HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The end of the national ban on assault weapons will leave
Connecticut as one of seven states where those guns will remain illegal.
And gun rights advocates don't expect that to change soon.
"Nothing is going to change here in Connecticut and I don't perceive anybody
going after the legislature in trying to get rid of the law this year,"
said Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.
"Maybe next year, maybe the year after, we'll make an effort to get rid
of it," Crook said.
Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only two New England states with an assault
weapons ban on place.
The 1994 federal ban, signed by President Clinton, outlawed 19 types of military-style
assault weapons. A clause directed that the ban expire unless Congress specifically
reauthorized it, which it did not.
Connecticut passed its own law in 1993. It defined assault weapons and listed
semiautomatic firearms that were illegal to sell, transport or possess in the
state. It banned future sales of 63 types of military style weapons. The state
law also banned someone from using a combination of parts to convert a firearm
into an assault weapon.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Connecticut lawmakers need to renew
their resolve to support the state ban.
"Our state must now commit to continued, even stronger enforcement of
our assault weapons ban," Blumenthal said. "We can no longer count
on our federal agencies to assist us."
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., was among those members of Congress who wanted
the federal ban reauthorized.
"Right now we have the Federal government recalling the Super Soaker toy
gun at the same time we are within hours of letting assault weapons back on
our streets," said DeLauro, during a news conference on Capitol Hill. "The
mere notion that we would again legalize these guns is outrageous."
State Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-West Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary
Committee, who helped write the 1993 state legislation, criticized President
Bush and Congress for not renewing the ban. He said they should be working to
strengthen the law and make it permanent.
"These weapons serve no legitimate civilian or hunting purpose and Connecticut
did the right thing by implementing its own law," Lawlor said.
But Crook said the Connecticut law has had little effect, and has been a burden
for police. Crook said there have only been about a dozen prosecutions since
1993, resulting in two convictions. He credits the reduction of gang activity,
not the state ban, with the reduction of assault weapon use on Connecticut's
Some manufacturers of assault weapons have made cosmetic changes to their guns
and were able to circumvent the ban, he said.
Crook said the state ban has mostly been "an affront" to the intelligence
of gun owners, some of whom like to collect assault weapons or use semiautomatic
firearms for target shooting.
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"It precludes him from buying an item that he wants," Crook said.
"Some people compare it to - you can buy a Ford, but you can't buy a Corvette."