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Hartford — State legislative leaders are getting closer to putting forth a comprehensive bill on gun control, school safety and mental health, with some lawmakers saying the search warrants released Thursday pertaining to the Sandy Hook shooting underscored the need for the proposed changes.
"I think it helps in that we won't have people asking questions about 'how can you vote without knowing certain pieces of information regarding the types of weapons he used and the magazine capacities and the like?'" Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said, "I think that this absolutely confirms that we are on the right track."
Leaders said they would meet with their respective caucuses in the House and Senate Monday to discuss measures in the unfinished bill. After those discussions, leaders expect to decide whether to call for a vote on an emergency certified bill next week.
An emergency certified bill is one on which the full House and Senate can vote without its having to go through committee. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the information from the newly released documents hasn't changed his mind and that it is important to pass a bill soon.
"It needs to begin here in Connecticut, in a matter of days, not months," Malloy said at a Mayors Against Illegal Guns rally Thursday at Hartford City Hall. At the rally, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra urged state lawmakers to move forward.
Blumenthal said Connecticut could help lead the nation, and the next month is crucial because Congress will be voting on a number of gun control measures.
"I think our delegation is saying there is an argument to be had about Connecticut's participation in the national debate, so let's get it done," Malloy said.
The documents released Thursday revealed that Adam Lanza took nine 30-round magazines with him to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Three of the magazines were emptied; three were about half-emptied; and the other three were still full when police found them. Lanza killed 20 children and six adults in the school in less than five minutes, according to the documents. The documents also showed that Lanza choose to leave smaller, 10- and 20-round magazines at home.
Whether to ban the possession of high-capacity magazines has been one of many sticking points among legislators.
Malloy said this and other new information confirmed the points in his proposal for a ban of the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines.
When Williams was asked whether the new information boosted the argument to ban possession of high-capacity magazines, he said, "We are still working on all the details of the bill, but certainly that is a chilling fact to know, and to comprehend that idea, that Adam Lanza walked into that school with nine high-capacity magazines."
McKinney said that with state Sen. Gary Lebeau, D-East Hartford, he has put forth a bill prohibiting the sale and possession of certain high-capacity magazines that accept more than 10 rounds. But, he said, he could not speak for all legislative leaders on this issue.
"There are first-grade parents in Newtown whose kids were able to flee that school, and (the parents) believe their kids' lives may very well have been spared because of the changing of magazines and the time it took to reload," McKinney said.
The documents also revealed that Adam Lanza's mother gave him a holiday card with a check to purchase a gun. When asked how the legislature could address a parent giving someone a gun, Malloy said, "You make it impossible for them to give them that gun or that size magazine in our state, that is what you do."
The Lanza household also had books such as "Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's" and "Born On a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant," according to the search warrants.
When asked whether mental health should be addressed more, Malloy said yes, but that it was now time to deal with guns.
McKinney said legislative leaders are focusing on mental health issues and that there are some "very good" proposals on the table.
The legislature has to take strong action to get the weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people who have serious mental health problems, Williams said.
When McKinney was asked whether he was interested in a toxicology report on Lanza and his mother, he said he had asked the Danbury state's attorney, Stephen Sedensky III, whether the reports are protected under privacy laws.
"Mr. Sedensky made it clear that in his opinion the law, with respect to privacy rights of individuals, still covers both the killer and his mother. … I wouldn't expect to get that information," McKinney said.
He added that he personally would like to see a lot of information sealed because making this information public "causes real pain to the families of the 20 children and six adults."