Did Malloy cut off his gun panels at the pass? [Meriden Record Journal]

February 26, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Meriden Record-Journal on February 24, 2013

Jesse Buchanan | Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013 11:01 pm

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s gun control proposals, released Tuesday, have angered some local legislators tasked with creating recommendations in response to the Newtown shooting.

Neither a task force created by Malloy nor a task force created by the legislature had finished its work or proposed new laws when Malloy unveiled his ideas for gun and ammunition magazine bans, along with more restrictions on who can own guns.

“It’s disappointing that he would just come out with a plan that I’m not sure takes into account anybody’s findings,” said state Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Southington, a member of the General Assembly’s bipartisan Sandy Hook task force and the mental health working group.

The legislative task force was given March 15 as a deadline to present recommendations on gun, mental health and school safety laws.

In January, Malloy appointed Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson chairman of a 15-member commission to look at the same subjects. They were also given a March 15 deadline to submit recommendations. When announcing the commission, Malloy spoke in favor of expanding the state’s assault weapon ban to include more guns and to ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

While speaking at a gun-violence conference Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden, Malloy said changes in the state’s gun laws need to take place soon.

“We run a risk of letting this critical moment in history pass us by,” Malloy said. “None of us want that to happen, and none of us should let it happen.”

State Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, a member of the Newtown task force mental health working group, said that while the group’s work will continue, Malloy’s proposals undercut its efforts.

“I thought, ‘I may as well go home,’ ” Markley said.

There’s no reason to rush proposals unless there was an intent to push stricter gun control legislation from the start, Markley said. There’s “almost no other way to read” Malloy’s actions other than that the governor senses support for gun control waning, according to Markley.

“If we have good ideas, they’ll be good ideas two weeks from now,” he said. “This seems to (indicate) that all of this was just to get gun restrictions … It seems he’s looking at the political moment.”

Sampson said Malloy is likely feeling pressure from Biden and President Barack Obama to roll out gun control measures. Sampson opposes expanding the assault weapons ban or creating a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

At a press conference Thursday, Malloy said he hopes new gun restrictions would be enacted “on a bipartisan basis, but what’s most important is that it gets done.”

“Governors get to speak to issues,” Malloy said. “I’m speaking to issues.”

A discussion on process was a distraction from the issues, he said, a tactic “right out the NRA playbook.”

“I would just ask we not get overly involved in process,” Malloy said.

State House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Southington, said Democrats, who hold majorities in the legislature, could have already passed gun control measures if that was their intent.

Holding bipartisan task forces is working, Aresimowicz said. He hopes to have bills up for votes by mid-March. Gun control is an important issue, but Aresimowicz said it was important to pass “deliberate” legislation.

“While I disagree with (Malloy’s) overall assertion that we’re not moving fast enough, I know where he’s coming from,” he said.

State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, D-Meriden, a member of the legislature’s task force and the panel’s school safety working group, said she wasn’t bothered by the governor’s recommendations.

“I think in his role as governor it’s certainly his prerogative to weigh in,” she said. “That’s all that’s being done at this point.”

State Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, a member of the task force’s mental health working group, could not be reached for comment Friday.