By Ken Dixon
HARTFORD — The first piece of state gun-control legislation started making its way through the legislative pipeline Tuesday, around the time that a statewide anti-violence group announced its agenda.
It would require gun owners to have liability insurance and impose a 50 percent tax on ammunition sales. Rep. Robert C. Sampson, R-Southington, led the failed attempt to kill the bill.
“I’d like to go on record saying this is a horribly bad idea,” Sampson said.
Sen. Joseph J. Crisco Jr., D-Woodbridge, co-chairman of the committee, said after the brief committee meeting that he did not have an opinion on the bill, pending public hearings by legislators on the type of legislation that may emerge in an attempt to stop future mass shootings.
Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, co-sponsor of the legislation, said he would favor writing the bill to exempt ammunition bought at shooting ranges for use there. “The object is not to stop legitimate target practice, but to stop people from using them as weapons of mass destruction,” Godfrey said in a phone interview.
Godfrey said he and Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, have submitted a variety of gun-related bills to promote discussion. The idea of requiring liability insurance came from considering gun ownership in terms similar to owning a motor vehicle.
“We were interested in getting a bill out there for that discussion, so victims could have civil, not just criminal, recourse,” Godfrey said. “These are new issues, these are new ideas and new wrinkles in the discussion. I’m asking the questions and I’m asking other people to ask the questions, too.”
Meanwhile, the nonprofit group Connecticut Against Gun Violence on Tuesday issued an eight-point list of proposals including the expansion of the state’s definition of assault weapons to include the Bushmaster rifle that Adam Lanza, 20, of Newtown, used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
The group wants:
all rifles that fit the definition of assault weapons to be surrendered to police, removed from the state or destroyed.
a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than seven bullets.
permits and background checks prior to all gun sales in the state, not just pistol sales.
a limit on handgun sales of one per month.
“This comprehensive package of common-sense measures is the most ambitious proposal in our state’s history,” said Ron Pinciaro, executive director of the CAGV. “While we respect the rights of gun owners and we accept the Second Amendment as the law of the land, we are also mindful of what Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated in the syllabus of the Supreme Court’s brief on the issue: ’it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever, in any manner whatsoever, and for whatever purpose.’ The eyes of the nation are on Connecticut.”
A bipartisan legislative task force on Tuesday launched a new website: www.cga.ct.gov/asaferconnecticut. It will be a clearinghouse of testimony and announcements. In addition, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s advisory council on gun violence will meet for the first time Thursday.
On the agenda is a review of the pending investigation into the Sandy Hook massacre by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III and presentations from experts who were involved in the investigations after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007.
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