NORWALK, Conn. – Connecticut lawmakers took appropriate steps after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown two years ago, state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk/Darien) said as the two-year anniversary of the tragedy nears.
In response to the shooting deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012, the state legislature passed new laws in April 2013 requiring background checks on all firearms sales and restricting the sale of high-capacity magazines like those used in the shooting.
Duff, who served in the state Senate at the time and recently was named Senate Majority Leader, said the new laws were an appropriate reaction to the tragedy.
“One of the best things about our reaction is that we were able to produce a bipartisan piece of legislation,” Duff said of the new laws. “Because of the bipartisan support, we created a better product that the residents of the state of Connecticut can be proud of.”
Although some say the new laws' provisions are harsh and hurt Second Amendment rights, Duff said the majority of constituents he has spoken to approve of the legislature’s actions.
“Not everyone will agree with all of the things in the bills, but that’s part of the give and take of the legislative process,” he said.
Duff also said he rejects the notion that the new laws were an emotional reaction to the horrific event. He said that unlike in New York, which passed new gun laws in January 2013, Connecticut legislators took more time and thoroughly discussed the provisions of the bills among each other and with the public before voting.
“It was a justified and appropriate reaction to the horrible, grim events of that terrible day,” he said.
The effects of the new laws cannot yet be determined because it’s only been a year-and-a-half since they passed, Duff said.
“It’s one of those laws that, in the short term, I don’t know if you can absolutely measure its success or failure. I think we have to wait and see what the long-term effects are,” Duff said. He feels the new laws will be successful in preventing gun violence in the state.
Connecticut also has been effective in securing funding for school security measures and making sure children are safe, Duff said. Last week, the state announced it had received two federal school safety grants.
Schools also have enacted low-cost measures, such as training teachers and students and conducting drills to make sure they are prepared in the event of an emergency, Duff said. He said it’s important to make sure schools are safe, while not turning them into fortresses that impede learning.
Although the state may continue to tweak laws to address mental health issues, Duff said he doesn’t know of any plans to pass further gun legislation in the next legislative session. He said most legislators still favor the steps the state has taken, and he doesn’t think a vote to repeal any of the laws will come up.
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