So far, Malloy avoids veto threat in gun-control campaign

As legislative leaders try to conclude bipartisan gun-control talks, the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is walking a fine line by pushing a ban on the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, yet stopping short of threatening to veto weaker legislation.

"We haven't said the V word, but we have been clear about what the governor wants," Mark Ojakian, the governor's chief of staff, said Thursday after a visit to his office by the chiefs of staff for the House and Senate Democratic majorities.

The magazine issue has emerged as a potentially pivotal point in talks that leaders hope will result in the passage of bipartisan legislation next week that would be Connecticut's response to the Dec. 14 massacre of 26 children and women at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Gun-control groups are returning Friday to the State Capitol to deliver letters from the families of Newtown victims and to press for a vote on the possession of large-capacity magazines.

Legislators say there is little question that the legislation will be significant in scope, with a new standard for universal background checks on gun purchases and bans on the retail sale of military-style weapons and large-capacity magazines like those used in the attack.

Democratic legislative leaders say they back Malloy's call to ban the sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, but they have refused to rule out a "grandfather provision" allowing their continued possession of magazines purchased prior to a ban.

Malloy and gun-control advocates say that a such provision is acceptable for firearms, which carry serial numbers and are traceable, but not for magazines, which carry no markings. They say banning the sale, but not the possession of large-capacity magazines would be pointless.

Ojakian declined to talk in detail about his briefing by Derek Slap and Maureen Magnan, the chiefs of staff for Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn and House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey of Hamden.

"We were just talking about the process," Ojakian said.

Slap and Magnan left Ojakian's office and returned to the continuing talks among House and Senate leaders of both parties.

Meanwhile, a new issue arose in the talks that drew in Malloy: a complaint by legislators, particularly House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, about leaks of details of the Sandy Hook investigation that continue even as authorities decline to brief lawmakers.

"Like many others, I was disappointed and angered to learn that certain information about the Newtown shooting had been leaked, specifically with concern for the victims' families who may have been hearing this news for the first time," Malloy said in a statement. "Today, my office contacted the Chief State's Attorney. I requested, and they have agreed, to release additional information relevant to the investigation and to provide a status on where the investigation currently stands. This information will be provided by Friday, March 29."

But Malloy responded sharply to the suggestion that a police briefing is necessary before legislators act.

“To Mr. Cafero and those others I must ask: What more could you possibly need to know?" Malloy said. "We know for a fact that on December 14, a very disturbed young man took a military-style rifle with high-capacity magazines into a school and murdered 20 innocent children and six innocent adults."