At noon on Thursday Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy (shown in photo signing bill) signed into law a wide-ranging bill in response to last year’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. After weeks of closed-door negotiations between Republican and Democrat leaders and another 13 hours of debate on Wednesday, the 139-page bill was passed by the House, 105-44. It had previously passed the Senate, 26-10.
The new law enhances Connecticut’s already highly restrictive ban on so-called assault weapons by expanding their definition so that it now includes 100 more. It plows new ground by requiring that buyers of ammunition must undergo background checks in order to receive from the state an “eligibility certificate,” and it creates a state “dangerous weapon offender registry” for all present gun owners. In addition, beginning immediately, the new law requires background checks for all private sales and purchases of firearms in the state. The sale of magazines holding more than 15 rounds is banned, while present owners of such magazines would have to register them with the state before the end of the year.
The bill also creates a commission to study mental health issues related to violent crime, thus setting the stage for further legislation. And penalties for illegal gun trafficking — smuggling — are expanded as well.
Supporters of the bill expressed relief that the negotiations and debates were over, and that the legislature had finally done something to keep Newtown from happening again. House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said:
I pray [that] today’s bill — the most far-reaching gun safety legislation in the country — will prevent other families from ever experiencing the dreadful loss that the 26 Sandy Hook families have felt.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney added, "I've been working … to see what we can do … to make Connecticut safer. I’m proud that we've done that."
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Photo of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signing new gun control legislation into law in Hartford, Conn.: AP Images