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Sandy Hook panel has 42 recommendations on gun and school security laws

By Johanna Somers

Publication: The Day

Published March 19. 2013 4:00AM   Updated March 19. 2013 5:00PM
Ban on firearms firing more than 10 rounds among suggestions

Hartford - The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission submitted a list of 42 recommendations to him on Monday to strengthen the state's gun and school security laws.

"I realize that you may agree with some of our interim recommendations, and disagree with others," wrote Scott Jackson, mayor of Hamden and commission chairman, to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Jackson said the commission will be working on mental health services recommendations and looking deeper at gun control and school safety best practices in the coming months, Jackson said.

The commission recommends prohibiting the possession, sale or transfer of any firearm that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading.

"It is the consensus of the Commission that gun violence is an issue that goes far beyond the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and the commonality of high-capacity firearms in violent crimes must be acknowledged," according to the commission's report.

The commission found that the current definition of an "assault weapon" deals only with cosmetic changes, for example the number of military-style characteristics, as opposed to its lethality.

Malloy said he does not agree with the commission's recommendation on assault weapons.

"While I do not advocate a retroactive ban on the possession of firearms that are legally owned under current law, there are residents of our state who support such measures, and their views … have a place in this conversation," Malloy said in a press release on Monday.

This means Malloy would be in favor of grandfathering weapons added to the assault weapons ban. But people would have to declare these guns and pass a background check, Malloy said last week at The Day's editorial board meeting.

His opinion is similar to that of the Democrats of the legislature's Gun Violence Prevention Working Group. People who own weapons added to the assault weapons ban could continue to own them if they possessed them as of Jan. 14, 2014. Those owners would be required to apply for a certificate of possession from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The commission recommended instituting a ban on the sale, possession and use of any magazine or ammunition-feeding device that has more than 10 rounds. That recommendation is in line with those from the Democrats of the working group and Malloy's proposals.

In response to sportsmen who might be concerned about competing in certain sporting events, the commission said, "the spirit of sportsmanship can be maintained with lower capacity magazines."

Last week Malloy said he did not want to grandfather magazines with more than 10 rounds.

"We are not going to grandfather magazines for assault weapons so I think the better way to do that would be to give people the time to get a new magazine," Malloy said.

He said after speaking with people at gun shops he understood an old magazine could be filled or plugged to receive only 10 rounds.

The commission also wants there to be more uniformity for gun registration and permitting.

According to the report, the Connecticut State Police said there are about 1.4 million registered firearms in Connecticut and up to 2 million unregistered firearms.

The commission is recommending that there be mandatory background checks for the sale or transfer of any firearm during a private sale or at a gun show.

The state should also consider requiring the registration of any firearm, according to the report. The certificate of registration would be issued after a completed background check.

The commission also recommended requiring renewal of firearm permits on a regular basis.

Some of the recommendations the committee made on school safety included requiring all K-12 classrooms have locking doors and hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.

Connecticut should also consider creating an "all-hazards threat and risk assessment security recommendations" tool and an "emergency response plan."

The plan could provide a common planning and assessment baseline for all schools. The assessment tool could provide a way to identify protective building designs, according to the report.

j.somers@theday.com

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