What You Should Know About Connecticut’s Historic New Gun Law

On a hillside in Newtown, Conn., art teacher Eric Mueller sets up wooden angels in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

At 2:26 a.m. on Thursday, after more than 13 hours of debate, the General Assembly of the state of Connecticut — home of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — passed what’s being called the “toughest” and most “far-reaching” gun legislation in the country. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) plans to sign the bill into law at noon on Thursday.

Here’s what you need to know about the law:

1. It has bipartisan support. Certainly more Democrats than Republicans supported the bill, but the vote in the state House was 105 to 44, with 40 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats voting for it. Earlier, the Senate voted with only 2 of the 22 Democrats opposing the law. Nearly half of Connecticut Senate Republicans voted for the measure.

2. It expands the state’s assault weapons ban. Connecticut already has an Assault Weapons Ban in place, but the new law will add over 100 new types of guns to the banned list. Among these is the Bushmaster AR-15 gun, which is what the Sandy Hook gunman used in his horrific killing spree. People who already own such weapons will be permitted to keep them, but must comply with new registration standards.

3. Magazine clips will be limited to 10 rounds. Connecticut’s new law will immediately ban the sale of any large-capacity magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds. Gun owners who’ve already purchased high-capacity clips will be grandfathered in, but they register any extended clips they have, if they plan to keep them. And they can’t bring those bigger clips around with them; the new law requires that any extended magazines still on the market be used only in a private home or at a shooting range.

4. All gun and ammunition sales will require a background check. Effective immediately, every single sale of a gun or of bullets in the state of Connecticut must include a background check. Universal background checks are probably the most widely supported measure in Connecticut’s new gun law; nationally, background checks have 92 percent support.

5. Mental health isn’t left out of the equation. Not every measure in the new law intends to regulate firearms; the bill also includes expanded funding for mental health research, and allows for greater training on mental health issues for Connecticut’s teachers. The bill also creates a council in the state with the express purpose of determining how schools can be more safe, and when mental health records should block someone from being able to purchase a firearm.

As was the case when both New York and Colorado passed new gun legislation, gun manufacturers are flexing their lobbying muscles by threatening to leave the state, and some firearm owners are mobbing stores to load up on magazines and weapons before the bans go into effect. But these two actions are not symbolic of widespread opposition. In fact, there’s a lot of support for stronger gun laws. Even hunting organizations are in favor of taking legislative action to prevent gun violence. And the benefit of tightening gun laws is clear; on Wednesday, a report released by the Center for American Progress found a link between weak gun laws and high gun violence.