Thursday, February 21, 2013
Malloy Pushes for Tougher ‘Common Sense’ Gun Laws
Saying he applauds President Obama’s push for tighter gun controls, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told a conference attended by Vice President Biden at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury today that the state must strengthen its existing gun laws to include banning large capacity magazines, promoting safe gun storage, making background checks universal and expanding the state’s assault weapons ban.
Malloy made his remarks at the conclusion of the conference held in the ballroom at WCSU’s west side campus where U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Congressman Jim Himes and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were present, as well psychologists, educators and a parent of one of the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students murdered Dec. 14.
Along with guns the conference explored school safety programs, mental health to violent media.
“Two months ago, our state became the center of a national debate after a tragedy we never imagined could happen here,” Malloy said.
“The horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought home the fact that we are not immune to problems that face the nation at large, that we can never become complacent in our effort to ensure the safety of our residents.
“Since that day, all of us have experienced grief,” he added. “We have all mourned the loss of innocents. We have cried for the families and the survivors. And we have done so knowing that on some level, we will never be the same as we were before.”
Malloy said that today he sent a letter to Connecticut’s legislators, outlining “a plan for common sense gun violence prevention that I believe can serve as critical first steps in our efforts to make Connecticut safer.”
In the letter, he asked why the Bushmaster, the gun used at Sandy Hook, is not classified as an assault weapon under today’s law.
“I am proposing that we change the definition of assault weapon to any semiautomatic that has at least one military characteristic, and ban the sale of these weapons in our state,” he said.
Current law requires at least three characteristics to be classified as an assault rifle including a telescoping stock, pistol grip and a bayonet lug.
Malloy also questioned why background checks are not required to purchase firearms “when they buy it privately or at a gun show?”
Connecticut does require background checks at gun shows, but other states do not require them.
Malloy also said that magazine clips should be limited to 10 rounds, as opposed to 30 round clips. The 10-round clip is three more than New York States law that limits the number to seven.
“I believe we need to enhance and expand our system of background checks, so that whether you buy a gun from dealer, a private individual, or at a gun show – you must go through a background check before anyone hands you a firearm,” he said.
“We need to expand the permitting process to cover more guns and keep guns away from people who have been convicted of violent crimes or making violent threats. And we must track the sale of ammunition as well as firearms.”
The governor also stressed that gun owners “have a responsibility to store their weapons safely, and should be held accountable if a person is injured because of an improperly stored weapon.”
He added that gun dealers and those who work at gun ranges have the responsibility to report illegal activity, such as banned magazines if such legislation passes, to law enforcement.
Malloy said that he is also asking his Sandy Hook Advisory Commission and bipartisan task force to study mandatory reporting laws regarding behavioral and mental health, “and whether there are additional gun storage requirements that should be mandated by law.”
“These are tough questions, and I hope that my Commission and the General Assembly’s bipartisan task force will both consider those, and other important potential reforms,” he said.
“But I hope the steps I’m outlining today can frame the discussion about how we can start moving right now in a very real and fundamental way toward more meaningful gun violence prevention laws.
“Finally, let me be very clear; I have a great deal of respect and belief in the second amendment,” he added. “We have a fundamental right to bear arms in this country. But with every right comes a responsibility.
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport