One-bullet limit would do more harm than good
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02
Already a major political issue among many, the horrific tragedy in Newtown has driven gun policy to the center stage in our state. Citizens, advocates and lawmakers are looking for ways to change our laws to prevent that terrible day from being repeated. A wide range of bills have already been introduced in Hartford, and the way the political winds are blowing, it's nearly certain that something will become law.
Of the many bills currently under consideration, it's difficult to tell which, if any, would be an improvement over our current policies. However, there is one bill that stands out among the others as one that would do much more harm than good. That is Proposed Bill 122, a proposal by State Senator Ed Meyer to ban all guns that can fire more than one bullet without reloading.
Typically this is when I would summarize the bill for readers, but as it is just a proposal and has not yet been translated into legalese, it's incredibly short. Senator Meyer proposes, “That the general statutes be amended to establish a class C felony offense, except for certain military and law enforcement personnel and certain gun clubs, for (1) any person or organization to purchase, sell, donate, transport, possess or use any gun except one made to fire a single round, (2) any person to fire a gun containing more than a single round, (3) any person or organization to receive from another state, territory or country a gun made to fire multiple rounds, or (4) any person or organization to purchase, sell, donate or possess a magazine or clip capable of holding more than one round.”
If passed, this would make it illegal for anyone to own or use a gun that can fire more than once without reloading. This would include nearly every gun currently in the state, as a vast majority of firearms for hunting, sporting, and self-defense are capable of holding multiple rounds. Limiting guns to one round would make them incredibly ineffective for all three of these major uses.
Hunting may not be as widespread in Connecticut as in many other states, but there is still a substantial population of deer and duck hunters. While it is typically possible to kill a deer with one bullet, many duck hunters prefer to use double-barrelled shotguns while hunting. Meyer's bill would make double-barrelled shotguns illegal.
Sport shooting is actually quite common in Connecticut, and dozens of gun clubs exist across the state. Using guns that can fire multiple shots is standard in shooting competitions, ranging from the local level to the Olympics. This bill includes an exemption for “certain gun clubs,” but according to a Madison Patch interview with Meyer, the bill's exemption would require “First, that they [gun clubs] register the magazines with a division of the Connecticut state police. And, second, that the magazines are maintained solely on gun club property under secure conditions.” While better than a complete ban, these strict regulations would prevent individual sport shooters from owning their own guns, instead requiring them to borrow guns from a club. As any serious athlete will tell you, it's much better to have your own customized equipment than to rely on borrowing it from the venue you're competing at.
Finally, and most importantly, this bill would make guns nearly useless for self-defense. Victims of muggings, home invasions, or other crimes may not be able to disable their attacker with only one shot. Single-shot guns would be even less effective in a situation with more than one attacker. And, of course, criminals will not turn in their weapons even if this law is passed, allowing them to easily overpower any potential victim.
There are a wide variety of gun control bills being debated in the state legislature, including strengthening requirements for background checks, requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance, limiting ammunition capacity, and banning assault-style weapons. With an issue as complex as gun violence, it's tough to tell which, if any, will help make our communities safer, and at what cost – but it is clear that Proposed Bill 122 would do more harm than good.
*Editor's Note: This article was originally published Tuesday, January 29 but did not upload properly to the website. We fixed the error on a later date.