HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Connecticut lawmakers on Wednesday began the process of reviewing recommendations on laws affecting gun violence, school safety and mental health care, and crafting a bill that responds to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.
Democratic and Republican leaders met Wednesday afternoon for the first time since three subcommittees forwarded their suggestions.
The private meeting lasted about two hours. Lawmakers declined to provide any details of their discussions but more than one said they are taking it “one day at a time” and planned to meet again Thursday. A vote by the full General Assembly could be scheduled as early as next week.
“We’re all there in good faith and I think we’re all working toward the same goal, which is to have a bipartisan, comprehensive, effective agreement,” said House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.
The meeting came as a new Quinnipiac University poll shows strong support for gun control measures, including universal background checks, a gun offender registry, new permit requirements, expansion of Connecticut’s assault weapons ban and a ban on large capacity magazines.
While the Republican members of the gun violence subcommittee did not recommend bans on more assault weapons large-capacity magazines, Democratic Senate President Donald Williams Jr. says lawmakers should heed the poll’s findings.
The poll shows there’s a strong sentiment among the people of Connecticut for stronger gun control laws, but the sentiment is not carried across party lines in Hartford where lawmakers are unable to reach consensus on reshaping the laws.
Quinnipiac University poll director Douglas Schwartz said the poll shows that voters do not have much confidence in their elected officials to reach a deal on gun control.
“And they are some reason for that pessimism because right now, we’re seeing duelling plans coming out of Hartford; the Republicans have one plan, the Democrats have another,” Schwartz told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “Democrats are optimistic 50 – 43 percent, but Republicans are not, 64 – 32 percent, and independent voters are pessimistic, 58 – 35 percent.”
WEB EXTRA: Read Full Quinnipiac Poll Results (pdf)
“Democrats want to see an expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban. They also want to see limits on high-capacity magazines. Republicans in the state legislature are against those two things. What’s interesting, however, from our poll is that not only do Democrats support those things, but Republicans do as well,” Schwartz said.
The poll of Connecticut voters shows 93 percent of respondents support universal background checks for gun purchases. Among poll respondents who own a gun, 89 percent support universal background checks.
Schwartz said that is the highest figure he’s seen on the question of background checks on any survey.
By a margin of 54 to 41, voters support placing armed guards in public schools, according to the poll’s findings.
Most other gun control measures received 2-to-1 margins of support, including ammunition limits, creating a gun offender registry and implementing an annual review for handgun ownership. The margins among gun owners were much narrower on some issues, the poll found.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,009 registered voters from March 4-5. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.
Do you agree with the poll findings? Sound off in the comments section below…
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