Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Connecticut Senate OKs gun control bills
House expected to follow suit BY SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The state Senate on Wednesday approved wide-ranging legislation in response to last year's deadly school shooting in Newtown, including gun control measures that ban the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines and more than 100 weapons that previously had been legal.
Following a respectful and at times somber debate, the Senate voted 26-10 in favor of a bill crafted by leaders from both major parties in the Democratic-controlled legislature. The vote was bipartisan, with two Democrats voting with Republicans against the bill and six Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.
The bill was to go to the House of Representatives, which was expected to pass it later Wednesday. It would then be sent to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has said he'll sign it into law.
The December massacre of 26 people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, which reignited a national debate on gun control, set the stage for changes in Connecticut 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 after Malloy's signature, 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.