As lawmakers vote on sweeping gun control legislation Wednesday, they will have an audience of unhappy gun owners, according to the head of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.
Lawmakers plan to vote on an emergency certified bill on Wednesday, a bill that has been described as the “most comprehensive” piece of gun control legislation in the country. The bill is the product of weeks of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to craft a response to the Dec. 14 murder of 20 first graders and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown.
In the months since the shooting, Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, has helped to organize demonstrations and lobby days at the state Capitol that have been attended by thousands of the state’s residents who oppose stricter gun regulations.
Although Crook said he does not believe it will change the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, he said gun owners will organize again as lawmakers head into session. He said he and other organizations already have begun sending out emails.
In March, the National Rifle Association held a lobby day during which busloads of gun owners were brought in from the Cabela’s sporting goods store in East Hartford. Crook said he expects the same thing will happen Wednesday.
“They’ll make their voices known,” he said.
Crook said he expected gun owners will start arriving at the Capitol in the morning and many will stay until lawmakers have finished voting.
“We expect to stay most of the night,” he said.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League posted an entry on their blog Tuesday titled “Go Watch Them Vote Away Your Rights.” The post encourages members to be civil and to assemble in the galleries above the House and Senate.
“If they are going to take away our rights, they are going to do it to our faces. We are going to be there; watching,” the post reads.
Gun and magazine manufacturers testified before the legislature several times at various public hearings since the session began. They said passage of stricter gun legislation could cost the state jobs.
Jonathan Scalise, owner of New Britain-based manufacturer Ammunition Storage Components, said he was disappointed that lawmakers seemed to have disregarded the information he and firearm manufacturers tried to convey. He said he didn’t believe any of the proposals in the legislation would have prevented the shooting in Newtown.
One provision, however, would ban the sale of ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds. The magazines make up a large percentage of what Scalise’s company manufactures.
“If what I’ve seen of the legislation passes, 52 percent of what I make will be illegal in Connecticut,” he said.
Scalise said he has concerns about whether distributors will still want to do business with a company from a state that passes laws like the one lawmakers have proposed. He employs about 150 people in New Britain, but said other states have been courting his business since the gun debate began in Connecticut.
“We’ve had seven different offers from seven different states,” he said, adding that he is evaluating and considering the offers. “I don’t want to leave, but I have a fiduciary obligation to run the business.”