The Connecticut state Senate gave final approval on June 4 to a gun control bill that would extend a ban on assault weapons and outlaw certain types of high-powered ammunition, according to The Hartford Courant.
Both sides in the gun control debate claimed victory.
Although the billapproved by the Senate 26-10was watered down from the original, its Democratic sponsors say it still marks progress in the states attempts to crack down on assault weapons.
Gun rights advocates, meanwhile, say the measure will do little to change existing gun laws, marking a victory for their efforts.
Republican Gov. John G. Rowland said that he intends to sign the bill.
I havent looked at all the technicalities, but Ill probably sign it, Rowland told reporters in a brief appearance outside his office.
The bill folds the language of the existing federal assault-weapon banwhich expires in 2004into existing state law. By doing so, state lawmakers ensured that existing state gun laws will remain the same, even if Congress fails to renew the federal ban when it expires in three years. Currently, the federal law covers firearms that are not included in the states 1993 ban on semi-automatic firearms.
Senate Majority Leader George C. Jepsen (D-Stamford) said he was disappointed that a provision in the original bill to ban more than 50 specific firearm models, was dropped as part of a compromise forged by lawmakers in the final days of consideration. The listmeant to broaden the existing state ban by adding copycat modelsdrew strong opposition from gun activists, because it included several popular firearms used by sportsmen on shooting ranges.
But Jepsen added, What we did get [into law] is a broad standard that will extend indefinitely the federal ban and prohibit the sale of certain kinds of incendiary and armor-piercing ammunition.
Robert Crook, a lobbyist for the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said gun rights advocates scored a victory when lawmakers in the House of Representatives agreed to exempt guns made before 1994. The original bill would have prohibited the sale or purchase of all assault weapons, even if they were made prior to 1994.
Continuing the federal ban beyond 2004 was no loss, Crook said.
Im very pleased the Senate recognized just how important it is to continue to make compromises between sportsmen and gun control advocates, said Rep. Ronald San Angelo (R-Naugatuck), a pro-gun advocate who worked on the compromise bill. If the bill originally passed by the Senate had become law, it would have been impossible to get both sides to the table to negotiate future gun legislation.
The gun bill makes three other changes to existing law. One would set up a protocol to seize guns from people who are subject to restraining orders.
Another change would streamline the state gun licensing procedure by allowing people to apply for only a state permit, rather than both a local and state permit. The third change would set up a firearms evidence database to store photographs of discharged ammunition.
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