(Updated 7:55 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not known for his patience. So it’s not surprising that he told the Journal Inquirer’s editorial board Tuesday that he will introduce his own gun control legislation in the next few days because the legislature’s bipartisan Super Committee isn’t acting fast enough.
The comments were called “disappointing” by Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and two Republican legislative leaders, but at least one Democrat agreed with Malloy that the process seemed to be “dragging on.”
“It’s apparent to me that the legislature will not reach bipartisan consensus on this issue,” Malloy told the Journal Inquirer. “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.”
Malloy will unveil his gun control legislation tomorrow at a forum with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden in Danbury. The forum will be held at Western Connecticut State University and was organized by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal.
“At this critical juncture, in the wake of unspeakable tragedy in our own state, the governor believes that we cannot let the chance to affect real, positive change pass us by. He thinks we should act quickly and decisively to make Connecticut safer,” Andrew Doba, Malloy’s spokesman, said Wednesday.
“I’m not going to shy away from this issue,” Malloy told the Journal Inquirer. “They wanted to do this — have a big panel with 50 or 60 people on the panel — and wanted to do this on a bipartisan basis and get to the same point. I’m now looking at leaders bailing out on hearings or rallies and people coming to talk about their own personal pain instead of gun control at a gun control rally.”
But two Republicans and one Democrat disagree with Malloy about the pace of the discussions on gun control, school safety, and mental health.
“I’m disappointed with the governor’s comments,” Sharkey said. “As I said before, the country is watching Connecticut to see how we react to this tragedy, and taking quick action is important, but taking smart action is more important.”
The legislative process is sometimes slow, but “we are working deliberately to be an example of how to come together on a bipartisan basis to address a very serious and complex issue,” Sharkey said. “Our expectation was to act by the end of February or early March and we are still on that timeline.”
Senate Republican Leader John McKinney, who represents Newtown, said it’s unfortunate the governor would turn the tragedy into a political issue.
“Republicans and Democrats together have responded to the tragedy in the best way we can — in a way that’s above partisanship and politics,” McKinney said.
This was a moment that went beyond politics for many lawmakers.
“Both parties have been working very hard and in a cooperative manner. It appears the governor has unilaterally decided that there can be no bipartisan proposal,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said.
But Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he shares the governor’s concern that “this process is dragging on.”
“While this bipartisan task force has allowed us to gather input from concerned citizens from across Connecticut, it is time to pass a strong bill,” Williams said. “It remains my hope, that in the next few weeks, the legislature will take action on a substantive bill.”
Malloy’s decision to move forward with his own gun control legislation made McKinney wonder what would happen to the governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Committee, which was supposed to make recommendations to Malloy on school security, mental health, and gun control by mid-March. The committee is headed by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson.
“If the governor has all the answers then he should disband his task force and make a proposal,” McKinney said.
Doba said the governor plans to instruct the committee to move forward on the issues of school security and mental health.