April 6, 2013

How Connecticut lawmakers wrangled a bipartisan gun deal

A commitment to passing reforms gets legislators from both sides over many potential barriers.

By SUSAN HAIGH The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Nancy Wyman, Neil Heslin, Dannel P. Malloy, Nicole Hockley
click image to enlarge

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, center, finishes signing legislation that includes new restrictions on weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday. Malloy is applauded by Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, third from left, Nicole Hockley, right, mother of Sandy Hook School shooting victim Dylan, and Conn. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

The Associated Press

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"It was a moment where, again, the whole thing could have blown up. But we just kept working at it to try to figure out how to define this thing," Sharkey said.

Cafero, he said, came up with the idea of defining assault weapons by the action of the gun.

But it was an 11 p.m. phone call to a state police gun expert that helped them figure out the specific part of the gun to identify in the bill.

By that point in the talks, the leaders had learned to trust one another and were reluctant to walk away.

"I don't believe that anyone in the room ever gave up their commitment to try to get something done together," McKinney said. "And it was because we all had that commitment and everybody was willing to compromise that we ended up with a bipartisan package."

Williams said there also was a potential impasse over the language banning high-capacity magazines. He said some in the room opposed changes. But in the end, the new law bans the sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and allows owners of existing large magazines to register them with the state police by Jan. 1.

"We could have parted company and the negotiations could have ended, and instead we stayed at the table and resolved those challenges," he said. "Folks realized there was more at stake than just a partisan Connecticut issue, that the eyes of the nation truly were looking toward Connecticut, and how we handled this was going to make a difference not only for our state but perhaps for the country."


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