Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday called for immediately banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, requiring background checks for the transfer of any firearm and expanding the state's assault weapons ban.
The Democrat has expressed frustration with the pace of the General Assembly's response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. His release of what he calls "common sense gun safety reforms" comes a day after he questioned whether a legislative task force can reach a bipartisan agreement on gun law changes — an accusation that miffed minority Republican leaders who contend the task force is still working.
Lawmakers originally hoped to vote on a package of legislation at the end of February, but have said there were delays due to the recent blizzard and they now say a vote may happen in March.
"Even on an issue as sensitive and critically important as gun control, Gov. Malloy has demonstrated that he is not above making it political,'' said State Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr., accusing Malloy of wanting to be in front of the legislative task force's recommendations and Vice President Joe Biden's appearance in Connecticut on Thursday.
Malloy's proposed package includes law changes, executive orders he can impose and recommendations to his own commission that's still reviewing the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown that claimed 26 lives. The package focuses solely on gun safety. Both the governor's commission and the bipartisan legislative task force are also reviewing possible school security and mental health changes.
"Even as those good efforts continue, and despite the strong leadership and goodwill in Connecticut's House and Senate, we run a risk of letting this critical moment in history pass us by," said the governor, who discussed his plan at a gun violence conference in Danbury featuring Vice President Joe Biden.
Malloy said there are questions as to why the gun used in the Sandy Hook shooting — a Bushmaster XM15 rifle, according to the state police — was not classified as an assault weapon under Connecticut's current law; why background checks are not required for someone who buys a gun privately or at a gun show; and why there is no limit on the size of a magazine that can be used in a semiautomatic weapon.
"These are questions we can answer now," the governor said.
Malloy's proposal includes the following:
— Expand permitting to cover more guns.
— Make individuals convicted of any offense involving a firearm, the use of force or threat of force, ineligible to obtain a firearm.
— Ban large capacity magazines and other ammunition-feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds.
— Redefine an assault weapon as any semiautomatic weapon that has at least one military feature. The sale and purchase of such weapons would be banned.
— Require gun owners to make sure their weapons, loaded or unloaded, are stored in a way that's inaccessible to not only children, but anyone that shouldn't have access.
— Require training in safe storage to be part of firearms training courses.
— Require gun permit holders, firearm safety instructors and employees of gun retailers, gun ranges and gun clubs to notify police when an individual is known to be engaging in illegal behavior involving a firearm.