The state Senate passed a historic gun control bill Wednesday evening on a bipartisan basis after a detailed debate in Hartford.
The 26 to 10 vote included two Democrats and eight Republicans against the measure. Those voting against the bill included Republicans John Kissel, Kevin Witkos, Joseph Markley, Dwight Chapin, Jason Welch, Rob Kane, Art Linares and Anthony Guglielmo. They were joined by Democrats Andrew Maynard and Cathy Osten.
On the highly emotional issue of gun control, nearly all 36 senators rose to speak Wednesday on the Senate floor in Hartford.
Sen. Andres Ayala, a freshman Democrat who previously served in the House of Representatives last year, said that gun violence has become all too common in urban neighborhoods where citizens are gunned down on the streets of Bridgeport.
The poor in Bridgeport, he said, did not have email campaigns on their behalf to get action at the state Capitol on gun violence.
\”People are coming into our city, bringing these guns and putting them into the hands of criminals,\’\’ Ayala told his colleagues. \”When I have thugs, and when I have folks coming into my community, and they want to put guns into the hands of teenagers … there is a problem.\’\’
Ayala, who favors Senate Bill 1160, said he regretted that \”several of my former students have lost their lives because of senseless gun violence.\’\’
Sen. Rob Kane, a Republican, asked why the new gun offender registry for gun criminals would not be public in the same way that the state\’s sex offender registry is currently open to the general public under Megan\’s Law.
\”The purpose of the registry is for law enforcement,\’\’ Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams responded on the Senate floor.
\”I think the public has the right to know,\’\’ Kane responded.
At the other end of the state in Stonington, Sen. Andrew Maynard, a Democrat, said the Newtown tragedy made legislators believe that \”we needed to act with a spirit of unity and bipartisanship.\’\’
\”I come from a part of the state that has a great many rural residents, that has a proud gun tradition,\’\’ Maynard said, adding that his constituents in southeastern Connecticut are known for \”enjoying hunting and competitions and shooting.\’\’
He added, \”I don\’t share their wariness for the government. … I understand their passion.\’\’
His constituents who defend the Second Amendment do it for their beliefs in freedom and \”not because they are gun nuts, not because they are some fringe element.\’\’
He added that the bill \”really deserves more scrutiny than I have had the ability to give it.\’\’
Maynard said that many of the worst mass shootings in the United States have been committed by white men under 25 years of age, including many that ended in suicide and thus provided no full explanation for their actions.
\”I find myself troubled by those aspects of the bill and will be voting no today,\’\’ said Maynard, who represents eight towns that include Voluntown, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Griswold, and others.
Republican Art Linares, a freshman who represents 12 towns in the shoreline area, said he was voting \”no\’\’ because the bill would create \”unnecessary harm\’\’ for law-abiding gun owners.
\”The people have not had the chance to voice their opinion on the final language of this bill,\’\’ Linares told his colleagues.
Sen. John Fonfara, a veteran Democrat who represents Hartford and nearby communities, said that he supports the bill.
Fonfara discussed the profile of most of the shooters to find \”the Adam Lanzas of our communities\’\’ in the future.
\”Young, angry and withdrawn, some mentally disturbed, maybe a violent video game watcher, access to firearms, maybe a copy-catter,\’\’ Fonfara said. \”Like suicide, many contemplate it. Few commit it.\’\’
Sen. Toni Boucher, a Wilton Republican, said some schoolchildren are \”practicing hiding in their closets to see if they can all fit in their closets.\’\’
She said that some people drive into Connecticut\’s cities with trunkloads of guns and sell them for cash with no background checks in the neighborhoods.
Sen. Michael McLachlan, a Danbury Republican, said that the lockdown and the heroic actions of teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School actually saved lives.
\”How do we address the nightmare of a madman?\’\’ McLachlan asked.
On December 14, McLachlan was in Danbury, and he drove immediately to St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown.
\”Under different circumstances, I would look differently at this bill,\’\’ he said. \”Today, I\’m supporting this bill.\’\’