Williams Leads Passage of Comprehensive Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Bill
Williams: Bill a Model for Congress and States to Follow
Calling it ‘model’ for the 49 other states and Congress to follow, Senate President Donald E. Williams (D-Brooklyn) today helped lead senate passage (26-10) of a comprehensive bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety bill designed to increase public safety in the wake of the tragic Newtown shootings.
“The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response—one that transcends politics,” said Senator Williams. “A bill like this could only have come out of Connecticut. We have proven that Democrats and Republicans can work together to produce the strongest and most comprehensive bill in the country that seeks to reduce gun violence, improve access to mental health services and strengthens school security.” This bill should serve not only as a model of bipartisanship but as a model for other states and Congress as they seek decrease future incidents of gun violence.”
In January, legislative leaders announced the formation of a bipartisan task force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. The task force designated three working groups to focus on the three core issues of gun violence prevention, school security and mental health.
In late February, the working groups, which included Democratic committee chairs and Republican ranking members, provided recommendations to Senate and House leadership.
The bill strengthens Connecticut law with regard to firearms in several respects:
- Establishes a first-in-the-nation dangerous weapon offender registry for those convicted of weapons-related offenses.
- Requires “universal background checks” for the sale of all firearms immediately.
- Expands the Connecticut Assault Weapons Ban to include more than 100 new weapons.
- Immediately bans the sale or purchase of large capacity magazines, and imposes extremely stringent restrictions on the use of those currently possessed.
- Requires new state issued eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition.
- The bill bans the sale of armor piercing ammunition, and makes it a class D felony to carry a firearm loaded with any such ammunition.
The bill addresses school security by:
- Establishing the School Safety Infrastructure Council to develop safety standards for school building projects by 2014.
- Reauthorizing the school security infrastructure competitive grant program to reimburse towns for upgrades to school security infrastructure.
- Requiring that school security and safety plans be developed at each Connecticut school.
- Requiring all state and independent colleges and universities in Connecticut to submit their security plan to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
The mental health portion of the bill provides the following:
- Requires the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to administer a mental health first aid training program to teach people to recognize the signs of mental disorders in children and young adults and connect them with services. Allows boards of education to require teachers and other school employees to participate.
- Expands the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program by adding ACT teams to three new locations. The ACT program provides recovery-oriented treatment and support services through a mobile, multi-disciplinary team.
- Adds additional slots for case management and coordination to assist people with mental illness who are involved with the probate system.
- Expands health insurance coverage requirements for various mental health services.
The bill now proceeds to the House of Representatives, where passage is expected later this evening.