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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
Hundreds of workers from Colt Manufacturers told lawmakers new gun control laws will put them out of work at a rally at the state Capitol in Hartford Thursday morning.
"Save our jobs," employees at the demonstration shouted.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is pushing for a ban on certain military-style weapons, which could affect companies such as Colt Manufacturers, Stag Arms and Ammunition Storage Components.
"We are for safer Connecticut," said Mike Holmes, who is a Colt Manufacturers employee. "We have been at the table. We want to continue to be at the table."
Colt Manufacturers told Eyewitness News that the company sold 10,000 AR-15s in 2011 and then in 2012, they sold 100,000.
The Colt factory emptied out its doors Thursday, so close to 500 employees could rally near the State Armory.
The group was scheduled to meet with lawmakers about proposed legislation that would limit the sale of guns here in Connecticut.
Earlier this week, representatives from Stag Arms, based in New Britain, spoke with Eyewitness News about being affected if lawmakers were to ban assault weapons.
If Connecticut lawmakers pass an assault weapons ban, officials with Stag Arms said the AR-15 would not be completely illegal, but it would eliminate certain features, such as the pistol grip.
If that happens, Stag Arms officials said they would not be able to make a version they could sell in Connecticut.
"Banning certain firearms for purely cosmetic reasons will make no one in Connecticut safer, but it will have a severe impact on a vital New Britain industry," said Stag Arms owner Mark Malkowski in a statement to the media Thursday.
But Connecticut Against Gun Violence says lives are at stake, if lawmakers fail to act.
"We feel it should be done," said Ron Pinciaro of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. "Other states have acted the country are watching us."
Hundreds of employees from the gun manufacturers attended a community forum at New Britain High School, which will be hosted by Malloy. The hour-long conversation was mostly dominated by talk of guns.
"Making a semi-automatic rifle illegal based on cosmetic features, I don't see how that will do anything to make a safer state of Connecticut," Malkowski said about laws banning the popular AR-15.
However, the governor had an answer for the gun manufacturer.
"This weapon, you might be a manufacturer of it," Malloy said. "It is inherently dangerous and has the capacity to kill or maim large numbers of people in very short periods of time."
If the AR-15 were to be banned from sale in this state, Malkowski, who left the meeting visibly upset, said he may be forced to move.
"It's hard enough to do business in Connecticut in general," he said. "It's going to be even harder to if such laws get passed."
"We're not going to make anyone leave the state of Connecticut," Malloy said. "Provided they are making something that can be legally sold somewhere in the United States."
A special state, bipartisan legislative task force was created after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed.
The task force was formed to make suggestions for changes affecting guns, mental health and school security.
The special committee made more than a dozen recommendations to the governor.
In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a ban on assault weapons and large ammunition magazines.
However, it still must be voted on in the full Senate and House of Representatives.
Another hearing on gun control was held in Connecticut Thursday where people on both sides were heard by the public safety committee on a number of proposals.
One bill would require background checks for private sales and gun shows. Another would prevent those with a mental illness from getting a permit.
"The concerns can be individually addressed to determine that person is presenting worrisome behaviors," said James McGaughy, who is the executive director of Connecticut's Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities.
The Connecticut General Assembly could end up voting on not just one bill, but three, with one on school safety, another on mental health and a third on guns.
A vote is expected to take place in about two weeks.
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