Hartford - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's commission on the Newtown school shooting made one of the farthest reaching recommendations in the gun debate so far, suggesting Friday that the state ban the sale and possession of all semi-automatic weapons that can fire more than 10 rounds.
The proposed ban would affect both high-capacity rifles and handguns, including those currently owned lawfully in the state.
While some commission members felt the proposal was too broad and unfairly classified guns originally purchased legally as illegal assault weapons, enough of the members agreed to forward the recommendation to Malloy.
"This body has been charged and given the great responsibility and perhaps even a great opportunity to take a stand on a larger issue, an incredible issue we as a society have grappled with," said former Newtown Rep. Christopher Lyddy. "I'm on the side of let's take a stand and let's give a damn about those lives that have been lost."
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, prompting Malloy and the General Assembly to set up panels to review state laws and policies on gun violence, school security and mental health.
Malloy's panel is expected to submit an interim set of recommendations on gun violence and school safety to the governor on Monday. It then is scheduled to focus on mental health issues.
In response to Friday's recommendation, the governor said, "While I appreciate their hard work, I want to be very clear on one point - I do not support, and will not advocate for, the confiscation of firearms owned by law-abiding citizens."
Bernard Sullivan, a former Hartford police chief and a member of Malloy's Sandy Hook Commission, offered the proposal Friday. He said gun manufacturers have been able to skirt the existing assault weapons ban by modifying the physical characteristics and a different approach is needed.
"I think we should take a hard stand on firearms in this country. It is a hard stand," he said.
Sullivan said owners of the banned guns could be given a grace period to sell their weapons or turn them in to authorities.
But fellow commission member Barbara O'Connor, director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Connecticut, said the proposal was too far reaching, affecting thousands of Connecticut residents. She suggested the commission stick to its recommendation of banning any magazine or ammunition feeding device that can dispense more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
"I think we get to the point we need to be at by saying 10 rounds and that's it," she said.
Meanwhile, legislative leaders are trying to craft a bipartisan package of proposals for a possible vote by the full General Assembly, likely later this month.
Democratic members of a legislative subcommittee on gun violence recently recommended expanding the definition of assault weapons under Connecticut's existing assault weapons ban to include firearms that have one feature among a list of physical characteristics instead of two. The list includes a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, and other features.
The Democrats' proposal, which is being considered by legislative leaders, would allow gun owners who legally possessed the newly banned weapons as of July 1, 2014, to keep the guns but they would have to get a certificate from the state.