Governor signs Connecticut gun control law

April 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM
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HARTFORD, Conn., April 4 (UPI) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law Thursday a sweeping new gun control measure in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The comprehensive legislative package on gun violence prevention, mental health and school safety was approved early Thursday by the Connecticut House. The 105-44 vote came hours after the Senate approved the bill and 111 days after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Newtown, where 20 children and six educators were killed by a 20-year-old who fired 154 shots in 4 minutes with a semiautomatic rifle.

"We can never undo the senseless tragedy that took place on Dec. 14," said Malloy, a Democrat, prior to signing the bill Thursday. "But we can take action here in Connecticut and we can make Connecticut towns and cities safer and this bill does that."

The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan 26-10 vote Wednesday evening following a 6-hour debate, The Hartford Courant reported.

Two of the body's 22 Democrats and eight of 14 Republicans voted against the measure.

The tough legislation adds more than 100 firearms to the state's assault-weapons ban, including the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle used by Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza.

It also requires universal background checks for purchasers of all firearms and prohibits the sale and purchase of large-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets, or rounds, such as the 30-round magazines Lanza used.

In a compromise, owners of those large-capacity magazines are not be required to turn them in, but they are restricted in where they use them and must register them with the state by Jan. 1.

"It's a mental health issue, not a firearms issue," Jake McGuigan, government relations director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, was quoted by The New York Times as saying.

"Nothing in this legislation would have stopped what happened in this horrible tragedy in Sandy Hook," McGuigan said.

The Courant said hundreds of people flocked to gun stores Wednesday to buy semiautomatic weapons or 30-round magazines. Customers said they're afraid the Connecticut law will lead to even further limits on gun ownership.

The Connecticut votes came hours after Maryland's lower House of Delegates passed what is expected to be another strict gun-control measure.

The 78-61 vote Wednesday requires fingerprinting of gun buyers, new limits on firearm purchases by the mentally ill and bans on assault weapons and on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

Maryland's is the only package forcing gun buyers to provide fingerprints and undergo classroom training, target practice and background checks before getting a license to buy a firearm.

The bill returns to the state Senate, which passed a similar bill last month.

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