Gun registration deadline passes in state [Wilton Villager]

January 3, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Wilton Villager

WILTON — The Jan. 1 deadline for Connecticut citizens to apply for assault weapon certificates and register large-capacity magazines has passed.

State police are warning residents they must discard their unregistered weapons or face fines or imprisonment.

Residents had until midnight Tuesday to apply for certificates and declare their magazines with the state. Those who did not register their weapons must either dismantle them or sell them to a federally licensed firearm dealer, according to Connecticut State Police spokesperson Lt. Paul Vance.

“The safest thing for anyone to do is to sell them to a federally licensed firearm dealer,” said Vance in a phone interview Thursday.

People who hold on to their unregistered firearms may face felony charges, Vance said.

Residents were required to submit their applications to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection in Middletown.

Republican state legislators have called for a 60-90 day grace period for residents to certify their guns.
But Vance said he has heard no indication that additional time will be given.

“We did everything we could do to make sure they got their paperwork in on a timely manner,” he said.
Vance said the department received many compliments from people saying its employees assisted with moving applicant lines along.

Some of the lines were long, he said, so DESPP staff accepted people’s paperwork while they were in line so they did not have to wait longer.

But state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-26, says she is afraid some residents did not know of the deadline and may face criminal charges.

“It’s really, really disturbing, I have to say,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.

She said most gun owners are law-abiding citizens, and that they could be arrested because they were not informed of new state statutes.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law an omnibus of gun legislation in April.

The state added more than 100 guns to its assault weapons ban, as well as new high capacity magazines similar to the ammunition used in the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The incident resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six teachers.

According to Boucher, she asked the DESPP in August to send notices to gun owners notifying them of the registration deadlines.

She also asked the office to issue receipts letting people know it received their applications.
The agency, though, claimed it did not have the resources, she said.

“We are currently receiving thousands of applications daily. It is not feasible to hand search for an individual application to ensure receipt. Once processed, a form letter will be sent for a large capacity magazine declaration and/or a certificate will be sent for an assault weapon,” the office wrote in a response to Boucher.

Boucher said the explanation was understandable. But she said she worried if an application was incomplete, the deadline would pass and the applicant would have unjustly violated the law.

“The department is going to make every effort to accommodate people who try to register firearms in advance of the deadline. The requirement has been in place for six months, and the deadline is set by statute,” said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, to the Associated Press.

About 25,000 assault weapons were registered as of Wednesday, Malloy said Monday. He estimated 17,000 people registered high-capacity magazines.

Vance said he did not have a final number of how many applications were submitted.
Some residents registered as many as 100 magazines, he said.

Boucher said people want to know that the state received their applications.

“They just didn’t get any word back on there were receipts,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.