With New Details, Lawmakers Look To Pass Gun Legislation Next Week
After reviewing “chilling” details from the Newtown shooting investigation, legislative leaders from both parties plan to meet in private with rank-and-file lawmakers Monday to discuss negotiated gun control legislation. A vote on a bill is expected as early as Wednesday.
The movement toward a vote came Thursday after prosecutors released search warrants for the ongoing investigation into the Dec. 14 murder of 20 first graders and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown.
Legislative leaders have been working for weeks to negotiate a bipartisan bill in response to the shooting and have requested as much information as possible to inform their legislation. Leaders from both parties say they plan to meet with members on Monday.
The documents prosecutors made public Thursday confirmed much of what has been reported in the months since the shooting, and highlighted the significant number of firearms and vast quantities of ammunition to which the 20-year-old shooter had access in the home he shared with his mother.
Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said the sheer number of weapons found in the gunman’s household confirms lawmakers have been “on the right track” as they’ve negotiated what is expected to be a historic package of gun control measures.
“I think all of us know there’s always been an issue of dealing with the loopholes in our assault weapons ban and getting the weapons of war out of the hands of those who would harm our children and folks in our communities,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said that the warrants confirmed what lawmakers already knew: the shooter was a troubled person who had access to firepower and ammunition.
McKinney said the information will help lawmakers defend their legislation against critics who may ask whether they were informed about the case when they crafted the bill.
“That’s now public, and therefore people can understand and trust that we’re operating with the knowledge of what he had at his disposal to commit these murders,” he said.
Both McKinney, who represents Newtown, and Williams have advocated for a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.
“There are first grade parents in Newtown whose kids were able to flee that school who believe their kids lives very well may have been spared because of the changing of magazines and the time it took to reload,” McKinney said.
As Newtown’s senator, he said he would have liked to have seen much of the information that has been publicly released remain sealed to protect the families of the victims.
“Look, this is very hurtful stuff for them. So I think to varying degrees, it just continues the pain,” McKinney said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called last week for the disclosure of information from the investigation. His request came amid criticism from lawmakers over a leak of previously undisclosed information by the state police.
But the governor, even as he called for additional information last week, said lawmakers have had enough information to pass legislation for some time.
“Listen, they knew enough, a week ago, two weeks ago, four weeks ago to take up a bill. Hopefully they’ll take up a bill,” he said.
Malloy said some of the information disclosed Thursday was difficult to understand, like why someone would keep so much firepower in a home.
“There are parts of this story that are unfathomable,” he said. “How anyone would have maintained that household, that way, is difficult to understand.”