Christine Stuart file photo
Upon hearing that the 15,000-member Connecticut Citizens Defense League endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley Friday morning, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy could barely contain his excitement.

“I’m shocked. I’m shocked,” Malloy said with a grin on his face.

Malloy said Foley would repeal the stricter gun laws passed post-Newtown, if a bill makes it to his desk.

“When a governor says he’ll sign a bill or he’ll sign a repeal he’s actually advocating a position,” Malloy said. “If people want to rollback regulations that have lowered crime and made children safer, and made teachers safer, and made parents safer and make communities safer … then you know, I guess they know who their guy is because he just got endorsed by an organization that advocates doing every one of those things.”

The Second Amendment group, which saw its membership grow in response to the post-Newtown gun control measures taken by the legislature, said after carefully considering the issues it has decided to endorse Foley and his running mate Heather Bond Somers.

“Governor Dannel Malloy has a proven track record of supporting anti-rights legislation and has vilified and ostracized Connecticut gun owners throughout his term,” the group said in an email. “It is time for him to be to be replaced. We strongly believe that the team of Tom Foley and Heather Somers will take Connecticut in a new direction that is so desperately needed.”

In addition to Foley and Somers, the group endorsed the rest of the Republican ticket and Democratic Sens. Cathy Osten and Andy Maynard. Democratic State Reps. Ed Jutila, Linda Orange, Dan Rovero, Peggy Sayers, Buddy Altobello, Lou Esposito, and Kevin Ryan were also endorsed by the group.

Joe Visconti, the Republican who petitioned his way onto the ballot, and has made gun rights a central part of his platform was snubbed by the group.

On Monday, Visconti said he blocked on Facebook several board members from the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. He said he had received several concerning and “vitriolic” posts from members of the 2nd Amendment group who support Foley.

“I don’t like to block folks, I’m a huge First Amendment guy, but it’s off the reservation,” Visconti said about the posts. “I know these guys, we’ve politically bled together for years. To watch my own go like this, I mean, wow.”

Foley said that he never sought the group’s endorsement, but was happy to “have anybody’s endorsement” in what is expected to be a close race.

However, it’s unclear how much their endorsement will help his candidacy.

“I don’t know if Tom wants their endorsement,” Visconti said earlier this week. “I don’t think he can run fast enough away from it.”

A Quinnipiac University poll in May suggested that 56 percent of voters support the 2013 gun control law.

Click here to read the rest of CCDL’s endorsements.