HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — The Connecticut governor who told parents that their children had been killed in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history signed into law tough gun control measures, while President Barack Obama gave his most candid assessment yet of the challenges facing such action at the national level.
Obama said Thursday that passing gun safety legislation would be tougher than an immigration overhaul, which is also under discussion as a top issue in his second term.
"I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved," he told an intimate group of donors.
Prospects for tough national gun control laws are slim amid political pressure by gun lobby groups and gun owners who point to the constitutional right to bear firearms. Obama has called the Connecticut shooting in December, which also killed six adults and the 20-year-old gunman's mother, the worst day of his presidency, and it reignited a national debate on gun control.
But some states have stepped in to set up or tighten their own gun measures. Maryland on Thursday was the latest to move ahead, with the state Senate passing gun controls that will go to the governor, who proposed the legislation, for approval.
Colorado and New York — and Connecticut, a state with a deep history of gun making — also have passed new gun control requirements in the wake of the December shooting.
"This is a profoundly emotional day for everyone in this room," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. "We have come together in a way that few places in the nation have demonstrated the ability to do."
Obama has planned a trip to Connecticut on Monday to increase pressure on lawmakers in Washington to act.
Connecticut joins states including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts in having the country's strongest gun control laws, said Brian Malte, director of mobilization for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.
The legislation adds more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban and creates what officials have called the nation's first dangerous weapon offender registry, as well as eligibility rules for buying ammunition.
In Maryland, the state Senate voted for final passage of its gun control measure, becoming the first state in nearly 20 years to require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police. Only five other states have a similar requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
Gun control advocates say the fingerprinting requirement will help keep guns away from criminals because it will make people reluctant to buy guns for people who are not allowed to have them. Opponents say the bill erodes the Second Amendment right to bear firearms and ultimately penalizes law-abiding citizens.
The measure bans 45 types of assault weapons, although people who own them now will be able to keep them.
The measure also limits gun magazines to 10 bullets and addresses firearms access for the mentally ill. People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility won't be allowed to have a gun.
Associated Press writers Stephen Kalin and Michael Melia in Hartford and John Christoffersen in New Haven contributed to this report.