Sandy Hook panel urges broader gun controls

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission ignored the politics cramping gun-control legislation now under negotiation and issued an interim report Monday recommending broad restrictions on the sale and possession of semiautomatic firearms and ammunition in Connecticut.

The independent panel appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after the shooting deaths of 26 children and women at Sandy Hook Elementary eschewed references to "assault weapons" and urged a ban on the possession of any firearm capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading.

In an implicit rebuke to previous assault weapon bans and current negotiations that focus on military features, the commission said those bills forced cosmetic changes to firearms without reducing their "lethality," which the panel closely links to high-capacity magazines.

"It is the consensus of the Commission that firearm lethality is correlated to capacity, a correlation borne out not only in Sandy Hook Elementary School, but in other violent confrontations in and beyond Connecticut," the panel wrote.

State police say Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15, a semiautomatic military-style rifle, and 30-round magazines to kill 20 first-graders and six educators in a matter of a few minutes, primarily in two classrooms in the Newtown school. He took his own life with a handgun.

The report was issued as Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate were trying Monday to conclude negotiations on the scope of gun-violence legislation, including a ban on the retail sale -- but not the possession -- of legally purchased assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Gun-control advocates and Malloy object to any legislation allowing the continued possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Since magazines are largely untraceable, it would be impossible to determine if a magazine was purchase before or after a sales ban.

The commission also recommended background checks on the sale or transfer of any firearms and the creation of a gun registry to dissuade straw purchasers from selling weapons to ineligible buyers, such as convicted felons.

Legislators are certain to require universal background checks in their legislation, but gun registration is vehemently opposed by gun owners.

House Republicans were scheduled to hold a caucus Monday afternoon to be updated on the status of the talks by House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.

If the General Assembly is unable to vote on Sandy Hook legislation by the end of the week, it will have a limited window the following week due to Jewish and Christian observances for Passover and Easter.

Passover begins Monday.

Related: Full text of Sandy Hook Advisory Commission interim report

Related: Gun control advocates mobilize over fear of weaker ban