Southington lawmakers want deadline extension for registering firearms [Record-Journal]

January 2, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Meriden Record-Journal

By Jesse Buchanan Record-Journal staff

SOUTHINGTON — State legislators representing Southington say the deadline for registering newly banned weapons should be extended into the new year, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he’s unable to change the law’s implementation.

Republican Sen. Joe Markley and Rep. Rob Sampson said the law passed after the Sandy Hook massacre has gun owners confused about what constitutes an illegal assault weapon.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there,” Sampson said. “The law was confusing to begin with.”

Both legislators opposed the gun legislation, signed into law by Malloy, a Democrat, in April. Owners of newly designated assault weapons — semi-automatic rifles with one or more features determined by the legislature — had until Jan. 1 to register their weapons to keep them legally in the state.

Sampson said the forms to register assault weapons as well as high-capacity magazines weren’t created until August. The forms were revised in following months, he said, adding to the confusion.

It’s a felony to possess an unregistered assault weapon after the deadline.

Malloy said changing the deadline would require action by the legislature that passed the law.

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

State Police Lt. Paul Vance said more than 25,000 assault weapons had been registered thus far along with more than 17,000 magazines.

He said his department doesn’t have the authority to change deadlines.

“We go by the letter of the law,” he said. “We can’t just arbitrarily do that.”

Lines of gun owners waiting to register wrapped around the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection building in Middletown in the final days of December, Sampson said. Many gun owners, like Sampson, waited to register their weapons, hoping for the success of legal challenges to the gun ban.

“A lot of people feel this isn’t a just law, an unconstitutional law,” Sampson said. “I think people had legitimate reasons for waiting.”

Gun owners who are trying to follow the law feel “persecuted” by requirements placed on them, he said.
Vance said registration had to be completed by the close of business hours on Tuesday.

“What’s important is that there is no line here now,” Vance said at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. “People don’t seem to be inconvenienced.”