Connecticut's governor signed tough new gun ownership rules into law Thursday, four months after a deranged loner opened fire on an elementary school in the state, killing 20 children and six adults.
Governor Dannel Malloy put his signature to the bill, noting that the state's ability to reach a bipartisan accord on the issue at a time of rancorous debate in Congress was "something quite different in our nation."
The measure passed in the state assembly in the early hours of the morning, making Connecticut the third state after New York and Colorado to tighten gun laws in the wake of the December 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
More than 100 makes of rifles -- including the Bushmaster AR-15 used by killer Adam Lanza in the Newtown school -- were added to an existing, but now vastly expanded ban on military-style weapons.
In addition, ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds must now be registered, while new sales of the large clips are banned.
The law, which raises the minimum age for purchasers from 18 to 21, tightened the procedure for background checks. It also created the first state registry in the United States of people convicted of gun-related crimes.
President Barack Obama, who campaigned in Colorado on Wednesday for a national tightening of gun laws, was set to drive home his message with a visit to Connecticut on Monday.
Malloy called the passing of the law a "very emotional day" and chastised politicians in Congress, where attempts to enact a national ban on assault rifles have failed and even Obama's push for extra background checks is meeting serious resistance.
Malloy said polls showed that while politicians are divided over background checks, "the country is not divided itself."
"There is no excuse for representatives or senators who don't come to the assistance of those whom they're elected to represent," he said.
"We can never undo the senseless tragedy that took place on December 14," Malloy said, "but we can take action here in Connecticut."
The new Connecticut law will be in effect by August 1, he said, once law enforcement bodies have had time to organize.
The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were initially seen by many as a watershed that could swing public opinion behind national curbs on gun ownership.
However, support has wilted in Congress as the gun ownership lobby ramped up pressure. The issue is especially delicate for members of Congress heading into re-election races next year in states with strong gun cultures.
Seeking to regain momentum, Obama traveled to Colorado, a western state with a hunting and frontier tradition, where a mass shooting in a cinema there killed 12 people last year.
"I don't believe that weapons designed for theaters of war have any place in movie theaters," Obama said, days after expressing frustration that political momentum was fading.
But despite the steady drip of massacres by gunmen in public places, Newtown being just the latest, many Americans remain staunch backers of keeping powerful firearms for sport or self-defense.
Passions over gun ownership -- a right enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution -- were evident as an unruly crowd opposed to Connecticut's law burst into the state Capitol in Hartford on Wednesday, shouting: "Just say no!"
The focus of anti-gun campaigns has been on the more visible issue of military style rifles. However, nearly all murders in the United States are carried out with pistols.
In Connecticut, state Senator Donald Williams said: "No one is claiming that this bill will prevent all mass killings. But to say that we should do nothing? That is wrong."