Connecticut Bans Bump Stocks
By Christopher Keating
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a ban Thursday on so-called bump stocks -- the devices used last year by a shooter in Las Vegas who killed nearly 60 people and wounded hundreds more at an outdoor concert.
The law also bans trigger cranks and other accessories that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at near-automatic speed. From a high-rise hotel, the Las Vegas shooter fired 90 rounds every 10 seconds.
Since the Las Vegas mass shooting in October -- the deadliest in modern American history -- several states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, California and Florida, have approved similar bans.
Some Democratic state legislators surrounded Malloy and applauded as he signed the bill into law, but no Republican lawmakers attended the ceremony at Bulkeley High School in Hartford.
"I think they were probably afraid that they'd be picked on for largely being responsible for ghost guns not passing," Malloy said after being asked by a television reporter. "Listen, we should have banned ghost guns as well. There were a handful of Democrats who were weak-kneed on it, I'll admit that. But by and large, the opposition to a ghost gun law, which would have improved our safety, was the responsibility of the Republican Party."
Ghost guns are firearms that can be purchased in parts on the internet and then assembled at home with no serial number, registration or background check. Some Democrats tried to ban the guns during the past legislative session, but the measure was never debated in the state House of Representatives or the Senate.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven noted that both Republicans and Democrats voted strongly for the bump stock ban. The measure passed 26-10 in the Senate and 114-35 in the House.
"Leave it to Gov. Malloy to take a serious issue and turn good bipartisan policy into divisive partisan politics," Fasano said. "On his way out of office, Gov. Malloy is still trying to be divisive and play politics even on an issue that had bipartisan support. The bipartisan vote tally on the bump stock ban speaks for itself. Yet Gov. Malloy's comments today were a direct effort to incite division. I did not see any Democrat legislative leaders at today's bill-signing, but the governor chooses to attack only Republicans."
Malloy is not running for re-election and Rep. William Tong, who pushed for the ghost gun bill as co-chairman of the legislature's judiciary committee, is running for attorney general and will not be serving in the General Assembly.
But Rep. Steven Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat who serves as the committee's vice chairman, told The Courant after the bill-signing that he will re-introduce the ghost gun ban next year.
Tong, an attorney, said he had no concerns that a civil lawsuit by gun rights supporters could block the bump stock ban.
"It's not even close that it's constitutional under the two leading Supreme Court cases, written by two of the most conservative Supreme Court justices," Tong said. "It said that the state clearly has the right and prerogative under its police power to pass commonsense gun reforms and gun laws."
The bump stock bill bans the purchase, possession, use and sale of the devices. The new law takes effect Oct. 1, giving anyone who currently owns the devices time to get rid of them. There is no grandfather clause.
Anyone eviously had a with a bump stock will initially be charged with a misdemeanor but eventually anyone possessing the devices will be charged with a felony.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat and longtime gun control advocate, said federal authorities should follow the state's lead.
"Connecticut is once again showing the nation that bipartisan, commonsense gun violence prevention measures are achievable and necessary," Blumenthal said. "Congress should take a page from Connecticut and ban bump stocks immediately and completely. Connecticut's borders cannot stop the transport of these deadly devices until they are banned nationwide."
The bill-signing was attended by a variety of legislators and gun control advocates.
Chaeli Allen of the Newtown Action Alliance said she became an activist after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings in her hometown. She attended the March for our Lives in Washington, D.C., this spring that was prompted after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
On the day of the Newtown shootings, Allen was an eighth-grade student at St. Rose of Lima School, only about a mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Throughout the healing process, it's been difficult to confront this head-on," Allen said Thursday. "There's been a renewed energy, especially after Parkland."
(c)2018 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)