Legislative leaders reach agreement on gun violence prevention legislation
State legislative leaders announced at a press conference today, Monday, April 1, a deal on gun violence prevention legislation. Among the proposals, which will be voted on Wednesday, are required universal background checks for the sale of firearms, the expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban and bans on the sale or purchase of large capacity magazines.
This legislation was prompted by the Dec. 14, 2012 mass shooting in Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six educators were killed.
The proposed bill would establish “a first in the nation statewide dangerous weapon offender registry,” according to the release from the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. Under the bill, individuals must register with the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection if they have been convicted of any of more than 40 enumerated weapons offenses or any other felony the courts makes a finding on that involved the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon. The registry will not be public, but instead only available to law enforcement.
The proposal would close a loophole in the current law which does not require background checks on the private sales of rifles and shotguns. Immediately on the passage of this proposal, no pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun could be sold to any state resident until the buyer undergoes and passes a national criminal background check, whether the sale is private, at a gun show or through a dealer.
The ban on assault weapons would extend to 100 new types of firearms — 66 are now specified. The ban on the new firearms would be immediate if the proposal is passed.
The ban on large capacity magazines would apply to those that can hold more than 10 rounds and it applies to the sale, purchase or importation of these magazines.
Large capacity magazines that are currently possessed would have to be registered with the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection by Jan. 1, 2014 to remain legal and would be subject “to extremely strict usage limitations.”
The bill would require new state-issued eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition and expands the scope of the state’s firearms safe-storage laws.
It addition, it would “significantly” increase penalties for many firearms trafficking and illegal possession offenses. It would expand the membership of the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners to include a mental health professional and a retired Superior Court judge, and expand due process for local authorities in front of the board.
Among other things, the bill would address the ownership of guns by those who were voluntarily committed to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities; current law only addresses involuntary committals.
The bill would raise the age limit for the purchase of centerfire semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and would ban the sale of amor-piercing ammunition, making it a Class D felony to carry a firearm loaded with such ammunition.
The bill also addresses mental health and school security issues. More details will be included in another Bulletin story.