HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy harshly criticized gun industry lobbyists on Sunday, saying they are doing too little to halt gun violence.
Just three days after he signed into law new restrictions on weapons and large-capacity magazines, the governor compared Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, to clowns and said lobbyists want to ensure that the industry can sell guns indiscriminately.
“Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus,” Malloy said of LaPierre on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They get the most attention and that’s what he’s paid to do.”
Representatives of the NRA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible even if they’re deranged, even if they’re mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background,” Malloy said. “They don’t care. They want to sell guns.”
Robert Crook, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition of Sportsmen, a lobbying group, said Malloy’s criticism was “absolutely false.”
“It’s another political statement from a governor with little knowledge,” he said.
Connecticut’s gun industry supports a gun trafficking task force and tighter background checks of buyers, Crook said.
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, said the Democratic governor was criticizing lobbyists, not the gun industry. Malloy has said he wants Connecticut’s large gun industry to remain in the state, though gun manufacturers say the new restrictions will hurt their business.
“People are welcome to stay in our state as long as they’re producing a product that can be sold in the United States legally,” Malloy said.
Nearly four months after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, lawmakers and Malloy enacted legislation that adds more than 100 firearms to the state’s assault weapons ban. It also immediately bans the sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. People who purchased those guns and magazines before midnight Wednesday will be allowed to keep them if they’re registered with the state police before Jan. 1.
Required background checks for private gun sales also take effect.
Other parts of the new law include a ban on armor-piercing bullets, establishment of a deadly weapon offender registry, expansion of circumstances when a person’s mental health history disqualifies them from holding a gun permit, mandatory reporting of voluntary hospital commitments, doubled penalties for gun trafficking and other firearms violations, and $1 million to fund the statewide firearms trafficking task force.
Malloy said he preferred an “all-out ban” on magazines of more than 10 rounds of ammunition, but the legislature opposed him on the issue.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)