Malloy coming to New London to discuss gun violence proposals

New London - The day after a gun buyback program resulted in 255 firearms being taken off city streets, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will visit New London today to discuss his gun violence prevention proposals with local officials.

Malloy will be meeting with Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, acting Police Chief Peter Reichard, and other officials in the mayor's office this morning.

While Malloy and Finizio discuss possible gun control measures, members of the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocacy groups will be meeting in Hartford to express their opposition to Malloy's proposals.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League joined forces to create this "Lobby Day in Hartford." The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action website called the lobby day "important" and urged local gun rights advocates to attend. A contingent of members from the Groton Sportmen's Club plans to attend, according to one of its board members, Joe Rendeiro of Stonington.

Shuttle buses will be running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to take people from the parking lot of Cabella's, a hunting and fishing superstore in East Hartford, to the Capitol.

"Governor Malloy and anti-gun legislators are aggressively setting the stage to quickly pass sweeping proposals that will severely inhibit your Right to Keep and Bear Arms and inherent right to self-defense," said the website's description of the event.

The gun buyback program held over the last two weekends in New London encouraged residents to turn in their unwanted guns for destruction by rewarding them with debit gift cards.

Police collected 116 handguns, 120 long guns and 2 assault weapons from 159 different people during the four-day program. In return for the weapons, they gave out $20,875 worth of gift cards, according to Reichard.

The amount of money on the gift cards corresponded to the type of gun turned in: $75 for shotguns and rifles, $100 for handguns and $150 for assault weapons.

On Sunday, the last day of the program, police collected 18 handguns, 26 long guns and 1 assault weapon.

Along with the 238 weapons collected in return for gift cards, three handguns and 14 long guns that did not qualify for the buy-back program were also turned in to the police for destruction, bringing the total to 255.

The program was funded by private donations. Religious groups in the area and the New London County Bar Association raised money for the event.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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