Malloy signed the bill at a ceremony Thursday alongside family members of some of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, several hours after it won approval in the General Assembly.
The bill passed 26-10 in the Senate and 105-44 in the House of Representatives. Both were bipartisan votes.
"In some senses I hope this is an example to the rest of the nation," Malloy said. "Certainly to our leaders in Washington who seem so deeply divided about an issue such as universal background checks, where the country is not divided itself."
Connecticut Lawmakers Pass Gun Control Bill
"We have come together in a way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability to do," said Malloy.
Some measures in the bill take effect immediately, including expansion of the state's assault weapons ban, background checks for all firearms sales and a ban on the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
The measure adds more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.
The bill would require gun owners who already have those magazines to register with the state police. Lawmakers also agreed to create a system that would require gun owners to submit to fingerprinting, complete a firearms training course and a nationwide background check.
"We can never undo the senseless tragedy that took place on Dec. 14 or those tragedies that play themselves out on a daily basis in our cities," Malloy said. "But we can take action here in Connecticut and we can make Connecticut towns and cities safer and this bill does that."
"We have said from the outset that we want Newtown to be known not for our tragedy but for transformation and this law marks the beginning of that turning point," Hockley said.
Connecticut now joins states including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts in having the country's strongest gun control laws.
"Today, Connecticut joins New York and a growing collection of states that are proving we can pass tough, common sense gun control laws that protect our citizens and make us safer," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "The horror of the Newtown tragedy instilled a new urgency across our entire nation that we can no longer accept the unforgivable violence caused by allowing deadly weapons to fall into the hands of the most dangerous elements of our society."
But some Conn. lawmakers said they felt the legislation did not do enough to address mental health issues.
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Newtown, acknowledged the legislation "is not perfect'' and he hoped would be "a beginning in addressing critical mental health needs.''
Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, said he felt the bill "doesn't speak to the issue of gun violence that has permeated our cities,'' adding how families in his district who've lost children to gun violence have not received the same level of attention from state politicians as the Newtown families.
Many legislators spoke of balancing the rights of gun owners with addressing the horror of the Sandy Hook shooting. They've received thousands of emails and phone calls urging them to vote for or against the bill.
"The Sandy Hook killer committed countless crimes on Dec. 14," said Rep. Rob Samson (R-Wolcott). "Do we really think adding any more laws to our books would have stopped him?"
"Nothing would make me happier than if this bill solved all of these issues, but in my heart of hearts, I don't believe that is the case," said state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield.)
"You are punishing the wrong people," added state Sen. Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford.) "The premise is wrong."
But others disagreed.
"There is nothing in this bill that should be seen as improperly infringing on the rights of legitimate gun owners," Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said.
Veteran Sen. Joan Hartley, a Democrat, said she's never seen a more polarizing issue at the state Capitol.
Gun rights advocates who greatly outnumbered gun control supporters in demonstrations held earlier in the day at the Capitol railed against the proposals as misguided and unconstitutional, occasionally chanting "No! No! No!'' and "Read the bill!''
"I'm here because I'm concerned about encroachment on our Second Amendment rights," said Michael Hagen, who opposed the bill.
"We want them to write laws that are sensible,'' said Ron Pariseau, of Pomfret, who was angry he'll be made a felon if he doesn't register his weapons that will no longer be sold in Connecticut. "What they're proposing will not stop anything.''
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, who helped craft the bill, said he realizes the gun owners are unhappy with the bill, but he stressed that no one will lose their legally owned guns or magazines under the legislation.
"We did our job. We did it together,'' he said. "We did the best we could and I think we did a good thing.''
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