The Corner

Connecticut Moves to Restrict the Second Amendment to Rich People

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy is moving to increase the cost of a firearms permit. The New Haven Register reports:

Gun owners will see huge increases in permit fees that would raise millions of dollars to help the state combat its two-year, $3.6 billion deficit.

As part of his budget, Malloy is proposing to increase the state portion of the pistol permit fee from $70 to $300. He also is proposing the cost of the initial 5-year pistol permit fee from $140 to $370.

The increase in fees for gun owners will bring in another $9 million to the state annually, according to the governor’s budget estimates.

Additionally, Malloy is proposing to increase background check fees from its current $50 to $75.

If he is successful, that will set the cost of a first-time gun permit at $445, and the cost of renewal at $300.

Although I strongly disagree with it, I understand the intellectual case in favor of pistol permits per se — especially in states such as Connecticut, where a permit acts as a one-time permission slip to do everything associated with guns (buy, own, carry, etc.). In the view of the gun-control movement, the permitting system serves to weed out those who are disqualified from ownership, as well as to ensure that the police know who is carrying and who is not. Because the system is open to abuse, leads to situations such as Carol Bowne’s, and seems to have no positive effect in comparison with similar states that don’t issue permits (see Vermont and Maine), I strongly oppose it. But I can at least acknowledge the argument. Guns are dangerous weapons. It’s not inherently unreasonable to want some regulation, nor, if a permitting system is to exist, to ask users to cover their costs.

I cannot, however, understand the argument in favor of high fees for pistol permits. If the case for permits is to distinguish between the law-abiding and the criminal, the case for high fees is to distinguish between the rich and the poor. In and of itself, that is disgusting. But applied to a constitutionally enumerated right that has been routinely recognized as such by the Supreme Court? That’s pitchfork time. And to come from the Democratic party, which views itself as being on the side of the poor, and which is institutionally opposed to voter identification laws on the grounds that one should not have to pay or be inconvenienced in order to vote? That’s just too much. (Why isn’t this a “poll tax” or “Jim Crow“? And you can’t answer, “because I choose not to accept that the Second Amendment exists.”) I understand that Governor Malloy doesn’t like guns. But I also don’t care. The law is the law. He doesn’t get to edit the Bill of Rights.

The best case that can be made is that Malloy is trying to balance the budget on the backs of those whose behavior he dislikes. In a vacuum, this would be unpleasant. But when the behavior in question is legally protected, it is an outrage. Make no mistake: This isn’t about covering user costs; it’s not about safety; and it’s not about Newtown. It’s about a state government being willing to restrict a core individual right because it happens to dislike its scope. I can only hope that the state Senate — now split evenly between Democrats and Republicans — puts the kibosh on the idea post haste.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More