nothing. But Danny had to do something, as the tragedy was in his back yard.

Guns are not the issue, mental health is. As we witness every day, there are some really crazy people out there.

Mary Jane Nelson:

So you consider saving lives feel good laws...AMAZING

just_looking:

Every shooting involved a teen or young adult that was on prescription antidepressant medication at the time or in the past. Therefore it is the antidepressant drugs that should be outlawed and not guns.

Greenbeanie:

Write down a list: Himes, Malloy, Murphy, and the rest of them who pushed these laws to deprive you of your right to defend yourself against violent criminals, with weapons you deem necessary. Put the list on your refrigerator, and vote for and support people who run against them the next time they run for office. Defeat them and take your rights back. Enough of Newtown. Remember the horrible deaths of the helpless family in Cheshire who could have been saved with one of the weapons these political hacks are trying to take away from you. Vote and write checks to rid yourself of them.

Alethiologist:

These new laws would do nothing to prevent another tragedy. These laws were passed bypassing legal procedure. These laws enact a penalty on law abiding citizens and reduce their ability to defend themselves from criminals.

Police cannot protect you until after a crime is committed. You must be a victim before they arrive. The more recent shooting in Colorado ended within seconds when the shooter realized an armed guard was on the way. The shooter killed himself immediately knowing he was no match for a trained professional.

Shame on all legislators who voted to strip citizens of their rights. You just handed criminals an enormous advantage just to pander to knee jerk sentiment. They will do or say anything just to satisfy uninformed voters. Just more proof that government is too big, too intrusive and too inept.

Norwalk Spectator:

Somebody got a "Word-a-day" calendar for Christmas! :-D

Seriously, thanks for the good points. Oh, yeah, and great posting name, too!

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