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Gun owners pinned down in Connecticut

Published December 29. 2013 4:00AM

Saddled by what they feel are the most restrictive weapons laws in the nation, some Connecticut gun owners are champing at the bit for next year's gubernatorial election, when they hope to put in office someone whose views of the Second Amendment are more closely aligned with their own.

There's just one problem, as The Connecticut Mirror, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news website reported last week: None of the leading candidates, especially Democratic incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, appears likely to support overturning the state's strict controls over the purchase of guns, ammunition and large-capacity magazines.

After all, the governor himself championed the new restrictions and became one of the most visible and ardent advocates for tough gun legislation after the December 2012 shooting massacre at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School left 20 youngsters and six adults dead.

One of Mr. Malloy's best-known declared challengers is Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney of Fairfield, a Republican who not only voted in favor of the gun law but helped steer it through the legislature.

Another GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton, likewise voted for the bill, while Danbury's Republican mayor, Mark Boughton, also mentioned as a challenger to Mr. Malloy, has jumped on New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's bandwagon, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Tom Foley, defeated in 2010 and expected to seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination again, has offered only tepid criticism of the gun law that Gov. Malloy signed on April 4, and makes no promise to push for repeal, according to CT Mirror.

These positions may be bad news for misguided gun owners, but they should be embraced by all reasonable citizens who object to the sale of such malevolent weapons as the AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook rampage, and who rightfully demand stricter background checks on those who seek permits to buy handguns.

Gun-rights advocates insist on calling such high-powered, rapid-fire weapons as the AR-15 sporting rifles, but this is specious. Mr. Lanza fired off 154 rounds in less than five minutes with his "sporting" AR-15 Bushmaster before shooting himself with a Glock 20 semiautomatic handgun that had belonged to his mother, Nancy. Before driving to the school Mr. Lanza killed his mother with a Savage Mark II .22-caliber rifle.

You can read all the gory details in the state's report on the tragedy, finally released on Friday.

The new law restricts the sale of new AR-15s in Connecticut and 100 other weapons, but does not make existing ones illegal, a compromise, of sorts.

Lawmakers also "compromised" by agreeing to reduce the capacity of magazines similar to those used by Lanza from 30 to 10 bullets.

This newspaper has long championed tight but reasonable restrictions on the sale, ownership and operation of weapons, and sees no conflict in this position with the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This nation's forefathers may not have conceived a weapon so destructive as an AR-15, but they recognized that it was necessary for the security of a free state not to infringe on citizens' rights to keep and bear arms, as part of "a well regulated militia."

Connecticut's new law includes more stringent limits on gun permits for people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, as well as those who voluntarily seek such treatment.

There is now a five-year wait for a permit, up from a year, after a person has been treated involuntarily at such a facility, while those voluntarily seeking treatment can't get a permit for six months.

Responsible gun owners should welcome reasonable regulations instead of reacting knee-jerk against any effort to control such horrendous tragedies as Sandy Hook. The public supports such controls, and Connecticut politicians must realize that repealing the much-needed legislation would be like shooting themselves in the foot - or worse.

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