Malloy touts 'common-sense' approach to curbing gun violence

Tim Martin/The Day Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reaches over Thursday to the shake the hand of an attendee prior to the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

Hartford — Deflecting questions about the timing of its unveiling, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday his five-part plan to curb gun violence was a "common sense" approach to an issue that's gripped the state and the nation for months.

"It's been 69 days," Malloy said, referring to the period since the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. "That's a long time."

Malloy's plan would require background checks for the transfer or sale of all firearms, and would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, strengthen the state's assault-style weapons ban, mandate safer storage of weapons and improve enforcement of existing gun laws.

As governor, he said, it is his job to keep attention focused on the need for gun control, regardless of the prospects for bipartisan support of gun-control legislation.

"I have a pulpit," he said. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to talk about what makes common sense."

Political opponents charged the governor was grandstanding.

"Even on an issue as sensitive and critically important as gun control, Governor Malloy has demonstrated that he is not above making it political," Jerry Labriola Jr., chairman of the state Republican Party, said in a statement. "... It is clear he wants the headline to read 'Malloy proposes gun control' ahead of the vice president's visit to Connecticut."

In January, Malloy convened a Sandy Hook Advisory Commission to make specific recommendations regarding school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention.

Under current state law, to purchase a firearm from a dealer, the buyer must pass a federal background check, and unless the purchaser is in possession of a permit or hunting license, must wait 14 days.

But Malloy noted that these requirements are bypassed in private sales between individuals and at guns shows. His plan would require background checks prior to transfer in ownership of any firearm in any circumstance.

A permit is already required for carrying a handgun; Malloy's plan calls for expanding permitting to cover more guns, including shotguns and rifles other than traditional hunting or sporting weapons.

Under current state law, there is no limit on the number of rounds that may be discharged from a firearm before the shooter must reload.

Malloy's proposal would ban large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds. Individuals in possession of magazines or other devices with a capacity greater than 10 rounds would have until Oct. 1 to sell the device out of state, turn it over to local law enforcement or permanently modify it so that it no longer holds more than 10 rounds.

Malloy noted that the gun used in the shooting at Sandy Hook is not classified as an assault weapon. His plan would change that, expanding the definition of assault weapons to include semiautomatic weapons with any additional military-style feature, and would ban the purchase and sale of such weapons.

Malloy also said education is key to promoting gun safety. He said safe storage methods should be a required part of firearms certification courses, and informational materials should be included with permit renewal, firearm and ammunition purchases and at gun clubs and ranges.

He also said storage rules should be amended to require gun owners to make their weapons inaccessible to everyone, not just children. Also, gun permit holders, firearm safety instructors and employees of gun retailers, gun clubs and gun ranges would be required to report illegal gun activity.

Gun dealers also would be asked to maintain electronic records of all firearms and ammunition purchased and sold and routinely relay that information to police.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

i.larraneta@theday.com

Vice President Joe Biden, right, laughs with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Thursday during a gun violence conference at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
Tim Martin/The Day Vice President Joe Biden, right, laughs with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Thursday during a gun violence conference at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
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