Lawmakers push for federal action on gun violence - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers push for federal action on gun violence

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The victims of the Newtown school sit down with Scott Pelley from '60 Minutes.' The victims of the Newtown school sit down with Scott Pelley from '60 Minutes.'
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Now that the governor of Connecticut has signed the new gun control laws into legislation, the families affected by the Newtown school shooting are focusing on leaders in Washington D.C.

"This is a marathon," said William Sherlach, the husband of Sandy Hook Elementary School psychologist Mary Sherlach, who was killed on Dec. 14. "And you have to be prepared to run all 26 miles. This is not a sprint."

On that day, 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"I was not present for the bill signing, choosing instead to witness the birthday celebration of Anna Marquez Greene who would have turned 7 on April 4," said Newtown First Selectwoman Pat LLodro.

On Friday morning, United States senators for Connecticut gathered on the steps of Hartford City Hall to turn that focus to the nation's capital.

"The most difficult question I am asked is how can 92 percent of the American people favor background checks and bans on illegal safety," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "And the NRA (National Rifle Association) hold so much sway."

Connecticut's congressional leaders told Eyewitness News they are proud of what the state has done, but were disappointed that the United States Congress cannot do the same.

"We live in a reality in Washington in which we cannot pass a bill without Republicans and Democrats supporting it," said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. "We hope this week is a turning point because we showed here in Connecticut Republicans and Democrats can work together."

Despite reassurances from President Barack Obama that they would renew the assault weapons ban and get universal background checks, nothing has passed.

No law will ever bring William Sherlach's wife back, but he, along with many of the other families, is still planning to fight for changes.

"Get the legislation. Get it now. And then it fades. Time goes by. News cycles happen. Other headlines come up," William Sherlach told 60 Minutes. "Now when you take a multifaceted approach, and you can build a wagon big enough for a grassroots movement to get involved, it has the legs to go the 26 miles."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill into law Thursday afternoon that will bring sweeping changes to gun control.

Immediately after the bipartisan agreement on gun control was signed, it made more than 100 additional guns illegal, stopped the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds, and implemented universal background checks.

In July, permits will be required for all long guns and ammunition.

William Sherlach told 60 Minutes he's accepted pushing for this legislation will be his new lifelong pursuit.

"Shame on me if it's not," he said.

There will be challenges to the new Connecticut law. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which is the state's largest grass roots gun rights group, said it is planning to fight parts of it and have called it unconstitutional.

Obama will be speaking at the Sports Center at the University of Hartford on Monday evening where he is expected to encourage national lawmakers to do as Connecticut has done.

University of Hartford officials said that the tickets will be released at 5 p.m. and long lines have already formed.

There is a lot of confusion among firearms owners.

"The change of the speed and ease of getting ammunition will change if I am not here," said Jamil Eyvazzadeh, who is a gun owner. "For example, if I go hunting."

Employees at gun clubs told Eyewitness News they have fielded a number of calls from those trying to understand what they need to know.

"What we are trying to do is digest and read through the new bill," said Greg Maglieri of the Hartford Gun Club in East Granby.

Maglieri said a lot of effort goes into making the range as safe as possible. 

A lot of his members are not happy with the new laws, but the focus now is understand them and complying.

"And I think January is the final date when the bill will be fully enacted," Maglieri said. "So there is a time period where we are all going to have to look at it."

The Connecticut Republicans have released a list of the most frequently asked questions on the new gun laws. Click the following link to read the all.

To read the full law, click the following link.

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