Gun laws in question after Newtown shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) -- The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary marks the fourth mass shooting that's happened since President Obama took office.

Sunday night, he told the crowd at Newtown High School, where an interfaith service was held, that we can't tolerate tragedies like this anymore and changes have to be made.

"We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true," President Obama said. "No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."

Connecticut has changed its laws several times in reaction to mass murders, here in Connecticut and around the country.

Just like after the Cheshire home invasion, we can expect another investigation into existing laws here in Connecticut.
    
However, there are at least two laws already on the books designed to help prevent this type of atrocity, but they didn't work.   

Nineteen years ago, pro-gun control Governor Lowell Weicker signed into law one of the first assault weapon bans in the nation.

"This is a vote for our children," Weicker said, "and against the NRA."

The gun, widely reported as the weapon used by the Sandy Hook School shooter is a "Bushmaster AR-15." Some reports say it is the number one selling rifle in the nation, sources also say that manufacturers modify the weapon to get around Connecticut's law. Although an advertisement says it is not available in Connecticut.

Still unanswered by the State Police is if the shooter's weapon is one that is allowed under Connecticut's Assault Weapons Ban.
        
Fifteen years ago, a mass workplace shooting at the Connecticut Lottery took the lives of four supervisors at the agency. A disgruntled staff member with a history of mental issues shot his four bosses, chasing one down in the parking lot, and then killed himself.
        
It was later discovered that the shooter, Matthew Beck, who had just returned from a disability leave for mental issues, had previously attempted suicide and his house was loaded with guns.

After struggling with the constitutional issues for two years, the state legislature finally passed what is still the nation's first gun seizure law. It allows people to report someone if they think they are capable of that kind of violent act.

Former State Rep. Mike Lawlor helped write the law, and records show that it has been used to seize guns over 300 times over the past 10 years.

"If you read some of these affidavits you can see there's truckloads of guns being taken out of people's homes," Lawlor said, "there's clear evidence they were about to do something and some of them may very well have been planning to do some kind of suicide attack like we've seen many times."

While this law has had some success, it doesn't always work. Many people still don't know it's on the books.
       
The Hartford Distributors shooting in August of 2010 is a perfect example; a disgruntled employee who had guns and apparently made threatening remarks about shooting people was never reported, and he went to work, shot and killed eight people before killing himself.

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Connecticut (change)

 
Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state. Connecticut is the 5th of the original thirteen United States.
 
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Governor: Dan Malloy
Lieutenant Governor: Nancy Wyman
Attorney General: George Jepsen
State Treasurer: Denise L. Nappier

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