State lawmakers will vote on gun control plan Wednesday - WNEM TV 5

State lawmakers will vote on gun control plan Wednesday

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the bipartisan agreement on gun control unveiled on Monday by lawmakers the "arguably the most comprehensive package in the country."

"This is the toughest law passed in the country," the governor said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Lawmakers proposed limiting magazines to no more than 10 rounds and those who currently have larger magazines would have to register them with state police.

They also proposed strong penalties for anyone who carries large ammunition magazines away from home or a gun range.

The state would also become the first in the country to create a dangerous weapon offender registry and there would be universal background checks for assault weapons.

"This package of laws in Connecticut, which was drafted on a bipartisan basis and that will pass on a bipartisan basis, is a very strong statement to the rest of the country," Malloy said.

State legislators said during a press conference Monday night that the "negotiations have not been easy but they have been fruitful."

"I think many doubted if we could ever reach this point," said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey Monday. "This is a truly bipartisan and strong initiative."

Malloy said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that he "was very happy" with the gun control agreement that he added "closed loopholes" left by previous bills on the issue. 

"It moves the ball down the field," Malloy said. "This is a demonstration to the rest of the country of what can be done if people put aside their differences. This is a good day."

The deal comes more than three months after the Sandy Hook shooting. On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother while she slept in her bed before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six adults. He then killed himself as police entered the school.

When told that many Connecticut residents feel that this package would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy, Malloy said, "They are wrong."

"Mr. Lanza would not have been able to kill as many people as he did," he said.

Malloy told members of the media that he "advocated from a similar position as the families of Newtown."

"We don't want to stop progress," he said.

Robert Crook from the Connecticut Sportsmen Association said he feels these laws are useless.

"I am just not sure what kind of compliance you are going to get with registering magazines to begin," he said. "If this did something to prevent this incident where the fault lies with the individual and the mother, not with legitimate gun owners in the state."

During a news conference Monday, the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School asked legislators not for a ban on large ammunition magazines for future sales, but those already in existence.

"I am grateful that the governor and Connecticut Legislature took a bipartisan path to a strong gun responsibility bill," said Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in a statement. "I particularly appreciate that the Legislature listened to us and strengthened the provision on large capacity magazine size." 

Sandy Hook Promise thanked Connecticut lawmakers for the coming to an agreement on the "strongest gun responsibility legislation in the nation."

"As someone who is new to the process and here only out of necessity, I am pleased with what we accomplished without rancor, with love," Hockley said.

Malloy said his goal was to continue to help the families as much as possible.

"Survivors should understand that they may have not everything they wanted, but they got a great deal," he added.

Lawmakers felt enforcing regulations that made all high-capacity magazines illegal would have been tough and registration was a compromise.

"The gun lobby and the NRA [National Rifle Association] and the extreme elements have been successful nationally blocking meaningful change," said state Senate President Donald Williams. "But here in Connecticut, not only have we accomplished meaningful change with a strong bill, but we have done it with Democrats and Republicans working together."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation released a statement where the organization questioned if lawmakers would have enough time to read the 100 pages of proposed legislation.

"Instead, we have a situation where law-abiding citizens will face greater restrictions on their Second Amendment and state constitutional rights, while Connecticut's firearms manufacturers will be forced to pay a price economically for the state's double standard of you can build it here, but not sell it here, public policy formulation," the statement read.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said a public hearing should be held to address "a large number of unanswered questions."

"We all abhor the tragedy that took place in December at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. That sad day will always be seared into our hearts," the organization said in a statement. "It is difficult to see, however, how the measures put forward in outline form by the General Assembly's leadership would do anything to meaningfully prevent future tragedy or reduce the criminal misuse of firearms."

Malloy said he talked to leadership from both the Democratic and Republican parties and believes that they will have enough votes in the House and Senate to pass the deal.

Malloy added that if this deal was passed by both the House and Senate, he will sign it into law.

The governor also said it is "important" that the deal be made into law as soon as possible and plans to make sure it is "strictly enforced," once it is passed.

Stag Arms in New Britain told Eyewitness News they would have to make more modifications to the AR-15, which is the same type of gun used in Newtown.

That, they said, would make the gun impossible to sell in Connecticut, and the owner of the company has explored other options.

"Gun owners are now criminals," Crook said about the new gun control legislation. "We have proven that if you are a gun owner in this state, you don't commit crimes."

Crook added that he "absolutely" expects lawsuits to brought forward if the lawmakers approve the legislation.

Some gun supporters may challenge these new laws.

In fact, while lawmakers will be voting on these laws Wednesday, several gun groups are planning to bus people to the state Capitol to speak out against the proposed measures.

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