Task Force Established To Look Into Ways To Reduce Gun Violence

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – In Connecticut, lawmakers are working to close loopholes in the state’s gun laws.

A bipartisan task force has been established to look into possible legislation to prevent future gun violence, provide mental health care and improve school safety.

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The panel could issue a comprehensive proposal by the end of next month, according to a state senate leader.

The panel was established a month after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 first graders and six adults dead.

One item already under consideration in the Connecticut legislature is a strengthening of the laws already on the books.

The state already has a ban on assault weapons, but the Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle used in the Newtown school shooting rampage was legal.

When the state’s assault weapons ban was implemented, gun manufacturers worked to tweak the weapons in order to skirt the definition of ‘assault weapon.’

State House Republican leader Larry Cafero said this is the kind of legal loophole that has to be wiped off the books if public safety in Connecticut is to come first.

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“What I’m suggesting to do is simply look to how the weapon is loaded. And that is, if it’s loaded by an external magazine then we should have the same kind of permitting that we have with a handgun,” Cafero told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

That additional permitting requires an extensive background check that includes a safety course, fingerprinting and a three- to five-month waiting period.

Newtown shooter Adam Lanza used the rifle, which authorities said was purchased legally by Lanza’s mother.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voiced confidence that a sweeping gun reform deal can be reached.

Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, noting that “the eyes of the country” are on Connecticut, said lawmakers need to craft a comprehensive, thoughtful, bipartisan plan.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican from Fairfield, said there seems to be a “genuine interest in working together” on gun control.

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