In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut has passed a new law making it more difficult for potential owners to acquire guns and banning a hundred weapons previously available for sale. The law, targeting the loopholes that made it possible for the shooter to use legal weapons last December, is rekindling conversation about more effective gun control all around the country, and especially in Massachusetts, where gun crime is the one type of crime to have increased in recent years.
New CT Bill Response to Sandy Hook Mass Shooting
Connecticut’s gun control laws have been under national scrutiny from both journalists and politicians since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, which took the lives of twenty children and six school faculty. The shooter in that instance, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, acquired his weapons through his mother, using registered firearms to commit his crime.
Officials at every level in the state have begun to design new measures to fill the loopholes that made it possible for Lanza to receive training in gun use from his mother and subsequently use her legally-purchased weapons to kill children. The store that sold the guns used in the massacre has since lost its license to sell firearms, and while the ATF did not specify the reasons why, they noted that “poor keeping of the records” probably played a role. Meanwhile, individual boards of education have begun taking measures to secure their schools, with the Board of Education of Enfield, CT being the firstto come to an agreement on the implementation of armed guards throughout the school system.
New Law Receives Mixed Response
On April 4, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law the aforementioned bill, which, among other things, bans a hundred arms not previously listed on the assault weapons ban list, limits the sale of high-capacity magazines, and beefs up background check requirements. The response to the new bill has been mixed; while polls show that, nationally, a large plurality of voters support more thorough background checks on gun owners, gun manufacturers have objected to the law’s limitations. One manufacturer even announced it would be moving its operations out of state to one with more hospitable laws for its business.
MA Gun Crime Up In Past Decade
The successful push for new legislation in Connecticut has sparked talk of more gun control in neighboring Massachusetts. Massachusetts enjoys a reputation nationally as having some of the toughest laws against gun crime on the books, but statistics show that recent years have been less kind to the efficacy of those laws than the reputation that precedes them. While Massachusetts has enjoyed a general drop in crime, especially in Boston, gun crime in particular is up. As WWLP explains, the number of gun murders in 2011 was almost double that in 1998. In Boston, nonfatal shootings are up 20% this year, and arrests related to guns is up 11% from 2012 to 2013. As a result, local groups in the Boston area have began to call for more gun control, with the celebration of the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord hosting a rally in favor of more legislation in response to a rally celebrating the Second Amendment.
While it is too soon to speculate whether the Connecticut law will trigger a domino effect of gun legislation across New England, it has certainly opened a door to further conversation as to what our state officials can do to prevent further crime of any magnitude, from the low-level gun crime Boston Police routinely prevent to the tragic use of rudimentary bombs to cause the heinous tragedy at this year’s marathon. Expect this to be the beginning of a long—and, hopefully, fruitful— conversation on the prevention of violent crime.