Christine Stuart file photo

After more than 40 hours of expert testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued an interim report that includes a controversial recommendation to ban high-capacity magazines with 10 or more bullets and guns that can shoot them.

The commission recommended “Instituting a ban on the sale, possession, or use of any magazine or ammunition feeding device in excess of 10 rounds except for military and police use.”

According to the report, the commission recognized that certain sporting events may at times seek to utilize higher capacity magazines. However, the consensus of the commission was that the spirit of sportsmanship can be maintained with lower capacity magazines.

The 16-member commission was convened by the Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as a response to the Dec. 14 shooting that claimed the lives of 20 first graders and six adults. Its recommendations include banning guns which are capable of shooting more than 10 bullets at a time.

Some of the draft recommendations the group approved go further than the proposals being discussed by either the governor or the legislature.

“As you know, I have proposed and the General Assembly is considering a set of strong, common sense measures that include universal background checks, stricter firearm storage requirements, restrictions on the size of magazines, and a total ban on the sale or purchase of many dangerous weapons, including the weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre,” Malloy said in a statement. “While I do not advocate a retroactive ban on the possession of firearms that are legally owned under current law, there are residents of our state who support such measures, and their views, along with the views of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, have a place in this conversation.”

While Malloy supports a ban on high-capacity magazines, legislative leaders seem to be leaning away from the measure.

Last week, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, called out legislative leaders for allegedly waffling on the issue behind closed doors.

According to the group, legislative leaders are discussing “grandfathering” existing high capacity ammunition magazines. The group sent a letter to lawmakers calling anything short of a complete ban “intolerable.” The press release included a letter citing legal precedent for taking property.

Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said the measure to ban guns that accept 10 round magazines turns all “semi-automatic hand guns into paperweights.” He said they didn’t distinguish between tubular magazines or detachable magazines either, which means they’re “essentially banning all guns.”

“It bothers me governor’s task force didn’t include any firearm experts,” Crook said.

Meanwhile, the Sandy Hook Commission also recommended mandatory background checks for the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, at private sales and gun shows. It recommended regular renewal of firearm permits, including a test of firearm handling capacity as well as an understanding of applicable laws and regulations.

“The commission has found that firearms of significant lethality can be legally obtained without permit and without registration,” the report states. “According to the Connecticut State Police, there are approximately 1.4 million registered firearms in the State of Connecticut, and possibly up to 2 million unregistered firearms.”

Legislative leaders will meet again today to see if they can reach consensus on an emergency certified bill upon which the General Assembly can vote in the near future. 

The commission’s recommendations are based on the hearings that have focused on school security, gun violence prevention, emergency management planning and response, and school crisis response. The commission, which has not discharged its duties just yet, will continue meeting Friday, March 22, to begin tackling the state’s mental health delivery system.

“I appreciate and look forward to seeing the results of the commission’s continued work,” Malloy concluded. “They must still examine some very tough but very critical issues, including mental health. Making Connecticut a safer state will take comprehensive reforms, and I believe the commission, under the management of Scott Jackson, will produce a road map to achieving that goal.”

On the school safety front, the commission recommending that all classrooms in K-12 schools be equipped with locking doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher or substitute. It also recommended requiring that all exterior doors in K-12 schools be equipped with hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.