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Connecticut Legislature Passes Strict New Gun Bill

Connecticut now has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation after state legislators passed a bill on Wednesday evening.
Connecticut now has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation after state legislators passed a bill on Wednesday evening. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Lawmakers in the Connecticut House and Senate approved some of the stiffest gun laws in the nation early Thursday in response to the deadly shootings of 26 students and staff members at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

Gov. Dannel Malloy will sign the bill into law Thursday at noon, his office said.

The state Senate passed the legislation, 26-10, with six Republicans joining the Democrats in voting in favor of the bill. Two Democrats voted against the bill, along with eight Republicans. The state House passed the legislation, 105-44, at around 2:30 a.m., Thursday.

The law would require background checks for all firearms purchases and require residents to get permits to buy rifles, shotguns and ammunition. The law would also ban the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

The law would establish a registry of all those who have been convicted of a weapons-related offense in Connecticut. This database would operate in a manner similar to the state’s sex offender registry, but it would not be public information and only law enforcement agencies would have access.

For school safety, the bill would set up a School Safety Infrastructure Council, which would establish new standards for school building designs for better physical security. It also would issue $15 million in bonds for a state grant program to reimburse districts seeking to improve security. It also would require all schools to have a security plan and that it be reviewed by state police.

On mental health issues, the bill would institute programs designed to make it easier for children with mental problems to get help. It would set up training programs to help educators better identify the warning signs of mental illness and would ask the Department of Education to consider making this program a requirement for teacher certification.

Republicans tried to modify the bill in both the Senate and the House, but all the measures failed to pass.

State Sens. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) and Bob Duff (D-Norwalk and Darien), who both voted in favor of the bill, praised the bill and said it was passed with bipartisan effort.

“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," Leone 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.”

Duff echoed the praise of the bipartisan approach.

"We heard from many, many people, then came together to craft a bill which addresses gun violence, mental health, and school security," Duff said in the statement. "I hope that around the nation and in Washington, D.C., others will take note of our bipartisan approach."

Here is a link to the General's Assembly's summary of the bill . Here is a link to the full bill.

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