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State leaders support Obama gun proposals

By Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published January 16. 2013 3:00PM   Updated January 17. 2013 12:22AM
Malloy, Blumenthal, Courtney, Murphy all say now is the time to act

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and members of the congressional delegation hailed the president's new proposals for curbing gun violence as common sense steps that could prevent another tragedy like the Newtown school shooting.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden unveiled a plan Wednesday to require criminal background checks for all gun sales while banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and improving access to mental health services.

They want to put up to 1,000 more resource officers and counselors in schools and help schools develop emergency management plans. Twenty-six staff and students were killed Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss, Malloy said, "There was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation — how do we make sure this never happens again?

"Today the president took the critical first step toward answering that question," he said in a statement. "The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on."

Malloy said that in the months ahead, he will try to make sure Connecticut is a national leader in preventing gun violence. Malloy has created an advisory commission and on Tuesday, state lawmakers created a Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety Task Force.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, D-Brooklyn, and Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, issued statements Wednesday praising the White House for taking action, and emphasizing the importance of reducing gun violence, increasing access to mental health services and improving school security at the state level.

Obama signed executive orders to put 23 of the measures into place and called on Congress to require a background check for anyone trying to buy a gun as well as a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Obama also said he would seek confirmation for B. Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones is the bureau's acting director.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Obama "set the ball in motion" with his ideas on how to make school districts safer and stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, while preserving the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

Connecticut's U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said Congress should act on these changes to make the nation safer.

Blumenthal has drafted a bill to require background checks on people buying gun ammunition. He called the president's plan "a blueprint to seize this moment," keep faith with the victims of recent tragedies and sustain the momentum.

Murphy said that if assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were not so readily available, "there would be more little boys and girls alive in Newtown today."

"There are no longer any excuses for inaction," Murphy said. "If the horror of Sandy Hook doesn't move Congress to act on common sense gun laws, I have no idea what will."

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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