Connecticut residents flock to gun stores as state is expected to pass sweeping law
NEWINGTON, Conn. -- Customers packed gun stores around Connecticut on Tuesday ahead of a vote expected to bring sweeping changes to the state's gun control laws, including a ban on the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown shooting and a new classification for more than 100 types of guns as banned assault weapons.
Lawmakers have touted the legislation expected to pass the General Assembly on Wednesday as the toughest in the country. Some measures would take effect right away, including the expansion of the state's assault weapons ban, universal background checks for all firearms sales, and a ban on the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The bill also addresses mental health and school security measures in response to the massacre.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, supports the bill and could sign it into law as soon as Wednesday night.
Gun shops across the state reported brisk sales Tuesday and said customers also checked on the status of orders that they worried could be canceled once the new laws take effect.
The parking lot at Hoffman's Gun Center and Indoor Range in Newington was full Tuesday morning, with some drivers parking on the front lawn.
"I walked through. I walked out because they didn't have anything. The girl told me what's on the shelf is what they have. And I totally believe that," said Nick Viccione, a gun owner from Wallingford. He said people are trying to load up on ammunition and buy "anything semi-automatic."
The gun industry in Connecticut dates back to the Revolutionary War and says it supports more than 7,000 jobs in the state. Some companies say the new restrictions have them considering a move.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons Inc. in North Haven does not support a ban on firearms or equipment, said Joe Bartozzi.
Mossberg has been in business since 1919 and employs 270 workers in Connecticut. It also has a manufacturing plant in Eagle Pass, Texas, and has been courted for years by other states.
Mark Malkowski, owner and president of Stag Arms in New Britain, said he's not threatening to move but that his biggest concern about staying in Connecticut is "staying in a state that does not support us."
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