Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signs new gun legislation into law
Politicians in Connecticut have passed new gun laws that are being described as the toughest in the United States.
Governor Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law today, several months after the mass shooting in Newtown which killed 20 children and six adults.
The legislation bans some weapons as well as the sale or purchase of high-capacity magazines like those used in the Newtown shooting. The bill also requires background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows.
The head of the state senate, Democrat Don Williams, said Connecticut should be an example for the rest of America.
"The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response, demands a response that transcends politics," he said.
"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."
State Senator John McKinney, a Republican who represents the district where the shooting took place, echoed that.
"The message we can send if those outside the walls of Connecticut are listening is encourage them to do the same, encourage our elected officials in Washington to put aside the politics and see if they can find some common ground," he said.
Democrat state senator Don Williams shakes hands with Republican state senator John McKinney in February
Under the Connecticut laws, more than 100 guns have been added to the state's list of banned assault weapons and armour-piercing bullets are banned.
The legislation doesn't ban high-capacity magazines outright, but it does limit the number of rounds to 10.
But anyone who owns a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds can keep it - although now, they have to register their magazines with the state.
That provision disappointed gun control supporters but as CNN reports, they're still happy with the legislation.
"It doesn't have everything we wanted, but it was everything that could be done within the political reality we were facing," Connecticut Against Gun Violence said in a statement on its website.
A group of protesters, mostly gun control supporters, rally in Newtown last week
The legislation also creates a registry of people who've been convicted of crimes involving dangerous weapons. It will be available to police across the state and is the first of its kind in America.
As well, it increases the penalties for illegal possession of firearms and sets safety standards for school buildings. It also allows mental health training for teachers and expands mental health research in the state.
Critics have said the new laws won't stop someone like Adam Lanza, who carried out the Newtown shooting.
"In his case, he stole the guns and went on a murderous rampage," Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, has said.
"Limiting magazine capacity or mandating registration will only affect law-abiding persons, not criminals bent on murder."
As NBC reports, the Citizens Defense League bused pro-gun supporters to the state Capitol building to protest, saying on its website...
"This is a last stand to show our legislators that we will not go away and accept the proposal as our fate... CCDL wishes to thank the NRA for running these buses throughout the day!"
Pro-gun supporters at the state Capitol building in January
Critics have also said the new laws infringe on their right to bear arms.
In fact, according to The (Danbury) News-Times, gun sales across the state spiked as it became clear the bill would pass.
Republican House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, who helped draft the bill, said no one will have their guns taken away "so long as they follow our rules and register."
Connecticut is the third state to bring in tougher gun laws since the Newtown shooting, along with New York and Colorado.
But gun laws vary dramatically from state to state. The Globe & Mail has a great interactive breakdown of all 50 states - check it out right here.
Today would have been the 7th birthday of Ana Marquez-Greene, one of the children killed in the shooting.
In an op-ed piece in USA TODAY, her parents Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, write:
"We don't need new laws to begin strengthening the bonds of family and community. We can be more giving, loving parents, friends and neighbors. We can offer love to those who are outcasts or alone. We can look to God and form an eternal relationship built from nothing but love.
"But we must do more. Today, the governor of our home state of Connecticut will sign historic bipartisan legislation designed by legislators to make our communities safer. Their cooperative spirit should be a model for Congress, when the Senate considers legislation next week to reduce gun violence."
President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to pass similar legislation, but he's facing tough opposition from the National Rifle Association.
Yesterday in Colorado, Obama said "there doesn't have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights."
He also pointed out that since the Newtown shooting, "more than 2,000 of our fellow citizens [have been] struck down" by guns.
"Every day we wait to do something about it," he said, "even more are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."
"If these reforms can keep one person from murdering dozens of innocent children, isn't it worth fighting for? I believe it is."