Cities and towns to seek sweeping gun reforms
Connecticut will have the toughest gun laws in the country if the Legislature adopts a proposal unveiled Wednesday by an organization representing the overwhelming majority of the state's towns and cities.
The proposal from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities would set up a Gun Offender Registry for any individuals convicted of a gun crime, require a permit to purchase either ammunition or a rifle, mandate the registration of all firearms and impose rules that would bar residents with a history of mental illness from obtaining a gun permit.
The plan also would limit firearm magazine capacity, prohibit the purchase of more than one firearm in a 30-day period and outlaw the possession of body armor by all but law enforcement and military personnel.
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"We will be releasing tomorrow one of the most comprehensive list of initiatives seen so far in Connecticut," CCM President James Finley Jr. said Tuesday.
Separately, legislative leaders Tuesday gave a new task force a late-February deadline for recommendations strengthening gun control, improving school safety and addressing mental health issues exposed by the Newtown school massacre.
During a news conference Tuesday in the Capitol complex, Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate announced the task force and said that the eventual legislation will also consider the findings of a similar panel named by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that has a mid-March deadline.
The 13-point CCM proposal, obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers on Tuesday, is to be unveiled at a news conference Wednesday. The group represents 151 out of 169 municipalities in Connecticut and advocates on their behalf with state and federal officials.
The organization's legislative committee overwhelming endorsed the proposal during a meeting Tuesday that was attended by more than 40 mayors and first selectmen from throughout Connecticut.
Among the recommendations are an outright ban on assault rifles -- using California's strict definition of the weapons -- and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
"These weapons serve no purpose except to take human lives," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who attended the meeting Tuesday and voted on the proposal. "We've seen the carnage they create in Aurora and in Newtown. We need to take action now. We can't wait for the next time."
Adam Lanza, a mentally troubled 20-year-old, shot his mother to death on the morning of Dec. 14, took her legally acquired weapons to Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, blasted his way through the front door and murdered 20 first graders and six adults with an assault-style weapon.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said the gun-reform package was "one of the most hotly debated" issues before CCM's legislative committee in a long time. While some members felt the proposals may be "overreaching," most believed something needed to be done, he said.
"Some of these concepts may prove unworkable as it goes through the legislative process, but we certainly need to update our gun laws," Boughton said.
Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, who is also a member of the committee, said only about four or five members voted against the proposed set of recommendations.
One of the more controversial proposals, he said, is an attempt to circumvent federal commerce law, which restricts prohibitions on Internet sales, by making it illegal in Connecticut to "use the rights-ofway (public roads) for the transportation of ammunition." Knickerbocker said that while some committee members admitted the proposal could potentially be thrown out by a court if adopted into law, other members noted that "there has to be a way to stop people from buying 10,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet." Malloy said he expects a concluding report on the massacre by mid-March "at the latest" and that it may become as important a historical document as the report following the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr. in 1932.
He says he has broken off regular briefings from State Police because he's worried about possibly tainting the investigation.