Legacy of the Newtown massacre: Connecticut passes America's strictest gun controls

Governor of Connecticut hails 'a new and historic model for the country' as he signs bill into law

Almost four months after suffering the horror of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that left 20 young children and six adults dead, residents of Connecticut woke yesterday to a raft of new gun control measures that will make their state one of the strictest in the land for firearm owners.

In a sombre and bipartisan vote taken at 2.30am on Thursday, the lower house in the state legislature overwhelmingly approved a package of new restrictions, passed by the state senate hours earlier. Steps include adding 100 new guns to the state’s existing assault weapons ban and establishing new rules for buying ammunition as well as a registry for dangerous weapons offenders, the first in the nation. It was signed later yesterday by Governor Dannel Malloy.

“This is a new and historic model for the country on an issue that has typically been the most controversial and divisive,” Senate leader Donald Williams, a Democrat, said near the end of the debate after reading out the names of the children killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown on 14 December. “We in Connecticut are breaking new ground.”

It is by no means clear, however, that the votes in Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, will galvanise other states in the US to follow suit. Some with Democrat majorities and governors, including New York and Colorado, have recently moved significantly to tighten their gun laws. In Colorado’s case it was more in response to last summer’s cinema massacre in Aurora, near Denver, which left 12 people dead. However, the impetus in several other states has been in the other direction.

In addition, efforts by President Barack Obama and some Democrats to cajole Congress into passing tougher federal gun control laws have encountered headwinds stirred by pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). There appears to be insufficient support for a federal assault weapons ban or limits on clip capacities. At best, Congress may legislate for more stringent background checks for gun buyers, but how stringent remains to be seen.

It is with an eye on Mr Obama and his allies that lawmakers in conservative states with Republican majorities are moving not to toughen controls but loosen them. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, ten states have passed laws to weaken restrictions, including Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Kentucky. Arkansas, for example, made it possible in January for citizens to carry guns into churches and college campuses.

Most of the steps to relax controls are fairly minor while the gun control laws being passed in states like Connecticut tend to be more sweeping. Most polls show a majority of Americans – including gun owners – favouring at least some toughening of controls. Yet the pushback by Republicans in conservative states and the faltering momentum in Congress means that progress nationally on gun control may end up being patchwork in nature at best.

That mixed response to the tragedy has driven Mr Obama to step up his own lobbying efforts. He will deliver a speech on gun control in Connecticut next week in an effort to increase pressure on Congress. He was in Denver on Wednesday for the same reason. “Why wouldn’t you want to make it more difficult for a dangerous criminal to get his or her hands on a gun?” Mr Obama asked his Colorado audience.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a Teaching Assistant...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Automation Test Lead (C#, Selenium, SQL, XML, Web-Services)

£50000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Automation Tes...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering