Starting April 1st, gun buyers will be required to apply for a certificate from the state before purchasing any long gun from either a licensed or private seller. State Police warn it could add weeks if not months to what was a two week process.
State Police Lt. Eric Cooke is with Special Licensing and Permits. He says if you have a handgun permit, you’ll already be covered under this new mandate. Adding this element of the law fills a gap when it comes to the private purchase or transfer of a shotgun or rifle. The greatest impact will most likely be felt by hunters.
“This part of the bill closes that gap where every transaction of a long gun requires an authorization through our office,” says Cooke. “So you’ll have to call our office and get a NICS number in order to exchange a weapon between two parties.”
Following a record year for gun sales in the state, gun shops are putting a renewed focus on education and training.
At the Delta Arsenel gun range in Wallingford, trainer Gary Dukeet says it’s been standing room only on weekends with private lessons skyrocketing. A good portion of those coming in are women.
“Here in Connecticut, it’s from 70 yrs old to 21 yrs old, everyone wants training,” says Dukeet, who moved here two months ago from Texas to handle the quantity of new gun owners from the last year.
Many trainers and gun shop staff are now becoming experts in more than just gun safety as the next important date in the state’s gun law arrives. But it’s the state’s mandated gun registration and magazine declaration from January that continues to be the source of the greatest controversy and misinformation.
Scott Wilson, President of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, says three groups of gun owners have emerged since the January 1st cutoff to declare any guns on the new list of banned assault style weapons.
He says one group complied with the law and registered. Another defied it on principal, believing its unconstitutional. It’s the third group, however, that concerns him most: gun owners who may not have understood the law and now could be charged as felons. “We’re concerned some of those people may become test cases in the future,” says Wilson, whose group now has close to 13,000 members.
There are also questions about how the state plans on enforcing this law. Talk on internet forums and social media say some police are refusing to comply with it or that police will go house to house confiscating unregistered weapons.
The new head of the state police, Dora Schriro, says she knows her troopers will live up to their oath to serve and protect. She wants to make very clear that the talk of confiscation is nonsense.
“There’s no plan in place nor has there been any execution of a plan where we would, for example, go door-to-door and be actively involved in the confiscation of weapons,” says Schriro, who took over as Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection at the end of January.
Some gun rights advocates have asked legislators for amnesty or an extension to the gun registration and magazine declaration. Arguing the state did not do enough to inform gun owners and that hundreds of people meant to comply but were shut out when post offices closed early on December 31st.
Schriro says an extension was given to those cases. “Any forms signed, dated on or before January 1 but postmarked up to January 4, in those instances, they were accepted as well.”
In the end, over 50-thousand guns were registered and almost 40-thousand magazine declaration forms were submitted in the January 1st deadline. State Police say it’s impossible to know what percentage of people complied with the law.
The DESPP website is constantly refreshing and adding to the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of its website. The long gun certificate forms can also be found by clicking here.