Lawmaker: Put Down the Gun Until You're 18

When you turn 18 in Connecticut you can, buy cigarettes, get married, enlist in the military or go on Jerry Springer.

What state law does not make clear, according to Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, is how old you have to be to handle a machine gun or assault weapon.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would change that and allow no one under 18 to lay their hands on the powerful weapons.

The reason? The tragic death of Christopher Bizilj, an 8-year-old Ashford boy, in October.

Bizilj was attending a gun fair in Westfield, Mass. when he accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi.

He lost control of the 9mm micro submachine gun as it recoiled while he was firing at a pumpkin at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club. Christopher's father was 10 feet behind him and reaching for his camera when the child fired the weapon, the Associated Press reports.

Looney, a New Haven Democrat, said children might not be strong enough to control assault weapons or machine guns, even if they are being supervised by a parent.

"Children should not be possession of these powerful weapons," he said.

Looney says it's unclear under current state law whether children are already prohibited from possessing machine guns or assault weapons. The bill, he said, would clear up the matter.

There is opposition.

Raymond Hanley, president of the High Rock Shooting Association in Naugatuck, called the tragedy at the Massachusetts gun show "beyond explanation" but said gun safety education is important and it should begin earlier than age 18.

Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, an avid sportsman, said he's concerned that the bill could adversely affect teens who shoot competitively with guns that are considered assault weapons under Connecticut law.

"I'm not sure there is an exact age for everyone," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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