Connecticut Passes Sweeping New Gun Laws

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Connecticut lawmakers have reached a deal on what they are calling some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Among the highlights are a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the December Newtown school shooting.

The deal also calls for a new registry on existing high-capacity magazines and background checks for private gun sales.

Senate President Donald Williams Jr says the negotiations produced the “strongest and most comprehensive bill in the US” that addresses gun restrictions.

The new proposal, made public after weeks of negotiation by legislative leaders, is expected to go to a vote on Wednesday with the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican whose district includes Newtown, called the proposal “the most comprehensive package in the country because of its breadth”.

It would create a registry of weapons offenders and require a new state eligibility certificate for the purchase a rifle, shotgun or ammunition.

Such a certificate would be issued after the buyer was fingerprinted, took a firearms training course and passed both a criminal background check and checks to see whether the person had been committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Criminal background checks would now be required of all prospective gun purchasers. Currently, federal law exempts so-called private transactions, which can include online sales and sales at gun shows.

In additional to proposals directly related to guns, Mr McKinney said there was also “a lot here underneath the surface” addressing mental health, school security and other issues.

In a compromise, legislators did not ban existing ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. Instead, already purchased high-capacity magazines will have to be registered.

Some Newtown parents criticised the compromise.

“It doesn’t prevent someone from going out of the state to purchase them and then bring them back,” said Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old son Daniel was killed in the shooting.

Jake McGuigan, a spokesman for the Newtown-based gun group National Shooting Sports Foundation, also questioned the magazine registry.

“How will they register a magazine?” he told the Associated Press. “It seems a little weird.”

The US Congress is expected to vote on a raft of gun proposals this month, including broadened background checks, but gun rights advocates have pledged to block the measures.

On Monday, Connecticut House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat, said the state was showing Washington “the way to get this job done”.

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