Gun violence task force meets for final time - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Gun violence task force meets for final time

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Three subcommittees of a special state Legislative task force on gun violence and children's safety have until Feb. 15 to present their suggestions on changes affecting guns, mental health and school security.

The group is now sifting through more than 100 bills, emails and hours of public testimony to come up with recommendations for policy and law changes following the deadly school shooting in Newtown last December.

A final informational meeting with police and public safety officials was held Monday before beginning deliberations.

After a hearing on gun violence went until the wee hours of the morning one week ago, lawmakers played catch up, tied up loose ends with critically important speakers as they begin to craft a plan for guns and its role in our state.

"What needs to be focused on is making firearms, whatever kind they are, whatever type they are, inaccessible to unauthorized individuals and criminals," said Larry Keane, who is a spokesman for a gun maker.

The statement by Keane was the consensus from the panel consisting of gun manufacturers, municipalities and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.

Keane, who was representing local gun makers, said they're in favor of more thorough background checks and said there are gaping holes in the current system that doesn't account for mental health histories for firearms customers and sellers.

"That would require a change to the Brady Act to allow retailers and licensees and manufacturers support it, to have access to the background check system to screen for prospective employees," Keane said.

Local police chiefs agree with that statement.

"I wouldn't say we're lax," said Cromwell Police Chief Anthony Salvatore. "I just think this is an area that needs to be tightened up and we've offered some suggestions."

The harmony between gun makers and gun opponents may end there. Magazine capacity is still a hot issue and gun makers told Eyewitness that they aren't backing down.

"You can always change a magazine," Keane said. "It takes no time at all to change a magazine, so limiting the size of the magazine? You can just carry more magazines and change it in a split second."

With the proposed changes to gun laws, some manufacturers told Eyewitness News that they are fed up and even threatened to move out.

"One large magazine manufacturer has left the state already since the Legislature took this issue up two years ago," Keane said.

A common 30-bullet capacity magazine was used as a point of reference at this hearing and police chiefs on record said it should be lower.

"Our suggestion is 10," said Salvatore said. "We believe 10 is adequate."

Lawmakers said they are hoping to have bills ready to go by the end of February.

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