(Source: Jessica Hill / AP)
CONNECTICUT — Residents are facing a lose-lose situation: announce to the government what specific property they own, or face potentially violent repercussions from the state. Many gun owners are refusing to register their firearms in what appears to be a massive act of civil disobedience, drawing threats from the state.
In 2013, Connecticut lawmakers passed Public Law 13-3, a draconian piece of bipartisan legislation that undermines citizen privacy, constricts legal ownership, and bans a number of arbitrary items outright. As of January 1st, 2014, anyone who had failed to register their firearms and firearm magazines with the government could be charged with a Class D Felony.
Those who do not sacrifice their privacy may become criminals for life and face prison time.
The law has been characterized as one of the most restrictive in the nation. It bans over 100 firearm models outright, bans magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, bans certain bullets, and expands the definition of “assault weapon.“ It also prohibits private sales of guns without reporting to the government and creates a database of people denied their rights without due process (medical reasons).
While exempting government agents from the restrictions, it increases the penalties for anyone who breaks these onerous requirements. It also places these individuals into a “deadly weapon offender registry” for life as they suffer as lifelong felons. The state also dedicated $1 million for statewide firearms trafficking task force.
These restrictions on freedom are purportedly designed to prevent school shootings.
By December 2013, citizens were lining up to register their property avoid becoming felons.
“One thing is clear,” said Mike Lawlor, an undersecretary in the state Office of Policy and Management. “If you haven’t registered it, on the following day, it is completely illegal contraband.” That date passed on January 1st, 2014.
Many people complied with the law only out of fear of the government, not because they believed anyone would be safer.
“The law I don’t think is going to stop any crimes,” Connecticut resident Rob Townsend said to WFSB in front of a line of people attempting to obey the law. “How many criminals do you think are in line right now to register their weapons?”
While the lines of people registering their property seemed impressive, they may have represented a relatively low number of compliant citizens. This leaves some wondering if a large number of people are in danger of facing harsh prison sentences if caught.
Police had received 47,916 applications for “assault weapons certificates” and 21,000 incomplete applications as of Dec. 31, Lt. Paul Vance told The Courant. But this represents a fraction of what independent sources estimate.
“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,” the Courant reported.
Governor Malloy dismissed the estimates of 350,000 unregistered firearms as “made up” and believes his registration program is working “extremely well.”
“Like anything else, people who violate the law face consequences. … that’s their decision. The consequences are pretty clear,” said Lawlor, a Connecticut bureaucrat. Lawlor said that criminalizing thousands of unregistered gun owners is not a sign of failure of the law. “The goal is to have fewer of these types of weapons in circulation,” he said, according to the Courant.
And despite the pleas of gun owners to extend the deadline, the State Police swiftly made it clear that the no exceptions would be made to the deadline. Connecticut residents reported receiving this letter after turning in a late application:
A letter received by a Connecticut resident for being one day late with his registration application. (Source: The Capitalism Institute)
The New American confirmed the letter’s authenticity by contacting the source.
(Feb. 28, 2014 @ 12:10 p.m. EST): In response to concerns that the letter from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection quoted above might be a hoax, The New American called the department to confirm the accuracy of the letter. Lt. Vance of the Connecticut State Police confirmed that the letter is accurate in every respect and was sent out with the date of January 2, 2014.
When asked if door-to-door confiscation was a possibility, Connecticut State Police Lieutenant J. Paul Vance said that he had not been told to “cross that bridge” yet. He insisted that interpreting the constitution was not his responsibility and that the police would enforce “any lawful law.”
Those “lucky” enough to have met the registration deadline should be aware that their information now resides in the hands of police. “This would be a factor in deciding how to respond to different situations,” says Mr. Lawlor.
In other words, when the police are called to the addresses of those honest enough to register, officers may deploy a “different” level of government force. Perhaps a SWAT team.
They can also live with the comfort of knowing that if the political winds shift, their registered names will be the first the first under scrutiny if a gun confiscation order is given. History is rife with examples of gun confiscation; recently this took place in New Orleans.
Gun confiscation is an ongoing reality in many states. In New York City, police have issued hundreds of letters ordering the surrender of shotguns and rifles that had been registered but were no longer compliant with the regulations du jour. California has its own team of full-time gun confiscation agents that go address to address seizing guns from those people the state considers “prohibited persons.”
The injustice of gun control can be abundantly seen by any observant individual. In Washington D.C., a businessman named Mark Witaschek recently suffered a violent SWAT team raid on his family because the government claimed he had “unregistered ammunition.” In New Jersey, a man named Brian Aitken had his world destroyed and parental rights destroyed when he was convicted of keeping his legally owned property in his vehicle for too long. In yet another story, a Massachusetts college student faces up to 10 years in prison for simply owning a standard rifle magazine.
These naive attempts to promote safety and security have resulted in turning large numbers of Americans into second-class citizens, unable to legally exercise their rights enumerated in the constitution. One after another, non-violent gun owners are being sent to prison, given life-long felonies, placed under burdensome restrictions, and suffer other personal hardships.
Ironically, the same government that is trusted to track, disarm, restrict, and monitor all these people is left free to violate citizens’ rights and harm people practically without recourse. What gun control zealots fail to realize is that no one is safer living under a police state.
Connecticut State Police toting rifles that other people would be arrested for owning. (Source: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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