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Bipartisan agreement on gun control possible, Connecticut lawmakers say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 2nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Connecticut lawmakers, in reaction to the tragedy of the school shooting in Newtown last December are sending a message that they hope will ring loud and clear in Washington. They say that a bipartisan agreement on gun control is possible. After weeks of bipartisan, closed-door negotiations, a vote is expected this week in the General Assembly, where Democrats control both chambers, making passage highly likely.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Democrats and Republicans were able to come to an agreement on a strong, comprehensive bill," Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. (D-Brooklyn). Williams called the proposed legislation the strongest, most comprehensive bill in the country.

"That is a message that should resound in 49 other states and in Washington, D.C. And the message is: We can get it done here and they should get it done in their respective states and nationally in Congress."

The school massacre had reignited gun debate across the country and led to calls for increased gun control legislation on the federal and state levels.

Other states, such as neighboring New York have strengthened their gun laws. Momentum on national gun control has stalled in Congress, whose members were urged by President Barack Obama not to forget the shooting and to capitalize on the best chance in years to stem gun violence.

The Connecticut deal includes a ban on new high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six educators dead.

In addition, there are also new registration requirements for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets. This legislation is a disappointment for some family members of Newtown victims who wanted an outright ban on the possession of all high-capacity magazines. Many parents and survivors have traveled to the state Capitol to make their request to lawmakers.

The new legislation also creates a new "ammunition eligibility certificate," which imposes immediate universal background checks for all firearms sales, and extends the state's assault weapons ban to 100 new types of firearms. The proposal requires that a weapon have only one of several features to be banned.

Acknowledging that the weapons are already in possession by many in the state, the freshly banned weapons could no longer be bought or sold in Connecticut. Those legally owned already would have to be registered with the state, just like the high-capacity magazines.

"At the end of the day, I think it's a package that the majority of the people of Connecticut I know will be proud of," Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Fairfield Republican whose district includes Newtown says.

The bill also addresses mental health and school security measures, including gun restrictions for people who've been committed to mental health facilities and restoration of a state grant for school safety improvements.

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