Connecticut’s most comprehensive gun control bill since the 2013 law established in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting goes into effect Sunday, with supporters vowing to pursue additional gun legislation.
The new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in June, forbids open carrying of firearms and the sale of more than three handguns to any one person within 30 days, with certain exceptions for instructors and others.
“We will not take a break and we cannot stop now, and we will continue to pass life-saving laws until we end gun violence in Connecticut. Our lives depend on it,” said Jeremy Stein, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.
The statute was challenged in court immediately after it was passed by proponents of gun rights. Connecticut’s landmark 2013 gun ban, enacted in reaction to the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, is also being challenged in court.
Aside from Connecticut, which has some of the strongest gun prohibitions in the country, other politically liberal states such as California, Washington, Colorado, and Maryland passed gun laws this year that are being challenged in court. They followed the expansion of gun rights by the United States Supreme Court last year.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed almost two dozen gun control legislation this week, including rules prohibiting the carrying of handguns in most public areas and raising taxes on guns and ammunition sold in the state.
He admitted that some might not withstand a court challenge. A federal judge this week overturned a California rule prohibiting weapons with detachable magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.
“We feel very strongly that these bills meet the (new standard), and they were drafted accordingly,” Newsom said. “But I’m not naive about the recklessness of the federal courts and the ideological agenda.”
Despite the rain and cold, some 150 gun rights supporters rallied outside the state Capitol on Saturday to mark the last day that carrying a visible firearm was lawful in Connecticut. They are optimistic that the rule will be overturned in court, contending that it is an infringement on Second Amendment rights and unnecessary.
“It is not common in Connecticut to go the grocery store and see somebody with an exposed firearm. Does it happen on rare occasions? Sure, but it is not a problem in our state,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, told the Waterbury Republican-American.
She stated that there are currently state regulations in place that address people carrying a weapon in public or misusing the open carry statute.
The new law also raises bail and toughens probation and parole for a “narrow group” of people who have committed multiple serious gun offenses; expands the state’s current assault weapons ban; stiffens penalties for possessing large-capacity magazines; broadens safe-storage rules to include more settings; and adds some domestic violence crimes to the list of disqualifications for possessing a gun.
Republicans accused Democrats of bragging about how safe Connecticut is due of gun legislation despite the fact that there have been carjackings, significant property crimes, and other acts of violence.
Claims that Connecticut is one of the safest states, according to House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, a Republican from North Branford, are a “slap in the face” to citizens.
“Enough with the news conferences — Democrats should step away from the lectern and tap into what’s happening in their districts,” he said in a statement.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, a Democrat from New Haven, called the legislation a “very significant initiative” but stressed that “the battle is not over.”
Connecticut is vulnerable to states with laxer gun regulations, according to Looney. He wants to impose additional monthly gun purchase limits and mandate microlabeling or ammo microstamping to assist law enforcement in tracing bullet casings to specific firearms makes and types.
Lamont, who proposed the newly enacted law, said he is interested in working with fellow governors in the Northeast to draft similar laws, given how the technology is changing so fast and Connecticut “can only do so much within our small state and within our borders.”