Divided Lawmakers Release Competing Gun Safety Proposals

A legislative panel reviewing gun safety issues after the Newtown tragedy released two competing lists of proposals.

Facing mounting pressure from Governor Dannel Malloy and legislative leaders, members of a bi-partisan gun safety committee released competing proposals to toughen the state's gun laws after the Newtown tragedy.

During a hearing Tuesday afternoon at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Democrats released one list of ideas and Republicans released another one.

"It's quite clear that there is consensus on some items and not on others," said Sen. Martin Looney, (D-New Haven), who is one of the panel's co-chairs.

The committee has been meeting since the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14. The massacre ended with 20 first grade students and six educators dead.

"Change doesn't come easy but I think many of us believe that in the area of safety, safe storage, and a number of other things, change is here," said Rep. Craig Miner, (R-Bethlehem), who is the panel's other co-chair.

There is some agreement between the two lists.  Both include proposals to ban all armor-piercing bullets and require background checks for all gun purchases.

However, there are many differences.

Democrats want to expand the state's assault weapons ban and prohibit magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Republicans have suggested raising the age for purchasing such weapons from 18 to 21.

Some members of the panel expressed frustration with the lack of consensus.

"I don't think that we will have fulfilled our mission if we just pass along two lists," said Sen. John Kissel, (R-Enfield).

Lobbyists for different gun rights groups listened to the presentation from the panel.

"The biggest concern we have and the biggest disappointment we have is a bi-partisan committee has turned partisan today," said John Hohenwarter, who is a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

"Any gun bill you pass is not going to stop a thing like Sandy Hook," said Robert Crook of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. "If we expected this committee to come out with one list stating that they were all in concurrence, I think that was dreamland."

Legislative leaders will now look over the recommendations from the gun panel and two other panels that reviewed school safety and mental health issues. A final bill is expected to be presented to the legislature for a vote later this month.

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