Sandy Hook panel urges broader gun control, increased school safety

Prohibiting civilians from owning military-style firearms, requiring all guns to be locked away in homes and stepping up school safety are among the recommendations raised in a 16-page interim report released on Monday by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.

The panel, established by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting massacre, was asked to “review current policy and make specific recommendations in the areas of public safety and mental health policy, with a focus on children and schools.”

Monday’s interim report to Malloy addresses 42 concerns when it comes to preventing gun violence, school safety and emergency planning.

The most notable include the following:

  • Mandatory background checks on the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, at private sales and sales at gun shows.

  • Requiring registration, including a certificate of registration, for any firearm. This certificate should be issued after the completion of a background check and is separate and distinct from a permit to carry.

  • 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. The commission recognizes that certain sporting events may at times seek to use higher-capacity magazines; however, the consensus of the commission is that the spirit of sportsmanship can be maintained with lower-capacity magazines.

  • Limiting the amount of ammunition that may be purchased at any given time.

  • Prohibiting the possession, sale or transfer of any firearm capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading. This prohibition would extend to military-style firearms as well as handguns. Law enforcement and military would be exempt from this ban.

  • Requiring that trigger locks be provided at the time of sale or transfer of any firearm.

  • Requiring that the state of Connecticut develop and update a “best practices” manual and require that all firearms in a home be stored in a locked container and adhere to these best practices; with current minimum standards featuring a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety (including biometric) device when they are not under the owner's direct control or supervision. The owner should also be directly responsible for securing any key used to gain access to the locked container.

  • Requiring that all classrooms in K-12 schools be equipped with doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher or substitute. These doors should also be compliant with building code, fire safety code and other regulations as required.

  • Encouraging the deployment of enhanced Wi-Fi in schools and the usage of IP-enabled cameras (to support response capacity). Special attention should be given to perimeter surveillance and areas of assembly.

  • Establishing a best practices guide for effective bullying and threat identification, prevention and response to be made available to all schools.

“I realize that you may agree with some of our interim recommendations, and disagree with others,” wrote Scott Jackson, Hamden mayor and chair of the 12-person committee. “In any case, I am grateful for your support for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission as we examine policies and issues that require extensive deliberation, and for allowing us to take the time to incorporate a variety of perspectives.”

The group stressed that its work is far from over.

“This Commission recognizes that there will be issues upon which there may be great controversy and upon which there are fundamental differences in opinion; yet members believe in light of the charge issued by Governor Malloy, it is the responsibility of the Commission to submit findings and recommendations in all areas of its charge,” it wrote.

The commission said it postponed addressing mental health issues in the interim report because it needs more time to consider vast amounts of research and expert input.

Sandy Hook Interim Safety Report