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Lawmaker To Reintroduce Ban On High Capacity Magazines

by | Dec 18, 2012 6:18pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Town News, East Hartford, Newtown, Public Safety

The gunman who carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School used a Bushmaster rifle that belonged to his mother and was equipped with multiple high-capacity magazines that each contained 30 rounds of ammunition, according to state police. He had hundreds of bullets at his disposal.

The Bushmaster rifle he used to gain entrance to the school is not technically an assault rifle, but rather is a popular semi-automatic rifle modeled after the military’s M-16. It was obtained legally.

Connecticut banned assault weapons in 1993, a year before the federal ban went into effect. The state further strengthened the law in 2001 when it discovered gun manufacturers were trying to get around the ban by modifying the guns or simply changing the model numbers.

So even though Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, the state has not banned high-capacity magazines, each of which carries 10 bullets or more. When the federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004, so did the federal ban on high-capacity magazines.

In 2011, Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, introduced legislation in Connecticut that would have ban high-capacity clips, in addition to making it a criminal offense to own them. There was no grandfather clause in the bill. The legislation asked gun owners to turn in their high capacity clips or face criminal penalties.

But the bill never made it out of the Judiciary Committee after a heated public hearing during which hundreds turned out to speak in opposition to the proposal.

“At some point you say to yourself, ‘enough.’ What can we do that makes sense that can turn the corner on this violence,” LeBeau said in his Capitol office on Tuesday.

LeBeau said he will likely introduce the legislation again, but doesn’t anticipate doing it with in the next few weeks.

“We owe it to these children and families to introduce responsible legislation,” LeBeau said. “If we could do that it would give some meaning to what is a senseless act.”

He said the legislation was the right thing to do in 2011, shortly after the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords at an Arizona supermarket, and “it’s even more right now.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that he supports the 2nd Amendment and a person’s opportunity to hunt, but would also support LeBeau’s proposal to ban high-capacity magazines.

But gun enthusiasts and the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen are likely to oppose the legislation again.

Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday, but he told the Hartford Courant he wasn’t overly concerned about the legislation coming back this year.

“We killed it once,” he said. “And I would suspect once things quiet down a little bit, we’ll probably do it again.”

A public hearing transcript from March 23, 2011, details a sometimes contentious hearing where the chairmen had to ask the audience to quiet down and hold their applause.

Gun owners, some of whom acquired their weapons following the 2007 murders of three members of the Petit family in Cheshire, testified in opposition to the legislation.

Leonard Benedetto, vice president of the Connecticut Citizen’s Defense League, testified that membership in his organization had grown to 1,300 in just two years. He said many of his members were first-time gun owners.

“They get their families out into suburbia and into bedroom communities, and they feel that — that distance from the city allows them a little bit more protection and a little more safety,” Benedetto testified. “Unfortunately, when cases like the Petit case happen, it — it’s shown that it’s just not true.”

An NRA liaison testified that banning high-capacity clips would not have limited the number of casualties in the Virginia Tech massacre.

Andrew Jennison, of the National Rifle Association, testified that the Virigina Tech Review panel commissioned by Gov. Tim Kaine concluded that “10 round magazines which were legal would not have made a difference in the incident. Even pistols with rapid loaders could have been about as deadly in this situation.”

“Despite the recent media attention given to large capacity magazines, no correlation exists between the size or capacity of detachable magazine and crime,” Jennison wrote. “Individuals who are currently prohibited by federal law from purchasing firearms are also prohibited from purchasing ammunition.”

Gun owners also argued they have a property right to the ammunition they’ve already purchased and the state needs to compensate them if it wants to confiscate the magazines.

“It makes felons law abiding citizens unless they forfeit their rightfully owned and purchased property,” Crook testified.

Rep. Al Adinolfi, R-Cheshire, who lives a few doors down from the Petit family, testified that he would need a high-capacity magazine to defend his home.

“I probably would hit the dresser 10 times before I hit him. So I’d definitely want a larger magazine to defend myself,” Adinolfi said. The comment was met with applause from the audience at the public hearing.

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, testified that for all the hyperbole about self-defense he doesn’t believe he heard one person talk about how a high-capacity ammunition magazine played a role in protecting a home or property.

“These magazines turn already dangerous weapons into killing machines,” Pinciaro said.

