Connecticut Finally Figures Out a Post-Newtown Gun-Control Plan

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HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 14: People hold up a signs during a rally at the Connecticut State Capital to promote gun control legislation in the wake of the December 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown on February 14, 2013 in Hartford, Connecticut. Referred to as the 'March for Change' and held on the two-month anniversary of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, participants called for improved gun safety laws. Among the safety measures being demanded are for universal background checks, more work within the mental health community and restricting high-capacity magazines. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Connecticut has been struggling to come up with new gun-control measures ever since Adam Lanza walked into an elementary school there and killed 26 people. On Monday, lawmakers there announced they had reached an agreement that legislators called the nation's strongest. It would make the state's laws much stiffer by banning high capacity magazines and about 100 more assault weapons than are covered by an existing ban. It also requires background checks at gun shows and creates a registry for those convicted of weapons offenses. Thanks to bipartisan support, the bill is expected to pass easily on Wednesday, the Hartford Courant reports. Opponents to the proposed new restrictions complained they'd been lobbying against the measures in vain, and said they wouldn't do any good anyway.

Nobody will have to give up their large magazines or newly banned guns if they already own them. Instead, they'll have to register them with the state. And those who keep their high-capacity magazines won't be allowed to load them with more than ten bullets outside their home or a shooting range. By comparison, New York's recent gun control law banned high capacity magazines outright, though it's still trying to decide, once and for all, whether the cut-off for "high capacity" is seven or ten bullets.

Under Connecticut's existing assault-weapons ban, a gun must have "military-style characteristics on a list of several, such as a pistol grip and a flash suppressor," to be banned. The new law would lower that to one, and also identifies more than 160 banned weapons by name, the Courant reports.

"Whatever gun legislation they pass is not going to have an impact on anything that happened at Sandy Hook. The problem there was the individual and the mother," Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, told the New York Times. He told the Associated Press, "They can register magazines and do all the rest of this stuff. It isn't going to do anything." And he said that gun owners who've been protesting new controls in the state capitol "are concerned they've been showing up 'for virtually nothing' after learning about the bill."

Proponents pointed out that Lanza carried ten 30-round magazines into the school. "We have learned that in the time it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape," one mother of a slain child said at a news conference Monday, per the Times. "We ask ourselves every day — every minute — if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?"

Meanwhile, in Georgia, a small town called Nelson passed an unenforceable law making gun ownership mandatory. So yeah, absent federal legislation, we're all going to figure out what works best locally.