In New London, governor pushes his post-Newtown gun reform proposal

New London — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy continued to promote his five-part gun violence prevention proposal on Monday, stopping here and visiting with the mayor.

“Today I’m in New London just trying to keep this hot on the front burner of the stove,’’ he said during a brief press conference at City Hall.

In February, Malloy proposed a plan to address gun violence. It includes background checks for transfer or sale of arms; a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines; strengthening the state’s ban on assault-style weapons; and mandating safer storage and improving enforcement of existing gun laws.

“We’re not taking weapons away,” he said Monday. “You’ll get to keep your guns, but you have to pass a background check.’’

Malloy also has visited other cities in the state, including Stamford and Bridgeport. He said his proposal is gaining bipartisan support throughout the state.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who met with the governor briefly Monday just before the 11:30 a.m. press conference, called the governor’s plan “some very common-sense proposals.”

“When you live in a city, as I do ... you know gun violence is very real, and reducing guns on the street is critical for public safety,” Finizio said.

The governor’s visit followed a four-day gun buyback program in the city that netted 255 firearms.

During the last two weekends, police took in 116 handguns, 120 long guns and two assault weapons from residents from throughout New London County. In addition, three handguns and 14 long guns that did not qualify for the buy back were also turned in, according to Acting Police Chief Peter G. Reichard.

Nearly 160 individuals handed over their firearms and received $20,875 in cash gift cards. Local religious organizations and the New London County Bar Association donated the funds. All of the firearms will be destroyed by the Connecticut State Police Firearms Unit.

As the governor chatted with the mayor Monday, the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates descended on the Capitol in Hartford to oppose the proposed changes to gun laws.

Malloy said Monday that most people in the state want changes.

“What you see is the fringe of the fringe showing up in Hartford today,” he said.

Following the Dec. 14 shooting of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Malloy convened the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission and charged it with making specific recommendations regarding school safety, mental health issues, and gun violence prevention. The group is expected to pass its proposals on to the governor by Friday.

“I’d like to get it this week, but if not, at least by the end of the session,’’ he said.

Earlier in the day, Malloy met with the editorial staff at The Day and was asked about gun manufacturers leaving the state.

“I want them to stay as long as they are manufacturing something that is legally consumed in the country, although it can’t be sold here,” he said.

The bigger issue is the potential economic impact of adding guns to the assault weapons ban list or limiting high capacity magazines, he said.

“I think they realize it is a bigger issue than that, even though they don’t want to admit it. I mean, not every state has had 20 babies shot,” Malloy said.

He told The Day he was hopeful there would be agreement on gun legislation soon.

“If we do it on a bipartisan basis we could do it next week. If we do it without an agreement it could take till June,” Malloy said.

Day Staff Writer Johanna Somers contributed to this report.


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