Video report by Mike Magnoli, Fox CT
Text by Kelly Glista, Hartford Courant
HARTFORD — Almost a year to the day after the state legislature passed a historic and far-reaching gun control law, thousands of opponents of the law gathered at the state Capitol on Saturday to remind legislators that they aren’t going anywhere.
The rally, organized by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, drew supporters from all over the state and from other states to the Capitol lawn on Saturday, two days after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy commemorated the passage of SB 1160, which expanded the state’s existing ban on assault weapons.
“We’re the Constitution State and they passed a law that was completely unconstitutional,” CCDL vice president Lenny Benedetto said.
Gun rights groups from as far away as Mississippi showed up to show their support for the state’s gun owners. Benedetto said that the rest of the country knows that Connecticut is “ground zero” for gun control legislation, and that if laws like SB 1160 are allowed to stand, “they will spread like a disease.”
The law, the legislature’s response to the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, required that the owners of firearms defined as assault weapons submit to new registration procedures, and the same for the owners of large-capacity ammunition magazines prohibited under the new legislation. More than 50,000 weapons have been registered so far, the governor said in a press release Thursday.
CCDL president Scott Wilson said that the law “made the Second Amendment a privilege and not a right” and that lawmakers used the massacre in Newtown as a “fig leaf” to cover them while they took the rights of gun owners.
“A tragedy in a small, quiet town in Connecticut gave these lawmakers plenty of cover,” he said.
In his press release Thursday, Malloy said that the law is making Connecticut safer.
“In the wake of one of the worst tragedies to befall our state, we took clear and decisive action to make all residents in every one of our cities and towns safer,” he said. “The common sense limitations we put in place will make sure that guns are less likely to fall into the hands of someone who shouldn’t have one.”
Carrying signs saying “Repeal SB 1160” and “Second Amendment, Non-Negotiable,” the crowd did not agree with the governor’s assessment. The CCDL hopes that Saturday’s rally served to remind supporters and lawmakers that elections are on the horizon and that laws can be changed, Benedetto said.
“If you voted for SB 1160, we’re going to vote you out,” he said.