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In Connecticut, where less than four months ago Adam Lanza fired 154 shots in four minutes from a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, killing 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, lawmakers passed and Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) signed what some called the most comprehensive gun control measure in the nation. The measure (SB 1160), drafted over the last month by a bipartisan group of legislative leaders, among other things bans the sale of magazines carrying 10 or more bullets, expands the state's existing ban on assault weapons, mandates background checks on all firearms purchasers and establishes a registry of weapons offenders. Gun owners and manufacturers, who had packed the Capitol carrying signs that said "Connecticut the Un-Constitution State," "N.R.A. Stand and Fight" and "Shall Not Be Infringed," said the legislation focused on the wrong issues. "It's a mental health issue, not a firearms issue," said Jake McGuigan, director of government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown. "Nothing in this legislation would have stopped what happened in this horrible tragedy in Sandy Hook." The legislation includes mental health provisions, such as the creation of a program to help teachers recognize signs of mental illness, but Sen. Donald E. Williams Jr. (D) said mental health isn't the only issue involved in mass shootings. "It's access to the weapons of war, the access to the weapons that can kill mass amounts of children or adults in our schools and in our communities," he said. "That's the essential issue when it comes to mass killings." In general, however, lawmakers were deeply divided on the issue. Two of the 22 Democrats in the Senate and 13 of the 98 Democrats in the House voted against the bill, and six of the 14 Republicans in the Senate and 20 of the 51 Republicans in the House voted for it. Sen. Catherine Osten, one of the Democrats who cast a no vote, said: "I also cried when those children died that day, as everyone here did, and if I could assure those parents that this legislation would stop that from happening again, I would vote yes." (NEW YORK TIMES, STATE NET)
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