AR-15s and similar rifles are banned in Connecticut by name and characteristics, but these weapons are outside the ban. A proposed law would tighten loopholes. Connecticut State Police

Compiled by Madeline Papcun.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of CT Mirror’s Spanish-language news coverage developed in partnership with Identidad Latina Multimedia.

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On June 6, Gov. Ned Lamont signed into law the first comprehensive update of Connecticut’s gun laws since the sweeping reforms enacted a decade ago in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

House Bill 6667, An Act Addressing Gun Violence, was proposed by Lamont and expanded to include measures sought by urban mayors.

What changes does the law make to Connecticut’s gun policies? Here’s what to know.

The bill updates several aspects of CT’s existing gun laws.

H.B. 6667 bans the open carry of firearms and strengthens rules for gun storage and reporting stolen firearms. It also expands a ban on AR-15s and other so-called assault weapons passed in 1993 and updated in 2013.

AR-15s purchased prior to the bans still can be legally owned, if registered with the police. But the new law closed what proponents called a loophole that allowed the legal sale of now-banned weapons if manufactured prior to 1994.

The legislation also further tightens restrictions on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines that were largely banned after the Sandy Hook school shooting. 

Additionally, the bill regulates the sale of body armor to civilians, generally limits the sale of handguns to three in any one month, increases training requirements for gun permit holders, and raises the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21, the same threshold as handguns.

The bill also bans the online sale of kits used to assemble “ghost guns,” firearms that have no serial number and are largely untraceable.

The bill was largely approved along party lines.

House Bill 6667 cleared the House on a vote of 96-51, with seven Republicans in favor and five Democrats opposed. In the Senate, Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, joined 23 Democrats in favor. One Democrat, Sen. Cathy Osten of Sprague, did not vote.

A group of Democratic mayors urged certain provisions.

The measure incorporates elements of a tougher approach to gun crimes urged by the Democratic mayors of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, where 80% of all shootings occur in Connecticut.

At the mayors’ request, the bill would target what they described as a relatively small cohort of repeat gun offenders with dedicated court dockets, higher thresholds for bail and probation, and tougher penalties.

Supporters pointed to research showing the effectiveness of gun safety laws.

Democratic supporters of HB 6667 have argued it was a data-driven, public health measure, and said a growing body of research shows that the states with the strongest gun safety laws have the lowest rates of suicides and murders by firearms. The majority of gun death are suicides.

Opponents said the bill is too focused on guns, not the individuals that misuse them.

Republican opponents argued the Connecticut General Assembly is too focused on law-abiding gun owners and the mass shootings that generate headlines and not enough on more commonplace gun crimes: Street shootings with illegal handguns, often involving shooters and victims with criminal backgrounds.

H.B. 6667 could face legal challenges.

Even before final passage, the bill has survived one legal challenge — a request for a temporary restraining order sought by gun owners, which was rejected by a federal judge. Others are expected.

Connecticut’s gun laws have survived repeated legal challenges, whether brought in state or federal court.

Connecticut’s gun legislation is strict compared to other states.

Connecticut has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the U.S., with universal background checks to purchase a firearm or ammunition and the nation’s earliest risk warrant law allowing the seizure of guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. 

The state has the fifth-lowest per-capita rate of gun suicides after Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Hawaii.

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