Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill into law Thursday afternoon that will bring sweeping changes to gun control.
On Monday, a bipartisan agreement on gun control was unveiled by lawmakers that proposed limiting magazines to no more than 10 rounds. Those who currently have larger magazines would have to register them with state police.
The legislation, which is more than 100 pages long, will create strong penalties for anyone who carries large ammunition magazines away from home or a gun range.
The state would also become the first in the country to create a dangerous weapon offender registry and there would be universal background checks for assault weapons.
The House and the Senate voted in favor of the 139-page bill crafted by leaders from both major parties in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.
Just after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Connecticut Senate voted 26-10 to pass the gun control legislation and the House passed the bill 105-44 just before 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
"The right to guns in this country is not universal and absolute," said Speaker of the House Brendan Sparkey. "There are reasonable regulations that can be and should be applied to their use in the public. And I think this (bill) strikes that balance."
On Thursday, Malloy said he hoped the signing of the bill will set an "example for the rest of the nation."
"This is a profoundly emotional day for everyone in this room and in this state," Malloy said.
Malloy told the audience that 92 percent of people support universal background checks for assault weapons.
"We can make Connecticut cities and towns safer," he said. "And this bill does that."
The bill was intended to help the grieving families of Newtown, who lost loved ones on Dec. 14 when 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy said.
"I can't begin to tell you how much this means to us that our voices have been heard," said Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan in the Sandy Hook tragedy."We have said from the outset that Newtown to be known not for our tragedy, but for our transformation. And this law marks the turning point."
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which is the state's largest grass roots gun rights group, said the organization stands "united with gun owners" and pledged "correct this legislative travesty through litigation, or any legal avenue available."
"While many in our state felt the need to do something in response to the Newtown tragedy, we believe that the actions that were taken to pass this law were wrong," said its president Scott Wilson. "The new law violates our constitutional rights, along with traditions of our celebrated history of Connecticut."
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League will be hosting a rally at the State Capitol in Hartford on April 20 with the author More Guns Less Crime as one of the guest speakers.
Newtown Police Chief Michael K. Kehoe along with members of the United States and Connecticut delegation as well as victims of gun violence attended the ceremony.
"Our children are crying out from the gun violence for us to stop this gun violence," said Deborah Davis.
Davis's son, Phillip Davis, was shot and killed in Hartford in January 2010.
"Guns need to be curtailed," Davis said. "This is a great step forward."
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