On gun control, Washington should follow Connecticut's lead

As the collective shock and horror of continued mass shooting of innocents ripple across the country, the agony of loved ones left to suffer these devastating losses is profound and cuts so deep that the pain can never go away.

Connecticut is once again reminded of its own horrific event on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

A stunned public learned that 26 young children and adults were killed by a mentally ill person with access to legally purchased weapons and unrestricted access to the school. Legislators from both sides of the aisle immediately took strong measures to address this horrific tragedy. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who represented Newtown and its people, along with top leadership led a bipartisan effort to make groundbreaking changes to Connecticut gun laws. They formed a committee with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Co-chairs of the gun, school security and mental health reform bill-writing subcommittees, of which I was one, held extensive public hearings.

The end result was one of the toughest gun laws in the country including expansion of Connecticut’s assault weapons ban, regulating long guns, background checks for all gun sales, magazine capacity limits, ammunition restrictions, safe gun storage, school security plans, building safety upgrades and increasing mental health services.

In subsequent years, other bills such as gun restraining order and a bump stock ban were also passed in a bipartisan manner. Congress should take a long hard look at these measures.

Those charged with the responsibility of making the changes needed to help reduce the violence in our society have to stop the political grand-standing, partisan bickering and finger pointing. They should deal with gun regulation head-on, no matter the opposition, as we did in 2013 after Sandy Hook.

Toni Boucher is a Connecticut businesswoman and a former state senator and state representative. She lives in Wilton.

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