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Lawmakers ‘Alarmed’ By Firearm Paperwork Backlogs

by | May 3, 2013 5:02pm
() Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Public Safety, State Budget

Hugh McQuaid Photo

State Police Col. Danny Stebbins

Law enforcement officials on Friday requested more funding to deal with a backlog of paperwork related to firearm purchases and transfer-of-ownership applications that have grown exponentially since the passage of new gun regulations.

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection leaders testified Friday before the Program Review and Investigations Committee, which is charged with examining state police staffing levels. During Friday’s hearing, lawmakers questioned department officials about complaints from constituents regarding waiting periods for gun permits and gun ownership transfers.

Col. Danny Stebbins told the panel that requests to the state police involving guns have increased dramatically this year.

In response to the December 14 murders of 20 first graders and six educators at a Newtown elementary school, the state debated and enacted stricter gun control regulations. The murders and ensuing debate triggered a massive increase in gun sales in Connecticut.

“The numbers are way up,” Stebbins said.

In December, he said police had a backlog of 1,000 transfer applications for gun ownership. That number has since soared to around 62,000, Stebbins said.

“We didn’t see this coming. There is no way we could have prepared for that. But that’s the nature of this business,” Stebbins said.

Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican who chairs the legislative committee, interrupted Stebbins, thinking the colonel had accidentally added a zero to his backlog calculations. He asked if Stebbins meant to say the backlog had increased to 6,200. “No,” Stebbins responded.

“So it went up 62 times?” Kissel asked. “And that’s the backlog? 62,000?”

Stebbins said confirmed that it was, and that other paperwork backlogs had increased as well for fingerprints for pistol permits and background checks.

“All of these things are behind because we don’t have people to keep up,” he said, adding that some of the tasks can be done by civilian personnel.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Reuben Bradford provided more numbers for the committee. He said there are currently 2,720 sets of fingerprints waiting to be processed for pistol permits and 9,326 applications are waiting to be processed.

Bradford attributed much of the backlog to an “uptick of purchases of weapons” that took place with the passage of the gun control legislation.

Rep. Christie Carpino, R-Cromwell, said many of her constituents have complained about long waits for gun permits. Stebbins said the agency has been completing the applications within the required eight-week period, barring any complications.

Carpino seemed skeptical and called the backlogs “alarming to everyone in the room.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo “That number is absurd, with all due respect. We have an obligation to law-abiding citizens across the state to cure that backlog,” she said.

Bradford defended the agency, saying they have not had an increase in staff to accompany the increase in gun-related paperwork.

“For the record, we are dealing with these backlogs with the same number of people. We’ve been given no additional help,” he said.

Stebbins said state police officials have been meeting with the Office of Policy and Management every other week regarding how to address the backlogs and the impact of the new gun law. He said the answer will require additional resources.

“The report will come out as to what the recommendations are and, of course, all this will come with a cost. So it’s not like we’re sitting and waiting,” he said.

Bradford said his agency presented OPM with an updated estimate of its fiscal requirements once the gun legislation passed. He did not offer the specifics of what the agency was seeking Friday.

Bradford’s chief of staff, Steven Spellman, said the department does not believe there is enough money allocated in the budget the Appropriations Committee has proposed for the next biennium to cover the additional responsibilities required under the gun law.

Spellman said they were still in the process of determining the cost. He said they likely will need more staff.

“Frankly, we got the bill the day it was passed and there was a period of analysis. You know, what is it going to take here? We’re in a sort of triage mode in terms of getting our arms around what that involves,” he said.

Michael Lawlor, Office of Policy and Management undersecretary for criminal justice policy, said the administration supports providing additional resources to the agency, but he noted that no additional funding was included in the bill for this fiscal year. He said OPM was trying to send extra resources to the agency now and also to plan for more funding in the next budget.

According to the fiscal note attached to the legislation, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection is expected to incur $200,000 to $300,000 in additional costs in 2013 to develop and implement systems required to comply with new eligibility certificates and background checks. There’s an additional $250,000 earmarked for new employees beginning in 2014 to manage the system. At least part of that will be offset by the $35 fee for the permits.

