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Connecticut Gov. Lamont signs gun control legislation

The measure is expected to be challenged in court.

June 7, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: June 7, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a sweeping gun control law that bans open carry of firearms and further tightens the state's existing restrictions on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The Democratic-led measure, signed by Lamont on Tuesday, limits handgun purchases to three per month, raises the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 and regulates the sale of body armor to civilians, among other provisions.

Lamont said the tough new restrictions are a "common sense approach" to preventing mass shootings, firearm-related accidents and suicides and other gun violence.

"Over the years, Connecticut has shown time and again that we can improve public safety by implementing reasonable gun violence prevention laws while also respecting the rights of Americans to own guns for their own protection and sportsmanship," Lamont said. "This bill that I’ve signed continues that fair, commonsense balance."

Lamont touted the changes as the most comprehensive overhaul of gun safety laws since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings when a lone gunman killed 20 children and six educators.

He said federal and state gun control laws passed in the wake of Sandy Hook haven't kept up with the "innovative ways firearm companies are manufacturing guns, especially those that are being designed with the sole intention of killing the largest number of people possible in the shortest amount of time."

A provision of the new law updates the state’s 2019 ban on unregistered “ghost guns” to include those assembled prior to that ban's enactment. Those firearms must be registered with the state by Jan. 1, 2024.

"Our country still needs strong federal laws on firearm safety and gun violence prevention with the breadth to impact every state," Lamont said. "The inaction of Congress on critical legislation to keep Americans safe requires each state to act individually."

The measure is expected to be challenged in court by Second Amendment groups who argue the restrictions violate the constitutional right to carry firearms.

Connecticut is already fighting a legal challenge over its 1994 "assault weapons" ban, with groups seeking to overturn a prohibition on what they call "modern sporting arms," such as AR-15 long rifles.

The lawsuits were filed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case, which struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a firearm.

The Firearms Policy Coalition said the new gun control measure signed by "attacks the core fundamental and constitutional rights" of lawful gun owners in the state and pledged to challenge the new restrictions in court.

"The measure seeks to create criminal liability for the mere exercise of a fundamental right, doubling down on a slate of immoral and dangerous laws running the gamut from keeping, bearing, acquiring, building and possessing protected arms," the Las Vegas-based group said in a statement.

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