State as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral talks gun laws

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Hannah Dellinger

The re­cent shoot­ing death of a Stam­ford teenager was on the minds of many of those who gathered in Green­wich to hear Con­necti­cut’s as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral speak about le­gal chal­lenges to gun safety leg­is­la­tion.

“We’re tired and frus­trated with the cy­cle of shoot­ings, fol­lowed by thoughts and prayers, fol­lowed by in­ac­tion,” said Jen Barro, group leader of the re­cently formed Green­wich chap­ter of Moms De­mand Ac­tion, af­ter ref­er­enc­ing the mur­der of 16-year-old Mar­cus Hall. “I think we owe it to our com­mu­nity to change our cul­ture and im­prove our gun laws.”

The death of Hall — the sec­ond fa­tal shoot­ing of a teen in Stam­ford’s West Side neigh­bor­hood in the past sev­eral months — wasn’t the only tragedy that pro­pelled the crowd to ac­tion.

Many of the dozen or so peo­ple who at­tended the Thurs­day night event, or­ga­nized by Moms De­mand Ac­tion and held at the YWCA Green­wich, in­di­cated they had been di­rectly af­fected by gun vi­o­lence and most said they knew some­one who had been.

Con­necti­cut As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Maura Mur­phy Os­borne de­tailed the ori­gin story of Pub­lic Act 13-3, leg­is­la­tion passed by Con­necti­cut’s Leg­is­la­ture shortly af­ter the shoot­ings at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School in 2012. She re­called her fight in the U.S. Supreme Court to save it.

“We’re proud of a lot of the laws our of­fice has de­fended,” Mur­phy Os­borne said. “But we are es­pe­cially proud of the post-Sandy Hook gun laws we saved.”

The law ex­panded the state’s ban on as­sault-style weapons and im­ple­mented a ban on high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines. It also strength­ened gun seizure laws and men­tal health pro­vi­sions.

In Shew v. Malloy, the plain­tiff, June Shew, claimed her Sec­ond Amend­ment rights were sti­fled by the law by pre­vent­ing her from buy­ing an AR-15.

In the case, Mur­phy Os­borne ar­gued the Con­sti­tu­tion doesn’t af­ford the pub­lic the right to own ex­tremely dan­ger­ous types of firearm. She drew on An­tonin Scalia’s opin­ion in the land­mark case Dis­trict of Columbia v. Heller, which said though in­di­vid­u­als do have the right to bear weapons that are com­monly used, that right is not ex­tended to all weapons.

Mur­phy Os­borne said she demon­strated through ex­pert tes­ti­mony that as­sault ri­fles like the AR-15 are es­sen­tially as deadly as weapons of war.

“The Sandy Hook shooter went in with an AR-15 and had 10 30-round mag­a­zines and a Glock pis­tol with a 17-round mag­a­zine. In un­der five min­utes, he fired 154 bul­lets,” she said. “For prac­ti­cal pur­poses, an AR-15 op­er­ates in much the same man­ner as an M16.”

Pub­lic Act 13-3 with­stood the fed­eral chal­lenge, but its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity is still be­ing de­cided by the state Supreme Court.

“We’ve lit­i­gated it, and we’re hop­ing for a fa­vor­able de­ci­sion on that in the near fu­ture,” Mur­phy Os­borne said.

Though the state’s gun laws are in “good shape,” Mur­phy Os­borne said, she pointed to some de­vel­op­ing na­tional is­sues.

“A ma­jor ques­tion is: Do peo­ple have the right to carry a firearm out­side of their home?” she said. “Con­necti­cut does not re­strict carry as long as it’s a suit­able per­son. But fed­eral courts all over the coun­try are all say­ing dif­fer­ent things. It will go to the Supreme Court in the fu­ture, most likely.”

“Ghost guns” are an­other emerg­ing le­gal is­sue, she said. The term refers to home­made or 3-D printed guns.

Few stud­ies have been done on gun vi­o­lence in Amer­ica, Mur­phy Os­borne said, so it’s dif­fi­cult to mea­sure its true im­pact on so­ci­ety.

“Congress passed a law 20 years ago that pro­hibits the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol from us­ing any fund­ing to study gun vi­o­lence,” she said.

A fo­cus on the midterms

Barro told the group Moms De­mand Ac­tion is fo­cus­ing its ef­forts for the first time on sup­port­ing po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates who pledge to sup­port gun safety laws.

“This year, for the first time, (Moms De­mand Ac­tion’s um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion) Every­town is award­ing the ‘Gun Sense Can­di­date Dis­tinc­tion’ for can­di­dates that have pledged to vote on the side of gun safety,” she said.

There are 97 can­di­dates in Con­necti­cut who earned the dis­tinc­tion, Barro said.

Mur­phy Os­borne

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.