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(12) Archived Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | December 18, 2012  9:32pm


I would like to meet any Connecticut resident who actually used a 10-30 shot clip to defend themselves or their family during the commitment of a crime at their home or at the local mall.

posted by: Getrealamerica | December 19, 2012  4:12am

You would like to meet someone who actually used a 10 to 30 shot mag? then talk to anyone who defended their home using any modern full size semi auto handgun, these days guns come from the factory with at least 15 round mags for a 9mm. Get real man if you think banning hi-cap mags will lessen violence I think you should get your head Examined ASAP

posted by: JAM | December 19, 2012  10:46am

If you can’t get the deer with five rounds, the deer wins.

posted by: JimSargent | December 19, 2012  12:49pm

Representative Adinolfi’s comments bring up another issue. If he is admittedly such a lousy shot, what business does he have with a firearm? Why don’t we have the same expectations and license requirements of gun owners that we do of drivers? Perhaps keeping guns out of the hands of irresponsible and untrained owners would cut down on the number of accidental deaths.

posted by: sparkplug | December 19, 2012  2:25pm

“These magazines turn already dangerous weapons into killing machines.”

A gun is no more a killing machine than a spoon is a fat generating machine. Both require a human with the intent to use it for ill purposes. The problem isn’t guns (or spoons) it is the people who intend to use them for destructive purposes.

Perhaps our illustrious legislators should also ban large spoons because of their potential to make people fat. THAT is how ridiculous this debate is.

posted by: ALD | December 19, 2012  9:41pm

“Perhaps our illustrious legislators should also ban large spoons because of their potential to make people fat. THAT is how ridiculous this debate is.”

Or perhaps they should ban jumbo jets because in the wrong hands they can be flown into buildings full of people killing thousands at a time?

As you point out the real problems here goes far deeper than this headline grabbing focus of attention.  I am not saying that some common sense approach to improving our gun laws does not have it’s place as a part of the solution.  But it’s the simple easy target, so our politicians here in Hartford, and in Washington are clearly up to that task.

However resolving complex problems like this, require a lot of root cause study, very hard behind the scenes work, and a long term dedication to a solution.  Not the kind of background work that is going to get much TV time for some of these guys. 

So after the media has lost interest in this story, and has moved on to the Super Bowl, or some other event of “National importance”, let’s see if our politicians stay hard at work on this.  Or will we shortly be seeing them just slapping themselves on the back for reducing clip sizes from 30 to 10 or so?

I have little interest in what these guys say when they are being interviewed, or in front of a TV camera, especially those who seek out any TV camera they can find.  I am only interested in what real solutions they come up with when the spot lights are off, and they are doing what we taxpayers are paying them to do.

posted by: GPA | December 20, 2012  10:04am

“Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”~Benjamin Franklin

Recipe for a Revolution

posted by: GPA | December 20, 2012  10:04am

Remember the mind-set of the Founders when they wrote the Constitution. They had just fought a bloody war against a King; a King who was an absolute monarch; a King who could silence whomever he wished, take whatever property he coveted, and impose whatever law he wanted; he could regulate any behavior, tax any event, reach deeply into any life, and take away anyone’s rights; not because he had the moral authority to do so—no government does—but because his soldiers were obedient and they had guns. All this monarchical power was repugnant to the Framers; and essentially, they wrote the Constitution to assure that no government here would do to Americans what the King had done to the colonists.

posted by: GPA | December 20, 2012  10:06am

The History of Gun Control

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Let’s see how many defenseless people were exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control:

Country   Year(s)  People
USSR   1929-1953   20,000,000
Turkey   1915-1917   1,500,000
Germany   1939-1945   13,000,000
China   1948-1952   20,000,000
Guatemala   1964-1981   100,000
Uganda   1971-1979   300,000
Cambodia   1975-1977   1,000,000

Total: 56 million.

Governments around the World need a history lesson.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by
new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their
own government, a program costing Australian taxpayers more than $500
million dollars. The first year results are now in:
1) Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent.
2) Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent.
3) Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent!)
4) In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent.

Note, that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals
did not, and criminals still possess their guns! While figures over the
previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with
firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months,
since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of
the ELDERLY. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how
public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort
and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns.

The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.

You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians
disseminating this information. Guns in the hands of honest citizens
save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect
only the law-abiding citizens.

Take note my fellow Americans, before it’s too late! The next time
someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this
history lesson.
With guns, we are ‘citizens.’ Without them, we are ’subjects.’

