Malloy: The time to act is now - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Malloy: The time to act is now

Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the State of the State address in Jan. Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the State of the State address in Jan.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, together with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, released a gun violence prevention proposal that they said will make Connecticut a safer place to be.

"Two months ago, our state became the center of a national debate after a tragedy we never imagined could happen here," Malloy said in a statement. "The horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought home the fact that we are not immune to problems that face the nation at large, that we can never become complacent in our effort to ensure the safety of our residents."

The proposal outlines five primary areas where he said the state can strengthen gun control laws, including:

  • Making background checks universal and comprehensive.
  • Banning large-capacity magazines.
  • Strengthening the assault weapons ban.
  • Promoting safer gun storage.
  • Improving enforcement of existing laws.

"We have changed," Malloy said in a statement. "And I believe it is now time for our laws to do the same."

Malloy said he's been asking the same questions ordinary citizens have been asking themselves in the weeks and months since 20 children and six adults were shot and killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

"Why is the gun used at Sandy Hook not classified as an assault weapon under today's law? Why are background checks required when someone buys a gun in a store, but not when they buy it privately or at a gun show? Why is there no limit on the size of a magazine that can be used in a semiautomatic weapon? These are questions we can answer now," he said in a statement.

Malloy stressed that he has a great deal of respect for the Second Amendment and believes everyone has the fundamental right to bear arms in the United States.

But, he said, with that right comes with responsibility.

"This proposal endorses reasonable measures to improve public safety, while preserving citizens' constitutional rights. Shootings like this are becoming an all too common occurrence in our country. That must change," he said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said in a statement that it will review the details of Malloy's proposal.

"We are, however, troubled by the governor's apparent change in attitude and seeming impatience with the approach of the General Assembly's bipartisan Gun Violence Task Force and even his own commission," the statement said. "We do not believe a rush to quick-fix legislation is likely to produce real public safety solutions, while it holds the clear potential to hurt good-paying manufacturing jobs in our state."

Officials from the National Shooting Sports Foundation said they hope to meet with Malloy about the proposal. However, they said that they want the chance for "the General Assembly the opportunity to get it right."

"We believe that is more important than achieving headlines in connection with Vice President Biden's visit to Danbury today," the statement said.

"I've done the work, I'm speaking on the issue," Malloy said. "The lieutenant governor and I have worked on this for a while and now is the time to speak on it."

After listening to vice president speak on gun control, the governor returned to the state Capitol to talk more about his five-point plan and some think he's attempting to put himself ahead of the legislative task force's recommendations.

"If a gun that was used 69 days ago to slaughter 20 children and six adults isn't an assault weapon than they don't exist," Malloy said. "The reality is it's an assault weapon. They do exist and you can drive through em. it's time to close em."

The governor's plan also promotes safer gun storage and how to better enforce existing laws. It comes after questioning whether a legislative task force can come up with a bipartisan agreement.

"I hope it gets done on a bipartisan basis, but I hope it gets done," Malloy said.

The Senate Republican leader representing Newtown, John McKinney, who is co-chair of the bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety Task Force, said he's disappointed the governor broke from the bipartisan process.

"There is nothing new in the governor's proposal that isn't already being considered by the legislature's bipartisan task force," McKinney said in a statement. "The important work of our task force will continue and I expect to reach bipartisan agreement on comprehensive legislation to address gun violence, school security and children's safety in the near future."

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is scheduled to hold a meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Testimony is expected to be heard "from experts in the field of student support and school crisis response, including doctors with experience in psychology and trauma services."

The 16-member commission's objective is to review school safety, gun control laws and regulations and mental health issues.

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