The next deadline Connecticut gun owners must meet in order to comply with the state’s new gun law is fast approaching.
Anyone in possession of a gun now on the state’s banned list, purchased prior to the Governor signing the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act on April 4th, needs to register the weapon with state police by January 1st.
Included in the dozens of newly banned guns are AR-15’s, the country’s most popular firearm,
the same weapon used by the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Michael Lawlor, the Governor’s Criminal Policy Liason, says this registration deadline is for any current or future residents of the state. He adds that while there are exceptions in the penalties for first-time offenders, anyone caught with an assault weapon after January 1st could be charged with a felony and face a mandatory minimum of 1 year in prison. So, if you miss the deadline -- your options are limited.
“You can either surrender the weapon to us, destroy the weapon or sell it to a federal firearms licensee,” says Lawlor.
No matter how people choose to register, the state is making one thing abundantly clear – do not miss this deadline. “After that date anything that hasn’t been declared or registered is banned and if you get caught you’re going to get arrested,” Lawlor warns.
Also by January 1st, current or future residents must declare to the state any large capacity magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds of bullets.
Declaration certificates for the magazines and notarized gun registration forms can be sent by certified mail or dropped off at the Department of Public Safety Headquarters in Middletown.
“Anything not postmarked by December 31st or received by us by December 31st will be returned unprocessed,” says Lt. Eric Cooke, the Commanding Officer for Special Licensing and Firearms with the Connecticut State Police. “First violation of non-declaration of large capacity magazine is an infraction.-which is a ticket. After that it becomes a felony.”
The controversial bill became law less than four months after the Sandy Hook shootings that killed 20 children and six educators.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is a party to a lawsuit currently in the courts attempting to reverse the legislation. Despite his disapproval of the law, Scott Wilson, the president of the ten-thousand plus member CCDL, is urging gun owners to abide by it.
“There are going to be a lot of people on January 1st that will wake up and unknowingly be felons by the definition of the law,” says Wilson. “We want to make sure that people get this message loud and clear because we’re law abiding gun owners and we don’t want to give the other side any ammunition to use against us.”
Forms and instructions are found on the department of public safety website, but Wilson says there is considerable confusion and frustration for gun owners trying to register. “While it is pretty much seemingly straightforward, over all people out there want to know their doing it the right way because if their firearms are not registered by the 1st, if they do something wrong filling out the application, their very much in fear of losing those firearms.”
Any banned guns or large capacity magazines purchased after the bill was signed in April are already considered illegal.