Old Capitol hand, former top General Assembly chairman, says 2013 is nothing like 1993

Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven, former long-time Judiciary Committee chairman who resigned his seat in 2010 to become Gov. Malloy’s deputy secretary for criminal justice in the Office of Policy and Management, was asked to compare the angry, chanting crowd in the Capitol today to the scene during the 1993 debate on the assault weapons ban. He said that this year, gun owners got plenty of notice of the impending votes, while back in 1993, then-Speaker of the House Tom Ritter literally sprang it on the House.  It was a Saturday session and under procedural rules, Lawlor explained that those who wanted to debate the bill then and there would have to vote against tabling it. The debate went until the wee hours of the next morning. “California and New Jersey had already done the assault weapon ban and it had been percolating here for a couple of years and Weicker was the governor. It was like a back-and-forth all session. Do we have a list or do we get a definition? There was no pre-set deal like there is here. They started around 7 at night and finished at 4 in the morning. The first vote went up on the board and it was a tie. Because it’s a tie vote the motion to table doesn’t succeed. There were 20-some amendments. Some passed and some didn’t. The Senate took it up next and it passed and then Weicker did the bill signing in the middle of the night and he signed the bill. “