The cost to the Department of Correction to incarcerate more people under the new law is expected to far outweigh the amount of money the state police need for background checks.

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(27) Archived Comments

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 3, 2013  5:59pm

This is part of gun control. New laws that are given no thought on how to implement, and slow down the processes law abiding citizens need to follow to legally have guns. ...and you wonder why we dont trust the government.

By the way I have a new law that I would like passed in the state of CT. Tell me what you think. The law is that if you are an elected official and you have any event where you take questions from constituents, it is illegal to determine what questions you want to take. If there are too many questions you have to mix them up like shuffling cards. I am at the end of my rope with these politicians manipulating the free speech and right to ask questions of the citizens.

posted by: Lawrence | May 3, 2013  6:36pm

Stop by the 2nd floor of Cabela’s in East Hartford any day of the week to see the rows and rows of folding chairs for legal gun owners to wait HOURS for a simple Public Safety approval number for their purchase.

If this happened at DMV or DEEP, or there would be non-stop newspaper editorials and immediate action to remedy the situation.

posted by: dano860 | May 3, 2013  9:57pm

“We didn’t see this coming. There is no way we could have prepared for that. But that’s the nature of this business,” Stebbins said.
You have to be joking? Everyone was lied to then. What did they think was going to happen when they subject every law abiding citizen to these foolish laws. They promised us this wouldn’t happen, that the cost of these bogus laws wouldn’t be an issue, that the rights of the legal, law abiding firearms owners, sportsmen, shooting enthusiasts wouldn’t be infringed.
They said this would make the citizenry ‘safer’. How?
This is an end around to thwart the second amendment in true Liberal style.
I’ll bet the crime and criminals in the pits we call cities aren’t in the cue for fingerprint and background checks.
More bureaucracy and creation of unnecessary departments of B.S.
The State can’t afford the employees and the retirements today, do you think it’s going to get better in the future? Just look at the budget they are trying to push through now. Look at the loss of revenues (taxes) they project in the future, they are chasing the high wage earners out of the State and all that will be left is the little guy and the ones with their hands out.
The new firearms laws are not going to keep anyone safer but they will cause problems for the good citizens of the State.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | May 3, 2013  10:58pm

pass a stupid law, get crazy results.  are these legislators serious?!


posted by: Noteworthy | May 4, 2013  4:39am

“We didn’t see this coming,” says State Police Stebbins. Is he stupid or what? The state police must have been too busy having a pizza party to pay attention to what was going on. They wanted this, now they own it. As for the legislators - they’re shocked? Shocked I tell you that this is happening. It was months of waiting before the gun laws, now that it is more intensive and broader plus they don’t know what they’re doing - What a bunch of nabobs. Honestly folks, we are state run by ninnies and nitwits.

posted by: redlady | May 4, 2013  4:40am

election consequences

posted by: lisalake | May 4, 2013  4:52am

That last statement, The cost to the Department of Correction to incarcerate more people under the new law is expected to far outweigh the amount of money the state police need for background checks…sounds like intentional harassment and threatening….and should be investigated.

posted by: Fisherman | May 4, 2013  7:26am

Who didn’t see THIS coming; including the “alleged state budget surplus”, which was announced on the heels of the fiscal quarter following the passage of this bill. This extra money (from sales tax) was simply the result of gun owners,would-be gun owners and profiteers “empting the shelves” of guns and ammunition before the law’s enactment. “Feel-good” solutions rarely (if ever) solve root problems.

posted by: Len | May 4, 2013  10:12am

This is severely misleading.  First is that pistol permits are not free, and not $35 as claimed.  Applicants will pay $70.00 to the town, local authority fee $19.25 to the DPS, federal fingerprint/background fee $50.00 to the DPS, State of CT Fingerprint/background check fee get a temporary permit and then pay $70.00 to State DPS for the state pistol permit. A total of $209.25.  62,000 permits would generate just under 13 million dollars!  Also applicants are required to take a Pistol Safety Course. Going rates are $90 to $150.  62,000 safety courses will cost applicants 5.5 – 9 million dollars.  Also that Stebbins could say that they didn’t see this coming, that is quite telling.  There was 20+ combined hours of Public Hearings in January and March with the overwhelming percentage of testimony from gun owners, if anyone had been listening this would not be a surprise.  The 138 pages of legislation in SB1160 are a mess and will in the end waste taxpayer money and do little to protect public safety, and possibly harm it.

