The Corner

En Masse, Connecticut’s Gun Owners Defy New Registration Law

Looks like there’s a little life in the old Constitution State yet. Per the Hartford Courant:

Everyone knew there would be some gun owners flouting the law that legislators hurriedly passed last April, requiring residents to register all military-style rifles with state police by Dec. 31.

But few thought the figures would be this bad.

By the end of 2013, state police had received 47,916 applications for assault weapons certificates, Lt. Paul Vance said. An additional 2,100 that were incomplete could still come in.

Apparently, that’s not very many:

That 50,000 figure could be as little as 15 percent of the rifles classified as assault weapons owned by Connecticut residents, according to estimates by people in the industry, including the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation. No one has anything close to definitive figures, but the most conservative estimates place the number of unregistered assault weapons well above 50,000, and perhaps as high as 350,000.

And that means as of Jan. 1, Connecticut has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals — perhaps 100,000 people, almost certainly at least 20,000 — who have broken no other laws. By owning unregistered guns defined as assault weapons, all of them are committing Class D felonies.

Even given how absurdly broadly the law defines the term, I doubt that there are 350,000 “assault weapons” in Connecticut. That works out at about one for every ten people. Still, even if you halve the number, you’re looking at just over a quarter of owners having registered their guns. 

For some reason, legislators are perplexed by the idea of Americans refusing to comply with unjust laws:

“I honestly thought from my own standpoint that the vast majority would register,” said Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, the ranking GOP senator on the legislature’s public safety committee. “If you pass laws that people have no respect for and they don’t follow them, then you have a real problem.”

Indeed you do. You also have a real problem when politicians don’t follow up sentences like that one with, “. . . and, in trying to establish why people don’t respect the law, I am starting to realize how utterly ridiculous the changes we brought in were. I am going to lobby for repeal and then resign from office.” Indeed, as the Courant established,

lawmakers should not ignore the stark fact that there are now enough people in serious violation of Connecticut gun laws to fill a small town at least, a very big town more likely and perhaps as many as live in the state’s largest cities.

All of this disruption for a rule that requires the registration of a type of rifle that is used so infrequently in crimes that the FBI doesn’t even bother to keep track of the numbers. (There were 323 murders committed in 2011 with all types of rifle, let alone so-called “assault rifles.”) 

Here’s a crazy idea. Why not just repeal the law?

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