The death rate from firearms in Connecticut is fifth lowest in the nation, according to data compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  The state follows Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Hawaii.  Connecticut’s 4.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, is slightly higher than Massachusetts’ nation-lowest 3.4 deaths.  And now Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markley is urging other states to follow the Bay State’s lead, and seeking federal funds as incentive for the changes.

Markey’s newly introduced bill would allocate $20 million in Department of Justice grants each year for the next five years to states that adopt laws like those in Massachusetts, according to published reports.  Perhaps best known is the state’s ban on assault weapons, signed in 2004 by Gov. Mitt Romney, now a candidate for U.S. Senate in Utah. The state also requires gun dealers to conduct background checks, mandates private sellers to verify that buyers have a valid gun license, bans “mentally defective” people from owning firearms, and requires weapons to be unloaded and locked away when not in use.

Last year, Massachusetts became the first state to ban rapid-firing bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting. At least 15 states – including Connecticut – are currently considering similar bans, and several others have tightened up restrictions already in place, Governing magazine recently reported.

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy has repeatedly called for a ban on bump stocks in Connecticut, and the matter is currently before the state legislature.  The bill was subject of a lengthy public hearing last week at the State Capitol complex.

Connecticut is also one of only five states – including Massachusetts – that gives police chiefs the authority to deny, suspend or revoke licenses for handguns and long guns. This aspect of the law has been cited as being instrumental in keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. In addition to Connecticut and Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, California, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey have enacted a law allowing local law enforcement to approve or deny gun licenses.

The highest per capita firearm mortality rates in the nation are in Alaska (23.3), Alabama (21.5), Louisiana (21.3), Mississippi (19.9), Oklahoma (19.6) and Missouri (19.0).  The United States average is 11.8.  The statistics are based on 2016 data, the most recent available.

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