HARTFORD, Conn. - After a debate that was at moments impassioned and agonized, the state's Senate on Wednesday evening approved a far-reaching measure that proponents say is their toughest-in-the-nation response to the Dec. 14 school massacre in Newtown.
Approval of the emergency bill came by a 26-10 vote - with two Democrats and eight Republicans opposed. The measure was sent to the House, where approval is expected Thursday.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he will sign the bill.
"This is a new and historic model for the country on an issue that has typically been the most controversial and divisive. We in Connecticut are breaking new ground today," said Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, whose district includes Newtown, said that after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, "I've been working, as have others to see what we can do to heal that community - if we can do anything. What we can do to make Connecticut safer? I'm proud that we've done that."
The vote came after weeks of negotiation between legislative leaders of the Democratic majority and Republican minority.
The legislation will expand the state's existing ban on assault weapons to cover a long list of firearms, including the Bushmaster used by Newtown killer Adam Lanza. Also, the sale and purchase of large-capacity ammo magazines holding more than 10 rounds will be prohibited, and universal background checks on all sales of guns will begin.
In a compromise, owners of large-capacity magazines will not be required to turn them in, although they will have to be registered with the state by Jan. 1, 2014. Likewise, people who already own semiautomatic rifles defined as assault weapons may keep them if they submit to new registration procedures.
Beginning Oct. 1, all purchases of ammunition and long guns will require an eligibility certificate. To obtain certification to buy ammunition, purchasers need to pass a federal background check. For the first time, a "dangerous weapon offender" registry will be created, and penalties for illegal gun trafficking will be expanded.
Even though Wednesday's outcome was known in advance - with House and Senate leaders having already said there was no doubt they had the votes to pass the bill - it was still a day of tumult in the Capitol.
Hundreds of gun owners jammed the halls of the building - some carrying signs such as "Connecticut is the unconstitutional state" - many of them chanting at gun control supporters.
Malloy, a strong supporter of the bill, canceled a scheduled appearance at an autism group's event in a Capitol room near the Senate, after his state police security detail decided it would be unwise for him to pass through the crowd. "Dump Dan the dictator," read one homemade sign.
The director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Ron Pinciaro, was loudly booed when he passed through the halls.
As the Senate began discussion, Nicole Hockley, whose son died in the Newtown attack, said the legislature had "listened to what we asked them to do. I'm just very pleased."