Connecticut Lawmakers Reach Deal On Gun Control Legislation

Legislature Seems Confident Agreement Will Get Washington's Attention

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Connecticut state lawmakers came to an agreement Monday on what they said will become some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the deal included a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, such as the one that was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Newtown. The deal also calls for a new registry for existing high-capacity magazines, and background checks that would apply to private gun sales.

Another registry would be set up for dangerous weapons offenders.

The deal also calls for an expansion of the Connecticut assault weapons ban, listing more types of high-powered guns.

Lawmakers also agreed to create a so-called eligibility certificate, where legitimate gun owners would submit to fingerprinting, a firearms training course, and a nationwide background check.

“It has been a thoughtful process and thorough process, and we are prepared now, as the Connecticut State Legislature, to move forward,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. (D-Brooklyn, Conn.)

Connecticut House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) said he hopes the agreement sends a message to Washington, and the rest of the country.

“This is the way to get this job done; to do it in an effective, meaningful, thoughtful way, and to do it on a bipartisan basis, because our children deserve no less,” Sharkey said.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported earlier Monday, a vote on the package by mid-week is the goal.

Conn. Lawmakers To Vote On Bipartisan Gun Control Measures This Week

State Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield), who represents Newtown, said the bill was a result of bipartisan cooperation and covers all the major issues.

“We raised and considered every issue from every angle, and that has produced a comprehensive, broad, bipartisan package that deals with mental health, it deals with school security, and it deals with gun violence,” McKinney said.

House Republican Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) said the bill also takes into consideration the rights of gun owners.

“At the same time that we were trying to make sure that our citizenry felt safe; that we put public safety first and foremost, we were also all very cognizant of the hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens who are gun owners, and their rights,” Cafero said.

Governor Dannel Malloy, who presented his own proposals in February, was waiting Monday to see the final version.

Malloy wanted a straight-up-and-down vote on the large magazines, but didn’t get it.

“I personally would like to see large capacity magazines eliminated in our state, so we’ll see how that’s addressed,” Malloy told Schneidau. “Some of the mental health issues, I’m looking for details and we’ll make a final judgment once we go through everything and hear what the caucuses have to say.”

The registry on existing high-capacity magazines is considered a compromise, as some gun control advocates had called for an outright ban rather than allowing existing owners to be grandfathered in.

Some have doubts about whether the registry will be effective.

“I don’t think it’s going to work honesty,” said Ian Strager of Danbury. “How do you register old magazines?”

According to data released last week, Newtown gunman Adam Lanza had hundreds of rounds of ammunition on him when he opened fire inside the school, leaving 20 children, as well as six educators, dead.

In the aftermath of the Dec. 14 massacre, New York became the first state to implement strict new gun control reforms.

One Newtown parent also praised the compromise.

“I applaud their approach, the bipartisan task force, and I know they want to come up with the strongest laws possible, changes for our state,” said Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in the massacre.

But the proposal has already drawn strong opposition from gun rights groups.

As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, the Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League said “limiting magazine capacity or mandating registration would only affect people who obey the law.”

It added that nothing in the package would stop someone like Lanza, who stole the guns from his mother.

The dangerous weapons registry and assault weapons ban made Harry Gonzalez of Brewster, N.Y. — near the Connecticut border — uneasy.

“The bad guys are still going to be able to do what they do. They’re still going to get guns,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, so we’re still in trouble.”

Others said their constitutional rights were being threatened.

“We have a right to bear arms, which includes the weapon, the magazine for that particular weapon, the ammo,” one man said. “There should be no restrictions on ammo.”

One prominent Republican told CBS 2’s Young the uneasiness on both sides is actually encouraging.

“Typically, when both sides walk away a little bit unhappy, that means it’s a good compromise,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

Legislators will reportedly use Tuesday to mull the proposals over.

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