The mass murder in Sandy Hook has spurred an effort, not always successful in the past, to bum-rush gun restriction legislation through both the U.S. Congress and Connecticut’s General Assembly.
State gun control laws, as a general rule, are far less successful than national laws because the effective reach of state laws ends at the border. Criminals bent on mayhem may acquire weapons “illegal” in Connecticut by purchasing them outside the state, acquiring weapons on the black market or simply stealing them in states in which laws are less restrictive than those of Connecticut. National gun control laws would be uniform and apply in every state in the union. Connecticut’s gun control laws, the fourth most restrictive in the nation, were not successful in preventing a murderous assault by Adam Lanza on the Sandy Hook Elementary school in which 6 faculty members and 20 children were cruelly slaughtered in two classrooms by a determined murderer who apparently stole an arsenal of weapons from his mother, his first victim.
According to one report, Mr. Lanza attempted to purchase a weapon from a gun shop in Danbury sometime before he launched his murder spree but was discouraged by a Connecticut law requiring a waiting period before the purchase of a weapon could be completed.
Immediately following Mr. Lanza’s assault, public attention became focused on the weapons used by Mr. Lanza. Some Connecticut law makers twice attempted unsuccessfully to redraft the state’s gun laws, once in 2001 and again in 2011, to ban one of the weapons purportedly used by Mr. Lanza, a Bushmaster rifle. On both occasions, additional gun restrictions failed to pass the General Assembly.
In 2001, according to Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate Martin Looney, an attempt was made to add to a list of proscribed weapons the very weapon used by Mr. Lanza in his assault. While the 2001 bill cleared the Senate on a bi-partisan vote, it “unfortunately ran into some trouble in the state House,” then as now dominated by Democrats, said Mr. Looney. The bill, according to recent remarks made by the Senate leader in a news account was not able to survive a “well-orchestrated effort by sportsmen and other gun enthusiasts… We wanted to include those guns” – the Bushmaster rifle used by Mr. Lanza – “or knockoffs. If that bill had been passed in 2001, it would not have been legal to have that Bushmaster rifle, the gun that was used in Newtown last Friday.”
Mr. Looney neglected to mention that in 2002, according to an Office of Legislative Research report issued in August 2012, the Democratic dominated legislature passed a bill that exempted possession of certain types of assault weapons from its ban. The bill, which took effect on October 1, 2002, “exempted possession (but not other transactions) of Auto-Ordnance Thompson type; Avtomat Kalashnikov AK-47 type; and MAC-10, MAC-11, and MAC-11 Carbine type assault weapons by anyone who:
“1. purchased legally and in good faith, or otherwise obtained title to, any of these weapons between October 1, 1993 and May 8, 2002;
“2. was not otherwise disqualified or prohibited from possessing them."
Had the legislature in 2001 included the Bushmaster rifle within its list of prohibited firearms, it very likely would have been exempted under the 2002 exemption provision. That exemption would have included Mrs. Lanza’s firearm purchases, because she was “not disqualified from possessing the weapons.”
It is misleading to suggest that had Bushmaster rifle been included in the 2001 legislation, the massacre in Sandy Hook would not have occurred. One supposes Mr. Looney’s suggestion was made for theatrical effect in preparation for new gun regulation legislation that may be passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders.
In fact, there appears to be a growing consensus that Mr. Lanza could have been stopped in his murderous mission only by an armed contingent – which is exactly what, happened. Presented with an overwhelming armed force, Mr. Lanza committed suicide. It was the speedy arrival of armed first responders that prevented additional carnage. Anything that shortens the arrival time of first responders – Connecticut Commentary has suggested an alarm system in school, somewhat like fire alarms, directly connected with police stations – might, unlike pointless legislation, save lives. Mr. Lanza, who transported to the school as many as four weapons stolen from his mother, whom he killed, was no respecter of General Assembly legislation.