On December 14, 2012, the small community of Newtown, Connecticut became ground zero for gun control laws. On that day, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history (the second-deadliest mass shooting by a single person, after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings).
Connecticut set about passing stronger gun regulations after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. The state enacted bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The law has made its way through court challenges, focusing on both the popularity and the lethality of AR-15 style rifles and the large capacity ammunition magazines. (Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to shoot 154 rounds in less than five minutes. The victims each were shot between 3 and 11 times.)
Connecticut, along with some other states throughout the country, responded in the following months by passing sweeping gun control legislation that expanded the definition of an assault weapon to include the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle modeled after the M16, a modern military weapon. The law also imposed a 10-round limit on magazine size.
Here are the new Connecticut gun control laws, as of 2013:
Assault Weapons Ban
The state's ban on assault weapons, which covered 66 weapons as adopted in 1993, has been increased by at least 100 more that now will meet the expanded definition of the military-style firearm, that the industry refers to as sporting rifles.
Legal owners can keep them in their homes and their businesses and they can use them at the shooting range, but they can't be transported with magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Under the changes, no one has to give up their assault weapons purchased by April 3, but there are restrictions on where they can be used.
The exemptions to the ban allow their sale and possession to the Department of Corrections, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, police departments and state/national military or naval forces for use in their official duties.
Large-Capacity Magazine Ban
Magazines holding more than 10 rounds cannot be sold, purchased or imported into Connecticut as the state joins New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, California, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. in limiting their size and use.
The law does not ban possession of magazines larger than 10 rounds, but, similar to the banned assault weapons, they can only be possessed in a owner's home or place of business and at a shooting range. When they are transported to and from a shooting range, they cannot be loaded with more than 10 bullets.
The exemptions are the same as those for the banned assault weapons.
Universal Background Checks
The sale of all firearms, including the private sale or transfer of long guns (rifles and shotguns) requires the buyer to pass a national criminal background check. Up to now, the private sale of long guns was not regulated and 40 percent of firearms sales across the country did not require a background check.
The seller of long guns, in addition to the background check, has to document the transaction with the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection which must authorize the sale; the gun cannot be loaded when transferred.
Sales of ammunition to anyone under the age of 18 are barred.
Legal Questions About Connecticut's Gun Laws
If you would like to know more about firearm ownership, and help determining which firearms are legal to own, there are many attorneys throughout Connecticut with criminal law experience who may be able to help.
Contact a qualified attorney.