Stating that neither the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission he created, nor the Connecticut legislature’s bipartisan committee has moved fast enough on measures to curb gun violence, Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) took matters into his own hands by unveiling his own proposals on Thursday. Malloy’s plan would broaden his state’s ban on weapons to include the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, the type of firearm allegedly used by the Newtown shooter, lower magazine capacities from 30 to 10, and expand background checks.
Malloy’s presentation was part of a gun-control symposium held at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT. The forum also featured Vice President Joe Biden, who has taken on President Obama’s gun control initiatives.
Earlier in the week, the governor sharply criticized the bipartisan legislative committee for the pace of its action. The committee has heard testimony on school safety, gun safety, and mental health issues. The commission appointed by Malloy, consisting of professionals in several fields who volunteered their time for meetings and hearings, faced a March 15th deadline to provide the governor with a preliminary list of recommendations also pertaining to school safety, mental health concerns, and gun violence prevention.
Malloy’s criticism of the committees was in contrast to his demeanor when he commissioned the Sandy Hook task force in January.
“I’m not going to put you under any pressure,” the governor said at the time. “In fact, I’ll protect you from that pressure, should that be required.”
Malloy said on Thursday, however, that “we run a risk of letting this critical moment in history pass us by. None of us want that to happen, and none of us should let it happen.”
Referring to his plan as “common sense” proposals, Malloy said that he would change the definition of “assault weapon to any semiautomatic that has at least one military characteristic, and ban the sale of these weapons in our state.”
At the present time, a weapon must have two characteristics of a military firearm to be considered an “assault weapon.”
The governor’s plan calls for prohibition of the sale of the AR-15. Those Connecticut residents who already own this firearm would be required to register it with the State Police to obtain a certificate of possession. Sales of the AR-15 could only be made to a licensed firearms dealer or out of state.
Malloy’s plan to make background checks universal broadens the criminal history that would make an individual ineligible to purchase a gun. His proposal would not only include any violation of the law involving a firearm, or the use or threat of force, but also non-violent crimes, like operating a car under the influence or possession of a controlled substance within the last five years. Gun owners who are convicted of these crimes would have their firearms revoked, according to Malloy’s proposal.
“We need to expand laws around gun storage so that these weapons don’t fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” the governor said. Gun owners have a responsibility to store their weapons safely, and should be held accountable if a person is injured because of an improperly stored weapon.”
During Biden’s presentation, he praised Malloy for his leadership following the Dec. 14th shooting rampage.
“Would that it be that every governor acted as swiftly, decisively and courageously as you,” Biden said.
Malloy traveled to Washington in January to attend the president’s inauguration. While there, he met with Biden at the White House for a 75-minute meeting during which the two discussed similar gun control efforts on the federal level.
“We had a frank discussion about mental health and gun control,” Malloy said.