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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
Following a debate that lasted several hours, the Connecticut Senate passed the toughest gun control laws in the country, and now the package heads to the House.
On Monday, a bipartisan agreement on gun control was unveiled by lawmakers that proposed limiting magazines to no more than 10 rounds. Those who currently have larger magazines would have to register them with state police.
The legislation, which is more than 100 pages long, also proposed strong penalties for anyone who carries large ammunition magazines away from home or a gun range.
The state would also become the first in the country to create a dangerous weapon offender registry and there would be universal background checks for assault weapons.
Just after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Connecticut Senate voted 26-10 to pass the gun control legislation and the House took up around 7 p.m.
The deal comes more than three months after the Sandy Hook shooting. On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother while she slept in her bed before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six adults. He then killed himself as police entered the school.
For many, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook was the tipping point. However, gun supporters told Eyewitness News they feel the proposals go too far and won't make Connecticut residents any safer.
"Just say no," gun rights advocates chanted at the state Capitol.
Early Wednesday morning, the parking lot outside Cabela's sporting goods in East Hartford was packed with people, mostly gun owners, who got on buses and headed to the State Capitol.
"I do lobbying in Maryland and the legislation down there has listened to the public outcry," said Jake McGuigan of National Shooting Sports Foundation. "They have listened to the people who showed up at hearings and the gun owners and have made changes and amendments that were less ownership."
"I thought it was a good bill. We of course wanted more," said Ron Pinciaro of Connecticut Against Violence. "I think it was good. I think the states are satisfied with what we did. And I think the country is satisfied with what we did."
Inside the Senate chambers Wednesday, lawmakers debated the legislation.
"Making it more onerous, more cumbersome, more burdensome on law-abiding citizens in our state is not the solution," said state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, who got a round of applause from the gallery of gun rights advocates after he made the statement.
State Sen. Ed Meyer said he wanted to make all 30 round ammunition magazines illegal and said if Lanza had to reload more often, maybe more children could have escaped.
"They felt they worked very hard the leadership from both parties to put this bill together," he said. "It is a remarkable strong bill."
Leadership feared Meyer's amendment would jeopardize the bill and he agreed not to propose the amendment. He said he may propose it next year.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation said in a statement Tuesday a public hearing should be held to address "a large number of unanswered questions."
"They are arbitrarily restricting second amendment rights based on cosmetic features," McGuigan said. "They are banning rifles not used in the commission of crimes."
On Wednesday, the Connecticut Education Association, which represents 43,000 teachers in the state, "applauded" the legislation proposed by Connecticut lawmakers and said it will help keep schools safe.
"The Sandy Hook tragedy spurred legislators to develop one of the toughest gun and school safety laws in the nation. We are proud of their efforts to protect our children and our teachers," said CEA President Sheila Cohen in a statement Wednesday. "This is a good day for students, teachers, parents and the state of Connecticut."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a press conference Tuesday said that if this deal was passed by both the House and Senate, he will sign it into law.