After the state Legislature announced that it would likely not deliver its gun-control recommendations by the end of this month, Gov. Dannel Malloy released his own comprehensive package of proposals last Thursday.
Malloy’s gun-control package was a clear jab at congressional Republicans and other state legislators who by disagreement have prevented the state Legislature’s gun violence task force from delivering recommendations by the end of February — a goal it set in early January. In a press conference held Thursday, the governor said he chose to release his own proposal for fear that the Legislature would not take advantage of the momentum created by the Sandy Hook shooting in December, encouraging the Legislature to put its own negotiations temporarily aside and take an up-or-down vote on his proposed package.
“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,” Malloy said. “None of us want that to happen, and none of us should let it happen.”
The package Malloy unveiled included five main areas to tighten gun regulations: strengthening the state’s assault weapons ban, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, instituting universal background checks, promoting safe gun storage and enforcing existing regulations.
A late January survey of 511 Connecticut voters, conducted by the University of Connecticut in conjunction with the Hartford Courant, found that at least 64 percent of the state’s residents support tighter gun restrictions such as those the governor is suggesting. The proposal to create a universal background check system reached 90 percent support in the survey, with other ideas receiving broad majority support as well.
“[Malloy] is doing this for the right reasons. There’s been enough time for deliberation — it’s now time for action,” said Ron Pinciaro, the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. “But there seems to be deadlock among the members of the task force. He said, ‘We realize some things are difficult, but here is some low-hanging fruit. There should be no disagreement on this.’”
Craig Miner, a House Republican who co-chairs the Legislature’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, declined to compare the governor’s suggestions to those his committee will likely put forward in the next few weeks, adding that speaking out ahead of time would undermine the bipartisan process. He confirmed that a strengthened background check system would most likely be part of the final deal.
As for the question of Malloy’s timing, Miner said that it would not significantly impact the pace of his committee’s work.
“The governor’s under a lot of pressure just being governor,” he said. “I’m not panicked by it.”
Rich Burgess, president of pro-gun organization Connecticut Carry, said that Malloy is being “completely unfair” by inserting himself into the legislative process. He added that the governor’s actions — along with those of many liberal legislators — suggest that they are motivated to take advantage of Sandy Hook to push through legislation they have long supported.
“A rational attitude would be to wait until the police have released their report,” he said, in reference to the investigation into the Sandy Hook shooting with results expected to be released in June. “We think the governor’s actions are political grandstanding.”
The state Legislature’s working group on gun violence is due to next meet on Monday.
Correction: Feb. 26
A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that Rep. Craig Miner, one of the co-chairs of the legislature’s gun violence working group, is a Democrat, when in fact he is a Republican. It also mistakenly stated that multiple Republican legislators on the gun task force did not respond to requests for comment.