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Connecticut Gun Control Deal Includes School Security Changes

Ever since the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., there has been speculation about how Connecticut would change, or not change, its firearms laws in reaction to the incident. It appears the answer has finally come: The Associated Press reports that lawmakers have struck a bipartisan deal on new gun control measures that are directly related to safety in schools, and are preparing to send the package to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat.

Much of the news coverage has focused on the proposed laws that would affect firearms access and registration. For example, existing magazines holding 10 rounds or more would have to be registered by the start of 2014; the existing assault-weapons ban in Connecticut would be expanded by expanding the list of banned weapons by more than 100; and a new "dangerous offender" registry would be created to track those who commit felonies using a "deadly weapon" after their release from prison.

But there's also a lot in the legislative proposals that deal explicity with school security. Among those on the list of new laws directly related to school safety, as provided by the legislative task force:

• Each school would have to create its own school security plan and submit it to the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).

• The DESPP and the state Department of Education would have to jointly create new standards for school safety by the start of 2014.

• An existing school security competitive grant program for building projects would be revived, and would be funded through $15 million in bonds. Reimbursement rates for individual school safety projects would range between 20 to 80 percent.

• A School Safety Infrastructure Council would be created, and by the start of 2014, this council would have to present safety standards and update them regularly. Beginning in July 2014, school projects reviewed by the state's Department of Construction Services would have to comply with the school safety council's standards.

• Existing safe school climate committees at individual schools, originally created as part of the state's anti-bullying law, would have to investigate incidents of "disturbing and threatening" behavior and report them.

It might be a stretch to say that any of these proposals are truly groundbreaking. Neighboring New York state, for example, passed gun control legislation earlier this year that included new reviews of school safety plans and additional money for things like metal detectors. But Connecticut lawmakers seem to be concerned about creating clearer controls and expectations regarding school security, including the collaboration of state agencies on security plans.

The AP reports that passage in the statehouse of the legislative proposals is all but assured, since Democrats control both chambers of the legislature. Given Malloy's support for banning high-capacity magazines, which he just expressed on Monday, it seems like a decent bet that he'll approve the deal.

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