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Smart Gun Laws Save Lives

 

In the aftermath of last weekend’s mass shooting in Gilroy, CA by a teen who legally purchased an assault rifle in Nevada, it’s clear that people living in states with strong gun laws are at the mercy of weak gun laws in other states and at the federal level. While that’s true, strong state-level gun laws do save lives.

Connecticut is consistently ranked as having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation (now #3, we’ve been in the top 5 since 2010); that’s what helps us have one of the lowest rates of gun deaths (5th lowest in the country.)

Among the 10 top states with the strongest gun laws, seven also have the lowest rates of gun deaths. Conversely, the 10 states with the highest gun death rates are all graded “F” by the Giffords Law Center on the strength of their gun laws.

These are some of the key gun regulations in Connecticut and how they help to protect us against gun violence:

Permits are required to buy firearms; they require fingerprinting, a criminal background check and an approved firearm safety class. A study found that gun homicides in Connecticut dropped 40% in the 10 years following implementation of permit-to-purchase (but no reduction in homicide by other means).

Background checks are required for all firearm purchases, including private sales. Since taking effect nationally in 1994, criminal background checks have stopped more than 3 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers including felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals. In states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.

Firearms must be securely stored at home and in unattended vehicles. Keeping guns out of the hands of unauthorized users prevents unintentional shootings, teen suicide, gun theft and school shootings. Over 80% of child firearm suicides and 75% of school shootings use a gun belonging to a family member.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders allow firearms to be removed when there is an imminent risk of harm to the gun owner or others. Connecticut was the first state to implement ERPO and it has been credited with reducing suicide, one for every 10 to 20 ERPO warrants issued.

Permits are required to carry handguns in public; these permits allow gun owners to carry the gun openly or concealed. Connecticut is one of only eight “may issue” states where local law enforcement has the discretion to deny permits to carry in public. States that loosened restrictions on concealed carry permits, so-called “right to carry” states, saw violent crime rates increase. According to one study, RTC laws were associated with a 10% higher murder rate 10 years following the adoption of RTC laws.

The sale of assault weapons, large capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds), bump stocks and “ghost” guns are all banned in Connecticut. Mass shootings using LCMs result in twice as many fatalities and 14 times as many injuries compared to those without. In 2019 a Bridgeport man was sentenced to federal prison for selling untraceable machine guns assembled at home; some were sold to convicted felons.

Lost or stolen guns must be reported within 72 hours to local law enforcement. Reporting cuts down on gun owners who sell guns illegally, and later claim they were lost or stolen when recovered at crime scenes and traced back to them.

These are just some of the gun safety measures in place to protect our communities from gun violence, most of which CT Against Gun Violence has led the way on passing since its founding in 1993. You can find a comprehensive list of Connecticut firearm regulations here.

CT Against Gun Violence applauds state Senate lawmakers who joined their House counterparts in passing three gun safety bills on a bi-partisan basis. This marks the first time in history that the legislature has passed three separate bills in the same legislative session. CAGV commends the efforts of the Senators who championed the bill, including Senate President Martin Looney, Majority Leader Bob Duff, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and Senate Judiciary Chair Gary Winfield. 

Jeremy Stein, Executive Director of CT Against Gun Violence said, “The large and bi-partisan majorities that voted for stronger safe storage requirements and to ban ghost guns is a victory for the people of Connecticut.” Stein noted, “The historic action of passing three important bills in one session reflects that voters in Connecticut want legislators to pass tough, but common-sense, measures to keep Connecticut safe from gun violence.” He continued, “Legislators took decisive action because they know these measures will prevent gun deaths from unintentional shootings, criminal activity, mass shootings and suicide by keeping guns out of the hands of unauthorized users.” Governor Lamont is on record supporting all three bills.

With record-setting bi-partisan and virtually unanimous support “Ethan’s Law” passed 34-2. HB-7218 requires all firearms, loaded or unloaded, to be securely stored when minors under age 18 are in the home. Under current law, only loaded firearms need to be secured, and only if children in the home are below age 16. The Senate also passed HB-7223 with bi-partisan support, 20-15. The bill prohibits unsecured handguns from being left in unattended vehicles. With this measure, Connecticut will become one of fewer than 10 states to require firearms in unattended vehicles to be secured in some manner.

Also with bi-partisan support HB-7219, the bill to ban ghost guns, passed xx-xx. Proponents of the bill noted the growing problem of ghost guns in Connecticut, calling attention to the multiple arrests that have been made and guilty pleas secured in Connecticut over the past year for individuals selling assault weapons assembled at home, including to convicted felons.

Melissa Kane, President of CT Against Gun Violence said, “We are proud that Connecticut continues to serve as a model for how lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation, can work together to protect their constituents from gun violence.”  Passing the three bills is a reflection of CAGV’s relationships and ongoing dialogue with legislators from both parties, and the organization’s ability to mobilize its supporters as well as those from other gun violence prevention organizations such as Moms Demand Action, Mothers United Against Violence and Newtown Action Alliance. Remarked Terra Volpe, Outreach Director for CAGV, “The collaboration among all the Connecticut-based gun violence prevention organizations was tremendous. For the past two weeks dozens of advocates have worked side-by-side in the Capitol to send a unified message to legislators: keep our citizens safe from gun violence; pass these common-sense gun laws.”

We’re thrilled to report that tonight the Connecticut House of Representatives passed two of our three priority gun bills, reflecting broad constituent support for tough, but common-sense, measures to keep us safe from gun violence. We expect the third bill to get a vote on Wednesday. 

With record-setting bi-partisan support “Ethan’s Law” passed 127-16. HB-7218 requires all firearms, loaded or unloaded, to be securely stored when minors under age 18 are in the home. We are enormously grateful to Kristin and Mike Song for their tireless advocacy for the bill.

Also on a strong bi-partisan vote HB-7219, the bill to ban ghost guns, passed 108-36. 

In a move that may signal a new dynamic in the legislature, those who opposed the bills kept their rhetoric to a minimum. That allowed both bills to be debated and voted on in less than two hours—a marked change from past years. 

What’s next? On Wednesday, May 8, we’re expecting a vote in the House on HB-7223, to prohibit the unsecured storage of handguns in unattended vehicles. Immediately after we’ll turn our attention to getting all three bills called in the Senate.