Connecticut lawmakers reach agreement on strongest gun laws ever proposedPosted: Updated:
After meeting privately for weeks, lawmakers from both political parties have reached an agreement on gun control, and the deal calls for some of the strongest gun laws ever proposed.
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.
Leaders are now proposing limiting magazines to no more than 10 rounds and those who currently have larger magazines would have to register them with state police.
They are also talking about 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.
"The strategy is to work together to craft legislation that people believe can get done," said state Rep. Gary Holder Winfield. "And that is the piece of legislation will be hearing on Wednesday."
Lawmakers said during a press conference 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. "This is a truly bipartisan and strong initiative."
Lawmakers said the proposed deal "closed loopholes" and has the "strongest language in country."
"We have come up with what I believe is the strongest and most comprehensive package we could have," said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney
State legislatures told members of the media that no gun owner will lose their firearm or magazine, but there will be "tighter restrictions."
"All of us, Republicans and Democrats, understood that some issues, particularly this one, should rise above politics," said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who represents Newtown.
As lawmakers discussed the deal, Newtown families made a last-ditch effort to prevent another mass shooting.
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.
"It's our job to make sure this doesn't happen again for our son," said Jackie Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed during the shooting.
Nicole Hockley said she believes her 6-year-old son, Dylan, and maybe another child could have escaped if the gunman Lanza had to stop and reload more often.
"Well, if we look at the case of what happened to Gabby Giffords, that was very clear when the shooter stopped to reload, he was disarmed," Hockley said. "My son was in [Victoria] Soto's class where 11 children escaped and he died in the arms of his educator. If the shooter had to reload more, perhaps Dylan would still be with me today."
The Sandy Hook families believe if Lanza only had a 10-round magazine, he would have to stop and reload 15 times and not six.
"Everybody needs to think about it and look into their hearts and do what's necessary to make the changes that need to happen," said Mark Barden, whose son, Dylan, was killed during the shooting.
However, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which is the largest grassroots gun rights group in the state, also released a statement Monday.
"There is nothing in this package that would have stopped someone like Adam Lanza. In his case, he stole the guns and went on a murderous rampage," said the group's president, Scott Wilson.
In the statement, Wilson said "limiting magazine capacity or mandating registration" would only affect people who obey the law.
"Today's proposal is heavily opposed by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League," he said. "It is ludicrous to expect people that have firearms capable of holding 15 rounds to only load 10 rounds inside of them. Do criminals really care about these laws?"
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement on the letter that the Newtown families sent to Connecticut lawmakers.
"I have been clear for weeks that a ban on the possession and sale of high capacity magazines is an important part of our effort to prevent gun violence - simply banning their sale moving forward would not be an effective solution," he said in a statement. "This morning, we heard from victims' families on that very point. They've asked for an up or down vote on that provision and, whether it's in the larger bill or as an amendment, the families, and every resident of our state, deserve a vote."
Malloy said the issue of the ban has "bipartisan support, including from Senate Minority Leader John McKinney."
"We cannot lose sight of our ultimate goal - improving public safety for all of our residents, including our children," the statement read.
The deal also includes changes in the early release program for violent felons, with most of them having to serve at least 85 percent of their original sentence.
Lawmakers told Eyewitness News that there is a good chance that the proposed deal could pass because it has bipartisan support.
The state Senate and House are both expected to discuss the bill Wednesday and a vote is expected the same day.
To read the full agreement, click the following link.
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