Despite this week's school shooting in Nashville, Sen. Chris Murphy said Friday that a new national gun law is saving lives – and will prevent future mass shootings.
Murphy brokered the historic deal with Republicans after last year's shooting that killed 21 people at a school in Uvalde, Texas. The Safer Communities Act was the first major gun control bill to pass Congress in decades.
"This is a very good start," said Murphy. "Finally, we have the ability to use federal law to go after these gun traffickers who've been bringing guns to our state."
Police say Connecticut is flooded with illegal weapons, despite some of the nation’s strictest gun laws. Last month, Stamford police seized three guns in just four days
"Three guns in four days is the most we've ever had in the seven-year history of the program," said Sgt. Sean Scanlan with Stamford Police.
Police say most criminals get guns from other states, where laws are much looser.
"Gun traffickers buy weapons in the black market – in, you know, South Carolina or Georgia or Ohio – and then they traffic them to Connecticut," said Murphy.
Safer Communities Act is slowing the flow of illegal firearms. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the new law has already led to 30 gun trafficking arrests, seized 200 illegal weapons and stopped 119 at-risk young people from buying guns.
Murphy believes it could also prevent shootings like Nashville, by offer states financial incentives to pass "red flag" laws to remove guns from people deemed dangerous. States just received their money in February, and many are deciding how to use it right now.
Connecticut passed the nation’s first "red flag" law in 1999, after a mass shooting at Connecticut Lottery headquarters. Recently it was expanded
to let families get a risk protection order directly from a judge, instead of going through police or a prosecutor.
The change has resulted in a massive application spike. In just the first 10 weeks of 2023, judges approved 142% more protection orders than all of 2021, according to testimony
from the state Judicial Branch. Court administrators said Connecticut is on track to issue 3,000 protection orders this year.
"Between 2018 and 2022, we had almost 500 calls – just in Darien alone -- for crisis-related initiatives, which is a marked increase over what we saw years ago," said Darien police chief Don Anderson.
One day after the Nashville shooting, the legislature’s Judiciary Committee advanced
Gov. Ned Lamont’s sweeping gun control package. But critics say it punishes gun owners who follow Connecticut’s gun laws, not criminals who obtain weapons from out-of-state.
"That is not directed at the people who actually commit crimes in this state," said state Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-Chaplin). "It's directed specifically at the people who don't."