Conn. Dems push for turning historic Colt gun factory into national park

Connecticut's entire congressional delegation has proposed legislation that would designate the site of an historic firearms manufacturer as a national park.

The move comes even as the same Democratic members are fighting for tougher gun control laws in the wake of last December’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

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Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) proposed the Coltsville National Historical Park Act, which would have the Secretary of the Interior administer the site of Samuel Colt's Firearms Manufacturing Company. The site in Hartford, Conn., which Colt founded in 1855, is already a national historic landmark.

In a statement released last week, Larson said the Coltsville complex was "central to the birth of precision manufacturing in America." He also said creating a national park of the site through his bill, H.R. 1259, would help promote tourism in Hartford.

"I applaud Senator Blumenthal and Senator Murphy for their support along with many other state and local leaders, and look forward to working towards the National Park status this Congress," Larson said.

Blumenthal said the park would enshrine "Colt's powerful role in advancing the industrial revolution in Connecticut and nationwide."

Connecticut's congressional delegation has introduced similar legislation in the last two sessions of Congress, although it has failed to advance in House or Senate.

But this time, the bill was introduced just months after the death of 26 people, including 20 children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. That shooting sparked a renewed national debate about gun violence, with Connecticut Democrats calling for new gun-control laws.

Immediately after the shooting, Larson called for universal background checks for all gun purchases, and a ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity clips.

Earlier this month, when Senate Democrats decided not to go forward with an assault-weapons ban, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he still supports such legislation and said the effort will be a marathon, "not a sprint."

And just this week, Sen. Blumenthal criticized the National Rifle Association for making robocalls on gun issues to residents of Newtown.

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Murphy, and the House bill is co-sponsored by Connecticut Democrats Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty.