HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut legislators vowed Tuesday to come up with a bipartisan response to the deadly shootings at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary Schools that addresses gun violence, mental health care and school safety.
Leaders of the General Assembly appointed a legislative task force with three subcommittees that will review current state law and propose comprehensive, emergency legislation that could be ready for a vote by the end of February.
‘‘The eyes of the country are on us right now. Both in Washington and in other states around the country, we are being looked at as a leader because we are where this occurred. We are where this tragedy happened,’’ said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. ‘‘Therefore, we have to take the responsibility to lead in a comprehensive way.’’
The group plans to cooperate with a separate task force created by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. That panel has until March 15 to provide the governor with a preliminary list of recommendations in light of the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead, as well as the shooter and his mother.
Malloy’s group is holding its first meeting on Jan. 24.
Sharkey said the legislative task force will focus on issues that Connecticut residents want addressed and where there’s consensus. He predicted there would be debates this session about other, more politically thorny issues relating to the shootings.
Lawmakers said they do not feel any pressure to move faster now that lawmakers in neighboring New York passed the first gun control bill in the aftermath of Sandy Hook. New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law on Tuesday less than an hour after it won final passage in the Legislature.
‘‘We are the state of Connecticut. We are the ones that have suffered this tragic loss and we are the ones that have to deal with it,’’ said House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk. ‘‘I don’t think any state, regardless of how quickly they act or what they do, should put any pressure on us to do anything other than ... thoughtful, meaningful and effective legislation as quickly as possible.’’
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, a longtime advocate of gun reform, said he believes the subcommittee focusing on gun violence will likely consider expanding the state’s existing assault weapons ban to include more weapons, such as the Bushmaster rifle used by the Newtown shooter.
Looney said he also expects the task force to look at expanding the list of people who should be banned from having weapons, possibly taking into account other members of the household. He said lawmakers may consider applying additional licensing requirements to a larger category of guns and ammunition, as well as requiring background checks for long guns and enhanced scrutiny for gun permit renewals.