New Connecticut Gun Laws: In Depth, In Context - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
New Connecticut Gun Laws: In Depth, In Context

As reported by the AP, early this afternoon Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed into a law “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” The official bill analysis is 49 pages long (compared to the 138 for the bill itself, PDF here), but I have tried to break down the major points:

  • Universal background checks now cover firearm sales by dealers and non-dealers alike, along with ammunition. It appears previously extant handgun sale regulations now apply to long guns.

  • Assault weapons are banned under the new law, defined as a semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifle or pistol with at least two of five specific features. (Interestingly, this is less stringent than the one-feature standard of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s [D-CA] proposed ban.) The AR-15 and other models are also named and outlawed. Legally possessed assault weapons are grandfathered in, so long as their owners apply to register them before January 1, 2014.

  • Armor piercing ammunition is banned and specifically defined, with exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel, as well as a couple of cases related to estate law.

  • Magazines are limited to ten rounds with a few specific exceptions. The exclusion of tubular devices attached to lever-action firearms caught my eye. Old magazines over the limit are grandfathered in, so long as their owners apply to register them before January 1, 2014.

  • Mental health is addressed through various training mandates, new community programs, changes to how the legal system handles mental health cases, and informational resources for physicians. It is also linked to eligibility for gun credentials. CNN noted changes to state health insurance plans.

  • A Deadly Weapon Offender Registry is established for those convicted on deadly weapon offense or acquitted by reason of mental fitness, and accessible only to law enforcement officials. Reports on the new laws have singled out this provision as a notable first.

  • School Safety is addressed by the creation of a dedicated infrastructure council, new grants, standards, and related committees to develop further policies to increase student security.

  • Exceptions and qualifications exist for the various provisions, like the armor-piercing ammunition ban, but they are esoteric and vary widely. Many apply to law enforcement and military personnel.

There are other provisions and details that cannot be covered in a suitably concise manner, e.g. an expansion of the authority to confiscate weapons during a domestic abuse investigation to include ammunition. If you really want to understand and learn more about the new laws, I recommend setting aside some time to read the summary for yourself. For the record, the bill was amended in the State Senate, but the official summary should still be applicable, and lines up with the reports I have seen about the new laws.

As a bonus, Maryland’s State Senate — unsurprisingly dominated by Democrats — will be taking up its own gun control proposal this afternoon. Theoretically it could pass before sundown, but the State House debate lasted some 22 hours, compared to 13-plus hours of Connecticut House and Senate debate over their measure.

As a postscript, the Wall Street Journal notes in a widely circulated article that more states have actually relaxed gun laws since Sandy Hook than tightened them (with quite a bit of overlap in three states). Granted, most of the relaxations have been modest compared to the sweeping expansions in New York or Connecticut, but the article also points to a shift in national sentiment:

A CBS News poll taken in late March showed 47% of Americans supported stricter gun-control laws, down from a peak of 57% just after December’s Newtown shooting.

On the other other hand, background checks on gun show sales enjoy 90% support among registered voters according to a March 26 Washington Post-ABC News poll. Many reports on that poll implied an endorsement of universal background checks, but the truth is more complicated. It also varies wildly on a state-by-state basis. These are points both sides, and interested observers generally, should keep in mind.

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