On Monday both the state House and state Senate voted on a bill that would make lower-powered .22 caliber rifles illegal once again, provided they take detachable ammunition magazines and feature two characteristics of an assault weapon, such as a pistol grip, a folding stock or a clip for a bayonet. The bill passed both chambers by a wide margin, 131-15 in the House and 33-1 in the Senate.
The bill also expands the list of enforcement officers who can legally own and buy the restricted firearms, as well as allowing them to keep the guns after their term of service ends. It also allows dealers of antique firearms and gun manufacturers to have rifles that would otherwise be banned in the state.
Daniel Malloy, the state’s Democratic governor and a strong gun control advocate, is widely expected to sign the bill into law.
Connecticut’s original restrictions, which became law back in April, kept the state’s 20-year-old assault weapons ban but neglected to include the rimfire weapons ban. They were passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
In trying to appease those who opposed the bill, supporters of the new legislation also stated that it would allow gun-manufacturing companies like Stag Arms to produce the .22 caliber weapons legally if they are made with a pistol grip design.
“It is vitally important to the gun manufacturers so they know what they can and cannot do,” House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr. (R-Norwalk) told the The Connecticut Post.
Cafero also stated that it was essential to protect the rights of legal gun owners who had made purchases in the period between when the weapon was legalized in April and made illegal again on Monday. Gun owners will still have to register their guns that were made illegal under the new law with state public officials.
Rep. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) also told The Connecticut Post that the bill was important to “make a distinction between low-power and high-power” and that “we may not have been as clear as we should have been” on the gun reforms passed in April.