Connecticut signs in strict gun laws after Sandy Hook massacre | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 04.04.2013
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Connecticut signs in strict gun laws after Sandy Hook massacre

The state of Connecticut has signed in one of the toughest gun laws in the US after it became the scene of a school shooting that left 20 children dead. The bill bans high-capacity gun clips, among other regulations.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law on Thursday afternoon in the presence of state lawmakers and Sandy Hook Elementary School victims' family members.

The legislation was a first step, the governor said, toward preventing the state from ever experiencing another shooting similar to the one in December that devastated not only one of its communities but the entire nation.

"We can never undo the senseless tragedy," Malloy said. "But we can take action here in Connecticut and we can make Connecticut towns safer, and this bill does that."

The governor praised the bipartisanship displayed by lawmakers from the state's House of Representatives. After nearly eight hours of debate, they voted 105 to 44 in favor of the bill earlier on Thursday.

Gunman Adam Lanza stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14. Within less than five minutes, he had fired 154 rounds using high-capacity ammunition clips, before turning the gun on himself. Twenty children and six adults were killed in the attack. Lanza is believed to have obtained the weapon from his mother's gun collection.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the shooting.

Toughest gun law in the US

Although the new law will affect only about 1 percent of the US population of some 313 million, advocates of tighter gun restrictions hope that Connecticut's decisive action can convince staunch supporters of gun rights to instead work to curb gun violence.

The new legislation requires background checks for private gun sales, bans the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips and requires current owners of those clips to register them with the state of Connecticut.

A new fund of $15 million (11.7 million euros) is to be established in order to help schools improve security infrastructure.

Owners of existing clips capable of holding 10 or more bullets are required to register them with the state. Failing to register these high-capacity clips will be considered a felony offense beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

Opponents of gun laws argue that government restrictions on weapons infringes on each US citizens' right to bear arms granted by the US Constitution.

The powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby maintains that the best protection against gun violence is responsible gun ownership.

Connecticut's tough gun law comes at time when gun measures have stalled in Congress and gun violence persists. In addition to the many fatal shootings that have occurred in public spaces, fatal shootings of public figures have renewed worries over gun violence.

Late last month, the Director of Colorado prisons was shot dead at his home. Several weeks later, a Texas prosecutor and his wife were slain in a similar manner.

kms/rc (AFP,AP)