Manchester (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy plans to unveil his own proposals for toughening the state's gun control laws at a news conference today featuring Vice President Joe Biden, saying he's frustrated by the pace of the General Assembly's efforts to address the Newtown shooting rampage.
Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said the Democratic governor's "common-sense gun violence prevention proposals" will address issues such as high-capacity ammunition magazines, the state's assault weapons ban and gun storage. Western Connecticut State University will host the gun violence conference.
Malloy revealed Wednesday that he planned to unveil his own gun control measures earlier than expected because he doesn't believe the Democrat-controlled General Assembly will reach a bipartisan agreement on the issue. In an interview with the Journal Inquirer of Manchester editorial board, Malloy criticized legislative leaders for "bailing out on hearings or rallies" and accused people of "coming to talk about their personal pain instead of gun control at a gun control rally."
Both comments were obvious references to House Republican Leader Lawrence Cafero, who didn't attend last week's rally, and to Senate Republican Leader John McKinney, who spoke to the crowd of 5,500 about representing Newtown on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"It's apparent to me that the legislature will not reach bipartisan consensus on this issue," Malloy told the newspaper. "I'm always being accused of trying to play this outsized role. I've held back. It's not working, and I will very shortly be speaking on this issue on a fairly comprehensive basis."
Cafero called it "unfortunate and bewildering" that Malloy declared he's "prepared to usurp" a legislative task force before it presents its bipartisan response. Lawmakers had hoped for a vote by the full General Assembly in late February but have said the recent blizzard slowed the pace of deliberations and a vote may be held early next month.
"Both parties have been working very hard and in a cooperative manner," he said. "It appears the governor has unilaterally decided that there can be no bipartisan proposal. He wants to act before either his own task force or on the one the legislature created are scheduled to report."
Malloy's 16-member task force isn't expected to provide the governor with an interim report until mid-March on possible recommendations for law and policy changes in the wake of the shooting, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. That group is continuing its work despite Malloy's expected announcement on today.
The legislature's Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety has been reviewing issues surrounding gun violence, school security and mental health. On Tuesday, members of the school safety committee agreed to a list of consensus recommendations to be forwarded to legislative leaders for consideration in a final bill. That list includes ideas such as additional funding for reinforced entryways with ballistic glass, security cameras and mobile emergency response buttons.
Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, co-chairman of the gun violence subcommittee, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he believes a bipartisan package is possible and there are areas of agreement on gun law changes. However, he said it was too early to tell if there will be consensus on some of the more hot-button issues, such as limits on ammunition magazine sizes and changes to the state's assault weapons ban.