The Democrats distributed a 22-second YouTube clip taken last night at the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots meeting, in which House Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) responds to a question about SB 1160 — the controversial gun law enacted in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14, 2012.
The Democrats also included a transcript of that clip, which reads as follows:
- Questioner: I have a few questions here from your constituents. Because one of them was, that got sent me, is if Republicans took over the General Assembly [McKinney: Right] and if they put forward a repeal of SB 1160 [McKinney: Yep], if you were elected governor, would you sign that?
- McKinney: If the legislature repeals something, I think the governor owes a great deference to what the legislature does, and I would.
"It is unbelievable that John McKinney, who voted for the gun control bill 'SB 1160,' now says if he were governor and the legislature sent him a bill repealing the legislation, he would sign it," said Nancy DiNardo, Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman. "This is political pandering at its worst."
McKinney was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning. He did offer a response to the CT Mirror, though, in which he stood by his vote for the gun law and said:
"Unlike many others in politics, I answered his question, not a different question. It is a hypothetical most people say isn't going to happen for a number of reasons."
DiNardo then jumped on McKinney's explanation, and issued another statement.
"Senator McKinney's response is tortured, at best. And, actually, painful to read," she said. "He now claims he was addressing a hypothetical that won't occur. So that gives him license to backtrack on a big vote and pander to the crowd he's in front of? Senator McKinney is right about one thing- people are disgusted by politics as usual: the kind of politics he exhibited last night, and then today."
When the gun law came up during a Republican debate in February, McKinney called it a good first step. He said the Democratic-controlled legislature wanted to confiscate guns and limit the number that any one person could buy, and that the end result — which also contains provisions for school security and mental health — was a compromise.
"It was not if they would pass a bill, it was what they would pass," McKinney said of Democrats.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat who is running for re-election along with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, pushed for the gun law and signed it into law about a year ago.
McKinney, an eight-term state senator, is not the only Republican running for governor being targeted for his stance on the gun law — and the issue of gun violence in general.
Just last week, another GOP contender, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, drew criticism for his decision to withdraw from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
In a prepared statement, Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, and current Outreach Associate for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said:
“My mom and my family have strong ties to Danbury — it was where my mother held her first school administration job and I know it is a place that was dear to her heart. That’s why I feel betrayed to learn that Mayor Boughton is putting his personal political ambitions ahead of the safety of Connecticut families."
"In fact," Lafferty added, "the tagline for his campaign is 'People over Politics' — but the only people that this decision serves are gun lobbyists."
“We need leaders who have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and who support common-sense reforms that respect rights while protecting people — that’s what Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports and fights for. Our state has been devastated by gun violence and we will remind voters of this betrayal of our trust when it comes time to cast votes."
Boughton joined the coalition in February 2013 and previously supported reforms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals — including gun safety legislation passed in New York and Connecticut in 2013, the organization states.
According to an article by Connecticut magazine, pro-gun forces had been posting photos of $100 bills on Boughton’s Facebook page, as an offer to his campaign if he dropped out of the mayors’ coalition.
Boughton, who has said he believes Connecticut's gun law "went too far to curtail the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," offered this explanation for his decision, in a release posted on his website:
"I joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) because I believe enforcement of existing gun laws is preferable to creating new gun laws. It is clear in recent months however that Bloomberg’s mission has changed from law enforcement to simply increasing gun regulations."
In that same Connecticut Magazine article, the Connecticut Citizen's Defense League (CCDL) noted a marked increase in activity among its members in light of the state's gun law.
"There’s going to be a difference in this election because of that,” CCDL President Scott Wilson told the magazine.