More recently, gun owners turned out in force at the Capitol last March to oppose legislation banning large-capacity ammunition magazines, such as those later used by gunman Adam Lanza in the Newtown massacre. The measure failed.
Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said he has 35,000 members who represent a small portion of the 180,000 people with pistol permits in the state. He said 350 of them were prepared to testify last year against the bill banning large-capacity magazines.
He said school security should be a bigger priority than gun control, noting that the Newtown shooting was carried by a troubled young man who took his mother's weapons and was not a gun owner himself. But Crook added: "We're open to any rational suggestions that make common sense."
State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, a Democrat and a longtime proponent of tougher gun laws, said he is hoping the political climate has changed since the tragedy.
"I'm hopeful that some people will recognize that not every gun regulation bill is a serious threat to the Second Amendment and that people will be a little more reasonable about accepting some reasonable regulation," he said.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., a Republican, said he expects lawmakers will find more common ground on the issue than people might expect.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in neighboring New York is trying to put his state out front on gun control, coming out with a wide-ranging package of restrictions Wednesday in his State of the State Address.
He called for loopholes to be closed in a state ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 bullets. The Democrat also wants to require holders of handgun licenses to undergo follow-ups to make sure they are still qualified to possess a weapon, and he is calling for increased sentences for certain gun crimes.
Associated Press writers Susan Haigh and Stephen Singer contributed to this report.