Still stinging from the deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut lawmakers have approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
The assembly’s senate voted 26 to 10 in favour of the law, which was drafted after bipartisan debate, the majority Democrats announced.
If made law, as expected, the legislation would be a boost for the country’s beleaguered proponents of stricter gun controls.
Under the law, more than 100 makes of rifles — including the Bushmaster used by deranged loner Adam Lanza in his December 14 mass killing in Newtown — are added to an existing, but now vastly expanded ban on assault weapons.
In addition, ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds must now be registered, while new sales of the large clips are banned.
The law, which raises the minimum age for purchasers from 18 to 21, tightens the procedure for background checks.
It also creates the first state registry in the United States of people convicted in gun-related crimes.
Connecticut becomes the third state, along with New York and Colorado, to vote in new rules following the Newtown killings. “No one is claiming that this bill will prevent all mass killings. But to say that we should do nothing? That is wrong,” said Democratic state Senator Donald Williams.
But some lawmakers said they felt the legislation did not do enough to address mental health issues. Mitch Bolinsky, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Newtown, acknowledged the legislation was not perfect and it hoped would be ‘a beginning in addressing critical mental health needs.
Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, said he felt the bill ‘doesn’t speak to the issue of gun violence that has permeated our cities’. He said families in his district who’ve lost children to gun violence have not received the same level of attention from state politicians as the Newtown families.