Connecticut legislature proposes sweeping gun laws

Lawmakers in Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place, on Monday announced a plan to pass what they describe as the toughest gun laws in the nation.  The Associated Press provides a concise summary of these laws, which will be accompanied by some measures directed at school security and mental health:

???Ban sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines;

???Background checks for private gun sales;

???New registry for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets;

???Statewide dangerous weapon offender registry, which lawmakers said is the nation???s first;

???Immediate universal background checks for all firearms sales;

???Expansion of Connecticut???s assault weapons ban;

???Safety training and other requirements to buy any rifle, shotgun or ammunition;

???Increases minimum age eligibility for purchase of some semi-automatic rifles to 21;

??? Expands requirements for safe storage of firearms;

??? Increases penalties for firearms trafficking and illegal possession offenses.

By “high capacity magazines” they mean magazines holding more than 10 rounds.  Some Newtown families reportedly wanted these magazines confiscated outright, but “weeks of bipartisan, closed-door negotiations” reached a deal that would allow the owners of existing magazines to keep them.  Sales of a hundred new types of “assault weapon” will also be banned, but existing owners will be allowed to keep their guns.

Part of the “compromise” reached in Connecticut involves requiring the registration of not only guns, but “high-capacity” magazines as well. And there will be a new “ammunition eligibility certificate,” the details of which are somewhat vague at the moment.  Reuters offers a bit more information:

The proposed legislation creates a state-issued eligibility certificate for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition. A buyer would need to be fingerprinted, take a firearms training course and undergo a background check to qualify.

[…] Jake McGuigan, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, said he wouldn’t comment on the proposal until he saw it in the writing, but he questioned the mechanics of a registry for magazines.

“How will they register a magazine? It seems a little weird,” he said.

Those on guard for “slippery slopes” should know that Connecticut gun control activists are openly promising one.  From another Associated Press report:

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said his group will live with the lawmakers’ decision not to ban them as other states have done. He said the leaders made their decision based on what was politically feasible.

“We have to be satisfied. There are still other things that we want, we’ll be back for in later sessions,” he said. “But for now, it’s a good thing.”

And Connecticut lawmakers want their laws to serve as a national model:

“In Connecticut, we’ve broken the mold,” [Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr.] said. “Democrats and Republicans were able to come to an agreement on a strong, comprehensive bill. That is a message that should resound in 49 other states and in Washington, D.C. And the message is: We can get it done here and they should get it done in their respective states and nationally in Congress.”

The mental-health provisions included in the legislation include a ban on gun permits or eligibility certificates of six months for people who voluntarily commit themselves to a hospital, and sixty months for those who are involuntarily committed.

The legislation is expected to pass a vote in the General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, on Wednesday.  Governor Dannel P. Malloy seems likely to sign it into law once it passes the legislature.