HARTFORD, Conn., April 3 (UPI) -- The Connecticut Senate voted 26-10 Wednesday evening to toughen the gun control laws in the state devastated by a schoolhouse massacre.
Two of the body's 22 Democrats and eight of 14 Republicans voted against the measure, which was sent to the House where approval was expected early Thursday, the Hartford Courant reported. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the bipartisan bill if it reaches his desk, the newspaper said.
"This is a new and historic model for the country on an issue that has typically been the most controversial and divisive. We in Connecticut are breaking new ground today," Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said before the vote.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, whose district includes Newtown, said he and others had been working "to see what we can do to heal that community -- if we can do anything."
"What we can do to make Connecticut safer? ... I'm proud that we've done that," McKinney said.
The legislation unveiled Monday is regarded as the toughest in the country. Malloy called the bipartisan agreement "arguably the most comprehensive package in the country," and referred to it as "a very strong statement to the rest of the country."
The legislation would enact an immediate ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, prohibit the sale and purchase of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and require universal background checks on all purchasers of firearms.
The bipartisan deal comes more than three months after the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, WFSB-TV, Hartford, noted.
Outside the ornate government chambers in Hartford Wednesday, opponents of the legislation packed the hallways before the Senate vote, chanting "Just say no" as legislators walked by. Many arrived on buses that left a sporting goods store, full, every 15 minutes, the newspaper said.