Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Connecticut's sweeping new gun law, and people on both sides of the controversial issue are planning to acknowledge it.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and gun violence prevention groups gathered Thursday to commemorate the passage of what they called the "historic legislation" — SB1160.
Malloy signed the law on April 4, 2013, less than four months after the tragic event that served as the genesis for it — the shooting at Sandy Hook School that claimed the life of 20 children and six educators.
“In the wake of one of the worst tragedies to befall our state, we took clear and decisive action to make all residents in every one of our cities and towns safer,” Malloy said Thursday. “The common sense limitations we put in place will make sure that guns are less likely to fall into the hands of someone who shouldn’t have one."
SB1160 made numerous changes in the laws governing firearms, mental health, and school security, but it has been most widely debated for its perceived impacts on gun owners and the gun industry.
It has been challenged in the courts, too. In January, a federal court judge dismissed a claim that a provision of the law — banning assault weapons — violates rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.
Among the many provisions in the bill — which is considered among the toughest in the nation — the law bans the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, requires a clean record, safety training and a permit to buy rifles, shotguns and ammunition, whether it is from a gun store or private sale. The state now requires background checks and training for the purchase of all categories of guns. And, convicted felons caught with ammunition now face the same penalty as they would if they got caught with a firearm.
In his remarks Thursday, Malloy called on Congress to pass "common sense gun reform" at the federal level — something it failed to do last year despite pressure from President Barack Obama.
“The fact remains that, while our laws are strong, as long as Congress fails to act, our residents are not as safe as they could be,” Malloy said. “Congress needs to act on common sense gun reform, and they need to do it today.”
Other legislators reiterated that message.
“We proved to the country last year in an historic vote that effective, common sense gun safety laws can be passed in a bipartisan manner,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). “We are already beginning to see the positive impact this legislation is having, including keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Ultimately, to truly reduce gun violence in this country we need Congress to act, and I encourage them to use our legislation as a model.”
Pro Gun Rights Rally at the Capitol
Gun rights proponents are planning to mark the one-year anniversary of Connecticut's gun law, too.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League has planned a rally for Saturday, April 5, at the capitol building in Hartford. The rally will take place from noon to 3 p.m. and will feature guest speaker David Codrea, a national gun rights defender and journalist.
"Please bring your family and friends to Stand and Fight with the NRA and respectfully voice your opposition to the new aggressive and sweeping gun laws that are severely inhibiting your right to keep and bear arms and your inherent right to self-defense in the Constitution State," writes "Bethel Patcher" in an announcement on Newtown Patch.
Statistics on Connecticut's Gun Law
In addition to his statement, the Governor's Office released statistics that have been compiled as different components of the gun law were implemented.
- To date, 50,242 assault certifications have been received and 38,209 gun owners filed declarations listing the number and type of large capacity magazines they owned. Some declarations contained hundreds of individual magazines.
- The state has also issued 2,592 ammunition certificates and received 61 eligibility certificates for long guns.
- 1,747 pistol permits were revoked for reasons including drunk driving, mental health commitments, restraining and protective orders in domestic violence cases.
- 210 people tried to buy rifles and shotguns and were denied when background checks turned up felony convictions, undocumented alien status and domestic violence charges.
According to a release from Malloy's office, he was joined Thursday by Greater Danbury Brady Campaign, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, The Enough Campaign, Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence, League of Women Voters, March for Change, Moms Demand Action, Mothers United Against Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Peace in Connecticut, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Sandy Hook Ride, Trinity Episcopal Church, The Unitarian Church of Westport, United Action of Connecticut, United Physicians of Newtown, Women on Watch and YANA (You Are Not Alone).