Dec 8, 2013
05:52 AM
The Connecticut Story

A Year After Newtown Shooting, Gun Laws Changed but Legal Battle to Go On

A Year After Newtown Shooting, Gun Laws Changed but Legal Battle to Go On

An image of the Bushmaster rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, from the state’s attorney’s report on the Newtown incident.

The protesters are gone, as are the long lines at gun shops, with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters gingerly settling in to live with the major changes adopted in Connecticut around firearms regulations as they wait for the legal challenges to advance.

After the murder of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year, state lawmakers spent months crafting revisions in the law that added at least 100 more weapons to the banned assault weapon list and increased the permitting needed to legally own and operate firearms in Connecticut.

The Dec. 14, 2012, slayings at Sandy Hook were committed by Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man fascinated by mass killings who became increasingly isolated in the months leading up to the murders.

He carried out a morning of violence with weapons owned by his mother, Nancy Lanza, including the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle used at the school where he unleashed 154 rounds in less than five minutes before shooting himself with her Glock 20 semiautomatic handgun. Prior to driving to Sandy Hook, Lanza killed his mother in her bed with a Savage Mark II, .22-caliber rifle.

Lanza had access to multiple weapons in the house, and he was trained to use them. He apparently was never treated for the mental illness the state police investigation concluded he was “undoubtedly afflicted with.”

The many features of the gun-control law started going into effect April 4, including the ban on assault weapons. Gun-rights supporters refer to them as sporting rifles and say the law is misdirected against law-abiding citizens, while reform advocates say there is no purpose for these weapons other than to kill many people quickly.

There was intense lobbying to ban the high-capacity magazines used by Lanza, but the compromise agreed upon limits them to 10 bullets, down from 30. That measure also immediately went into effect.

The mass killings at the school failed to convince Congress to strengthen federal background checks and both sides are concentrating their next move on ousting lawmakers with whom they disagree.

Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criminal justice adviser, is pleased with the way Connecticut’s law has been implemented.

“I think it has gone smoothly, as far as I can tell,” Lawlor said.

There were complaints in the beginning about the changes, particularly by gun shop owners who were confused as to what they could sell as state police worked on the regulations and forms necessary to apply for the various new permits. Lawlor said the state came through with the funds and personnel to put the new measures into effect.

It is difficult to ascertain how many additional assault rifles flew off the shelves as gun shops saw inventory wiped out when consumers bought them before the ban went into effect April 4.

Lawlor said state police recorded 48,000 long guns sold in all of 2012, while 50,000 were sold in the state this year. This figure, however, covers rifles and shotguns in addition to weapons that meet the expanded definition of assault rifles.

Police reported that 20,000 gun permits have been issued since April, added to the total 200,000 in effect in Connecticut.

Next up for gun owners is a requirement that all those assault weapons legally acquired before April 4 and large-capacity magazines have to be registered with the state by Jan. 1, 2014.

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, estimates there could be as many as 20,000 such weapons.

By Dec. 3, the state had received 6,315 applications for assault weapon certificates and 4,643 for magazines as the numbers grew by 50 percent from mid-November.

See the full story at the New Haven Register online, along with other related stories.


A Year After Newtown Shooting, Gun Laws Changed but Legal Battle to Go On

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