Charles Krupa, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut lawmakers were expected to approve sweeping new restrictions on weapons and large-capacity magazines Wednesday, a response to the Newtown school shooting that will give the state some of the country's tightest gun-control laws.
The December massacre of 26 people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, which reignited a national debate on gun control, set the stage for changes here that may have been impossible elsewhere: The governor, who personally informed parents that their children had been killed that day, championed the cause, and legislative leaders, keenly aware of the attention on the state, struck a bipartisan agreement they want to serve as a national model.
"The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response, demands a response that transcends politics," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., a Democrat. "It is the strongest and most comprehensive bill in the country."
The legislation adds more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban and creates what officials have called the nation's first dangerous weapon offender registry as well as eligibility rules for buying ammunition. Some parts of the bill will take effect immediately, including background checks for all firearms sales
Connecticut will join states including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts in having the country's strongest gun-control laws, said Brian Malte, director of mobilization for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.
"This would put Connecticut right at the top or near the top of the state with the strongest gun laws," Malte said.
Colorado and New York also passed new gun-control requirements in the wake of the Newtown shooting, in which a 20-year-old gunman used a military-style assault rifle to kill 20 first-grade children and six educators.
Compared with Connecticut's legislation, which, for example, bans the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, New York restricted magazines to seven bullets and gave owners of higher-capacity magazines a year to sell them elsewhere. Colorado banned ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
"There are pieces that are stronger in other states, but in totality, this will be the strongest gun legislation passed in the United States," Betty Gallo, a lobbyist for Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said of the Connecticut bill.
The legislation was unveiled this week, and debate began Wednesday in the Senate. The state House of Representatives was expected to take up the proposal after the Senate's anticipated approval, and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he will sign it.
Gun rights advocates who greatly outnumbered gun-control supporters in demonstrations at the Capitol railed against the proposals as misguided and unconstitutional, occasionally chanting "No! No! No!" and "Read the bill!"
"We want them to write laws that are sensible," said Ron Pariseau, 66, of Pomfret, who was angry he'll be made a felon if he doesn't register his weapons that will no longer be sold in Connecticut. "What they're proposing will not stop anything."
In the legislature, where Democrats control both houses, leaders waited to unveil gun legislation until they struck a bipartisan deal that they say shows how the parties can work together elsewhere. They touted the package as a comprehensive response to Newtown that also addresses mental health and school security measures, including $15 million to help pay for school security infrastructure upgrades.
But momentum on federal legislation has stalled in Congress, and President Barack Obama has planned a trip to Connecticut on Monday to step up pressure to pass a bill.
A silent majority in favor of stronger gun control has emerged following the Newtown massacre, Gallo said.
- Calliop, Jag and Tintin: Here's a look at 20...
- Walmart, Kmart 'Layaway Angels' spreading...
- Little difference between PG-13 and R-rated...
- What you think of welfare program depends on...
- Many Mormon missionaries who return home...
- WestJet airline video goes viral as Santa...
- Better than a raise: The smallest thing you...
- Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Can Mandela's legacy revive the GOP? 32
- India government likely to review... 25
- What you think of welfare program... 25
- Health care debate about presidential... 24
- Health care signups increase to... 23
- Looking beyond the premium is a... 17
- Putin defends Russian conservative values 15
- Little difference between PG-13 and... 13