Diplomacy, discretion mark day one of gun talks

The leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly emerged from gun-control negotiations Wednesday night to offer an account carefully constructed from the noncommittal language of diplomacy.

It was "good and productive." They "remain optimistic." Everyone came in "good faith." And, of course, "everything is on the table."

Summit

Sen. Donald E. Williams Jr., Reps. J. Brendan Sharkey and Lawrence F. Cafero Jr.

The Democratic and Republican legislative leaders met for a little more than two hours, interrupted by roll call votes, to see if they can assemble a bipartisan legislative response to the mass murder of 26 children and women at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

A positive sign: They are scheduled to resume talks Thursday at 11 a.m. in the conference room of House Speaker J.  Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. A mixed sign: They also are setting aside time on Friday, indicating they are not close to a deal, but they are hopeful.

"We're going to take it one day at a time and keep talking," said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.

Williams has staked out an aggressive position: A minimally acceptable bill would have to ban large-capacity ammo magazines and broaden the reach of the state's 20-year-old assault weapon ban.

"I'll stand by those remarks," Williams said. "But I do just want to emphasize that we are making progress."

Democrats and Republicans on a bipartisan gun-violence task force failed to produce a unified list of recommendations earlier this week, with the GOP declining to endorse a tighter assault weapon ban or restrictions of large-capacity magazines.

Were those points of discussion Wednesday?

"We're talking about a lot of things," said House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.

Williams, who pushed for a deadline of March 13 -- the three-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders -- said that timetable now appears to be "aggressive," with the following week now a possibility.

"That's the goal, ASAP," Cafero said.

The parley came on the same day that General Assembly voted unanimously for legislation creating a special fund for first responders, teachers and others who suffered psychological trauma from the mass murder of 26 children and women in Newtown.

Follow Mark Pazniokas on Twitter @CtMirrorPaz

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