Connecticut's Tough New Gun Law: Why Latinos Should Care

Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign off on a tight gun control law this afternoon. After more than 10 hours debating the wide-ranging bill (which totals up to 139 pages), both the state’s House of Representatives and the Senate voted in favor of it.

The bill, which will add more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban, comes as a result of the horrific Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On that fateful morning, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 students and six adult staff members (including his own mother) to death before killing himself. One of the victims was Victoria (also known as Vicki) Soto, a 27-year-old Puerto Rican teacher who died after hiding her students in a bathroom to protect them from harm.

This new tighter restriction will place Connecticut beside states such as California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts for having the country's strongest gun control laws, according to Brian Malte, director of mobilization for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.

Connecticut should be applauded for its push for this legislation’s signature. It’s long been known that Latinos and other people of color are disproportionately affected by gun violence. Latino male teens follow American Indian male teens in having the highest rate of gun-related deaths, with 17.8 per 100,000. Also, the disparities in homicide rates resulting from gun violence between people of color and other groups are unbelievably wide; according to the Center for American Progress think tank, murder and non-negligent manslaughter victims are most frequently black or Latino, with Latinos comprising 28.1 percent. That’s an extremely frightening percentage.

Another study by the same think tank showed that many states with the weakest firearms laws have the highest rates of gun-related deaths, as well as suicides. So we can definitely say we’re with Connecticut on this one – and with the state’s House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who shared his hopes for the bill recently.

“I pray today's bill — the most far-reaching gun safety legislation in the country — will prevent other families from ever experiencing the dreadful loss that the 26 Sandy Hook families have felt.”

What do you think about Connecticut’s tough new gun law? Share your thoughts in the comments below.