Connecticut lawmakers have approved gun control measures, which campaigners say are the strictest in America, following December Sandy Hook massacre.
The new restrictions include a ban on new high-capacity magazines and background checks on all gun buyers.
President Barack Obama and gun control advocates say the measures are needed to curb an epidemic of gun violence.
Connecticut lawmakers have approved gun control measures, which campaigners say are the strictest in America, following December Sandy Hook massacre
In December 2012, gunman Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut, killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Gun rights groups argue the legislation – which was approved by both the senate and lower house in Connecticut – would not have prevented the Newtown school shooting.
Connecticut assembly passed the legislation after more than 13 hours of debate.
In Washington, the US Congress is set to debate new gun control legislation this month.
Gun control in Connecticut became a predominant political issue after 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook primary school with a high-powered rifle legally purchased by his mother – whom he also killed.
The killings also reignited national debate on gun control, and led to President Barack Obama making gun safety one of the defining issues of his second term, which started a month after the shooting.
Barack Obama plans to visit Connecticut on April 8 as his proposed gun control measures in Congress appear to have stalled. Correspondents say the president will use it to increase pressure on lawmakers in Washington.
Gun control measures passed by Connecticut on April 4 include:
- an expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban
- background checks for all prospective firearms purchasers, including in private transactions
- a ban on the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds
- a registry of weapons offenders
- a state eligibility certificate to purchase a rifle or shotgun that involves a psychiatric commitment check
“This is a new and historic model for the country on an issue that has typically been the most controversial and divisive,” Connecticut Senate President Donald Williams was quoted by local media as saying at the end of a 6-hour debate in the lower house on Thursday morning.
The approval of the bill by both houses of the Connecticut assembly came after weeks of negotiations between Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, who said they were determined to produce a bipartisan bill in response to the tragedy.
Children from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 26 people last month, are to start the new term at what police say is the US’s “safest school”.
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown has been closed since Adam Lanza killed 20 pupils and six staff on December 14.
Chalk Hill, a disused middle school in nearby Monroe, has been renovated by an 80-strong team and renamed Sandy Hook.
The use of furniture from Sandy Hook had turned it into “a very cheerful elementary school”, officials said.
Extra security measures were being taken at the new school, such as stopping every vehicle that entered the school grounds, said Monroe Police Department’s Lieutenant Keith White.
“I think right now it has to be the safest school in America,” he said.
Children from Sandy Hook Elementary School are to start the new term at Chalk Hill, a disused middle school in nearby Monroe
Acting Principal Donna Page, who has replaced the slain school head Dawn Hochsprung, wrote to parents of pupils that the school was “safe, secure and fully operational”.
Parents would be allowed to stay in the school during class-time on Thursday to reassure their children, she added.
“That being said, we encourage students to take the bus to school in order to help them return to familiar routines as soon as possible,” she wrote.
Adam Lanza, 20, carried out the attack after killing his mother, the legal owner of the weapons, which included a semi-automatic rifle.
He later shot himself, and was reportedly buried over the weekend after his father, a tax executive, retrieved his body from the authorities last week.
The shooting revived fierce debate over America’s controversial gun control laws, with some pro-gun politicians saying it had prompted them to change their views on the issue.
The Obama administration has indicated it will look for ways to tighten gun laws, and President Barack Obama has given his deputy, Joe Biden, the task of establishing a set of “concrete proposals” within weeks.
Barack Obama has said he would support reinstating an assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004.
The White House has also suggested the president would back other gun control measures on high-capacity ammunition clips as well as closing loopholes that allow people to buy guns without background checks.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful US lobbying group, argues against more regulation, saying teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.
President Barack Obama wants to reinstate an assault weapons ban in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut, his spokesman Jay Carney announced today.
Jay Carney said the president was “actively supportive” of a Democratic senator’s plan to introduce a bill on the first day of the next Congress.
Barack Obama would also consider curbs on high-capacity ammunition and loopholes, Jay Carney said.
Gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults in Friday’s attack.
Barack Obama has previously stated his support for the reintroduction of an assault weapons ban, which lapsed in 2004.
But he has not backed a specific move to do so before now.
“He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator [Dianne] Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama wants to reinstate an assault weapons ban in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut
The White House press secretary added that Barack Obama was also supportive of other gun legislation, including on high-capacity ammunition clips and against a loophole that allows for gun purchases at gun shows.
Senator Dianne Feinstein told reporters she would introduce the legislation when the new Congress met for the first time in January.
Correspondents say that Democrats are now less reluctant to pursue gun control legislation than before.
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama expressed support for the ban on assault weapons during one of three televised debates against Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theatres don’t belong on our streets,” Barack Obama said in the second debate on October 16.
“And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced.”