NEWINGTON, Conn. -- Customers packed gun stores around Connecticut on Tuesday ahead of a vote expected to bring sweeping changes to the state's gun control laws, including a ban on the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown shooting and a new classification for more than 100 types of guns as banned assault weapons.
Lawmakers have touted the legislation expected to pass the General Assembly on Wednesday as the toughest in the country. Some measures would take effect right away, including the expansion of the state's assault weapons ban, universal background checks for all firearms sales, and a ban on the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The bill also addresses mental health and school security measures in response to the massacre.
In a state with a rich history of gun manufacturing, some companies said they feel the legislation made them into scapegoats for the deaths of 20 first-graders and six educators in the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At least one ammunition magazine maker is more seriously considering offers to leave.
"My home is in Connecticut, but at this point, I don't know if I can operate here legally come Wednesday afternoon," said Jonathan Scalise, owner of Ammunition Storage Components in New Britain. He said it's unclear to him whether employees in possession of banned firearms or ammunition would be breaking the law.
Gun shops across the state reported brisk sales Tuesday and said customers also checked on the status of orders that they worried could be canceled once the new laws take effect.
The parking lot at Hoffman's Gun Center and Indoor Range in Newington was full Tuesday morning, with some drivers parking on the front lawn. Inside, customers waited in long lines to purchase what was left.