“No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”
- New York State Surrogate Court Judge Gideon Tucker, 1866

posted by: FedUpwithCT | December 21, 2012  8:29am

Second paragraph, last sentence…  explain to me how stealing the weapon from his mother and killing her with it was “obtained legally”?  The perpetrator commited 2 crimes in order to procure the weapon.  So, if I take a police officer’s gun, I am legally obtaining it?  Posession is 9/10th of the law?

The term “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are meaningless, they were created by the media to instill an aura of danger or mystery around the device.  If I smack you with a bean bag, the bean bag has now become an “assault weapon”, as I have assaulted you, and by definition, it has now become a weapon.  If I beat you with the shoulder stock of my Remington .22 rifle, it has just become an “assault rifle” without firing a shot!

I spent 8 years in the Army, firing a plethora of weapons.  Any goober with a gun can become proficient at quick magazine changes.  I proved I was able to put 60 rounds on target with 3-20 round magazines than the average person with 2-30 round magazines.

So, you want to ban “high capacity magazines”.  That is fine.  Go ahead, but at the same time, you had better install restrictor plates on every car/truck/motorcycle/SUV/bus in the state (stop them at the border as they come through too to “upgrade them” - can’t have out of state drivers breaking our laws).  The state law says the speed limit (at most) is 65 MPH, so no vehicle in the state can be configured to travel more than that speed.

finally, thank you ALD and GPA, love the stats on countries that have banned firearms completely, proving the point that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.  The spoon analogy is excellent, you can use the same arguement for a car, we should ban cars because people have been known to hit other people with them - particularly after drinking (ties into my restrictor plate comments above).

What our government needs to worry about is how to fix the blasted state economy, get people like this Lanza kid the treatment they need, and not attack law abiding citizens who have LEGALLY OBTAINED a firearm.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 21, 2012  10:28am


@fedup - gun violence in this country has proven that no private citizen, not even those who are “law-abiding” as it were, are trustworthy enough to possess assault weapons or basically any high-capacity firearm. You may have the best of intentions but I’m sorry, possession of any such weapon makes you a danger to anyone and everyone around you. It’s a tough pill to swallow but we’ve learned the lesson. The debate is over about the impact of the policies that have allowed these weapons to proliferate our culture.

posted by: FedUpwithCT | December 21, 2012  1:51pm

@gutbomb, so, you are threatening to take away my bean bag?  The term assault weapon is a pointless term used by the media to describe weapons that look “dangerous” with no CLEAR DEFINITION OF MEANING.  Any person can become proficient at magazine changes.  Heck, with a speed loader, I can reload a revolver (which only holds 6 shots) faster than someone else can exchange a magazine in a Bushmaster.  The number of bullets a gun can hold is immaterial, the size of the magazine is moot.  The root cause (which both sides seem to be ignoring) is the person who perpetrated the crime was deemed (at least by the media) to be mentally unstable.  Why was the Lanza boy not being treated for his illness? 

The root cause of the violence is not the medium that was chosen to perpetrate the violence, it is the peron who carried out the act.  Timothy McVeigh killed more people and never used a gun…  Who was screaming for fertilizer control?  On 9/11, 3 planes were hijacked with BOX CUTTERS!  How many were killed without a shot being fired?  Where is the National Box Cutter Association and why aren’t they outraged that people want to take their box cutters away?  Oh, right, because box cutters aren’t frightening or considered “assault weapons”, nobody wants to control them (note, they aren’t allowed on planes anymore).  No private citizen can be trusted with a firearm…  How many public citizens should be trusted with them?  What about the Air Force girl who drove across country to kill her ex boyfriend’s new girl friend?  I know many people who have been personally (and documented in courts of law) harassed by police who had a gun, so we should inherently trust all public servants (who we pay, btw) to be trustworthy with a firearm? 

In 2010, there were 30,196 people killed in automobile accidents (NTSTA website).  There were 9,369 deaths by firearm, out of 16,799 homicides total (Center for Disease Control website)

You know what, fine, take away high capacity magazines.  The state will go deeper into debt to pay back the legal owners, but that is ok.  I concede the point.  So, we need to install chips in every car/bus/truck/SUV/motorcycle/Ambulance/police car to restrict the top speed to 65 MPH.  I am game, what about you?  I give you your “high capacity magazines” back you accept my restrictor plate/chip driving compromise.  When should we sign the papers?


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