“[T]he proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States is a major health and safety threat to its citizens. The League supports strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of these weapons by private citizens. The League supports regulating firearms for consumer safety.
The League supports licensing procedures for gun ownership by private citizens to include a waiting period for background check, personal identity verification, gun safety education and annual license renewal. The license fee should be adequate to bear the cost of education and verification.”
In Connecticut, LWVCT has supported strong measures to protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. LWVCT advocated for CT’s 1994 assault weapons ban, the 2007 law mandating the reporting of a theft or loss of a firearm, and offered testimony in 2011 supporting a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines.
At this critical juncture in the national debate on gun violence reduction, with eyes focused on CT’s response, LWVCT urges for support for the following legislative proposals, contained in current bills or as they may be amended or substituted:
- Universal Background Checks
- Ban High Capacity Ammunition Magazines
- Update the Assault Weapons Ban
- Stricter Firearm Storage Requirements
- Permits for Rifles
- Registration of Firearms
- Strengthen existing statute prohibiting hunting or carrying a loaded firearm under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers in CT.
Universal background checks throughout the country could have the most significant impact on public safety—changing the current reality that an estimated 40% of all gun sales occur nationally without background checks. We need to start here in CT.
2. Ban high capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
It is imperative to get high capacity ammunition magazines off our streets. The shooters in recent mass killings have used the high capacity clips that now equip many handguns and rifles. The expired federal assault weapons ban focused on a ban of magazines of “more than 10 rounds,” and CT should set this limit at a minimum.
3. Update CT’s assault weapons ban.
We need to strengthen CT’s ban on assault weapons, by defining weapons based on functionality features and improving the current list of firearms included in state statutes. CT should enact a comprehensive assault weapons ban which bans firearms with one or more military-style features.
4. Stricter firearm storage requirements.
Current CT law prohibits any person from storing a loaded firearm on his or her premises if he or she knows or reasonably should know that a minor (person under age 16) is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the minor’s parent or guardian. This provision should be expanded to include access to the firearm by any minor under the age of 18 or by any dangerous person, such as those who would be prohibited persons unable to obtain a handgun permit under CT law.
5. Permits for rifles and shotguns.
CT already has a permit requirement for the open or concealed carry of handguns, so that this administrative process is already in place. Currently, an 18 year old can purchase a semi-automatic hunting rifle with only a 2 week waiting period. Extending the permit requirement to the purchase and carry of rifles and shotguns would increase the safety of our families and communities without significant burden—one permit would be required for the purchase and carry of either a handgun or a long gun.
6. Registration of firearms in CT.
Through a recent consensus process, local Leagues in CT recently approved advocacy for state level registration of firearms. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, registration laws provide a cornerstone of responsible gun policy because they: (1) furnish law enforcement with essential information about firearm ownership, facilitating fast and reliable tracing of crime guns; and (2) reduce illegal firearm sales by creating accountability for gun owners.
7. Strengthen law against carrying a loaded firearm while intoxicated.
In 2012, LWVCT supported revising the existing statutory prohibition on hunting or carrying a loaded firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, by setting the blood alcohol level for determining intoxication the same as for driving a car. This is clearly a common sense measure.