The families who lost their loved ones to bullets fired from one of the 30-round magazines the Newtown gunman used to kill their children, daughters, and spouses were forceful Monday about their desire to see them banned.
“We specifically want an up or down vote on the banning of these large-capacity magazines,” Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan, told reporters at a Capitol press conference Monday. “No grandfathering clause.”
Hockley and other parents joined in delivering the message just a few hours before rank-and-file lawmakers got their first glimpse of the bipartisan package of legislation. A vote could come as early as Wednesday, but legislative leaders first need to find out what they will be able to get passed. A ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 bullets has been one of the more controversial items up for discussion.
“We learned the way no other parent should learn that the most dangerous, dangerous part of an assault weapon is the magazine,” Hockley said.
The truth of the matter, which search warrants from state prosecutors last week confirmed, was that 154 bullets were fired in less than five minutes, killing 20 children and six educators.
“We ask ourselves every day, every minute, that if those magazines had held 10 rounds — forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times — would our children be alive today?” Hockley said.
William Sherlach, the husband of Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist who ran toward the sound of gunfire on Dec. 14, said he wonders what would have happened if the gunman was forced to reload 15 times with smaller magazines than the six times he reloaded the 30-round magazines.
He said lawmakers must ban even existing high-capacity magazines because if they don’t they’re “leaving a gaping loophole on what we believe is the most dangerous feature of an assault weapon.”
He said that by not closing that loophole, people will be able to purchase high-capacity magazines in other states and bring them back to Connecticut where individuals may claim they owned them before the ban went into effect.
He said the Sandy Hook parents and families want an “up or down vote on the banning of high-capacity magazines and the elimination of the grandfather clause.”
Mark and Jackie Barden, who lost their son, Daniel, were at the state Capitol last week speaking to lawmakers about the legislative package being negotiated. He said the banning of the high-capacity magazines is the last piece they “want to get across the finish line.”
Gun groups have argued that forcing them to give up their high-capacity magazines constitutes confiscation of property they purchased while it was legal.
Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, has said that since the government would not be taking the magazines for public use, it would be a regulatory taking. He said there’s no need for the government to offer compensation since owners of this type of ammunition would be given an opportunity to sell it, destroy it, or turn it over to law enforcement.
Barden said he didn’t consider it to be confiscation.
Twenty-four family members wrote to lawmakers Monday asking them to ban high-capacity magazines.
Lawmakers will meet behind closed-doors later this afternoon to discuss the various proposals. When negotiations are completed, Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield said he believes Connecticut’s will be the most “comprehensive package” of gun legislation in the country.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called for a ban on high-capacity magazines as well and reiterated his support for the measure Saturday.
“I think we should be banning the ownership of high-capacity magazines,” Malloy said.
McKinney, a Republican who represents Newtown, agrees.
“There are first-grade parents in Newtown whose kids were able to flee that school who believe their kids lives very well may have been spared because of the changing of magazines and the time it took to reload,” McKinney said last week.