posted by: OldGuy61 | May 4, 2013  11:10am

Only 62,000 transfers backlogged?  What happens when all the long rifles and shotguns and ammo forms are filed?  Are we felons if the application has been filed but part of a backlog that will take years to clear out?  I hope everyone bought any ammo they need for the next few years.  I still think a gun ownder will be required to file an application for each gun they own.  How else will the State dig its way out of the fiscal mess they’re in?

posted by: dano860 | May 4, 2013  11:17am

I’ll bet they still don’t know they gamble at Foxwoods and Mohegan!
“There’s gambling in River City”, AMAZING!

posted by: A normal Joe | May 4, 2013  1:28pm

“Stebbins said the agency has been completing the applications within the required eight-week period, barring any complications.”  FALSE - I have been waiting longer than that and still do not have my permit processed.

posted by: ASTANVET | May 4, 2013  8:19pm

huh, i wonder who they are going to try to stick the bill to?? They write a law that we (law abiding gun owners) do not want, claim it will not lead to universal registration or confiscation, come up with a trumped up number for how much it costs - wow regulations cost something - no kidding - and then will promptly stick it to the very people who told them this was stupid.  Wow, maybe we should come up with a free speech tax, or a no-quarter tax, how about a non-self incrimination tax, or a speedy trial tax… taxing rights is wrong, this state is backwards!

posted by: runforyourlives | May 5, 2013  1:30pm

Unfortunately, Stebbins and Bradford have no credibility.  I am one of those waiting for a pistol permit.  They sent it back rejected because I wrote one check for the three fees to the “Treasurer, State of Connecticut” instead of writing three separate checks (to the same payee.)  They must not be able to add at Firearms.  CT sucks.  How will they explain the continued exodus of people leaving this State to live elsewhere.

posted by: GKJ | May 5, 2013  6:57pm

And THIS is what happens when you cram an ill conceived bill through using emergency certification!!  “Sweeping change” comes with an equally sweeping price tag.  Hope the pat on the back from the President and the ego inflation Malloy got as a result of it were worth it.  For a state swimming in debt, Malloy continues spending like a drunken sailor. Stand by, folks. Wanna bet there will be a new “transfer of firearms” fee to cover this hemorrhage?

posted by: ad_ebay | May 6, 2013  11:16am

“We’re in a sort of triage mode in terms of getting our arms around what that involves”
According to Wikipedia: “Triage (pron.: /ˈtriːɑːʒ/ (UK English) or /triːˈɑːʒ/ (US English)) is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition. This rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately.”
This is normally reserved for a DISASTER!
What a disaster this law and the REACTION of the Governor, Legislature, Press, and militant gun-banners to regulate others into compliance with their agenda.  Biden admitted so when he quipped, “Don’t let a good tragedy to to waste”.

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 6, 2013  1:02pm

good job CT News Junkie but why isnt this front page of the major newspapers in CT?

posted by: Christine Stuart | May 6, 2013  2:46pm

Christine Stuart

@JoeBigJoe Because I don’t run those newspapers. But I’m happy to sell them the story if they want to publish it. I can tell you it did appear in the Journal Register newspapers.

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 6, 2013  6:26pm

Christine you do alot of good work here so I hope they buy your stories where you have done the work with your limited staff that they didnt. Actually in some cases I think they are well aware of these stories but the editors know that it doesnt advance their agenda by telling them.

posted by: A normal Joe | May 7, 2013  4:12am

runforyourlives - I was told when writing the checks that they had to be separate for each fee, even though the payee was the same.  I can’t help but feel that since you were not given that information, that it was a deliberate attempt to delay your permit.

posted by: redlady | May 7, 2013  7:58am

Christine, thank you for reporting this. The public needs more like you. Keep up the in-depth reporting, please. We don’t just need this, we are hungry for it.

posted by: Nutmeg87 | May 7, 2013  9:05am

I agree with all that CTNews Junkie is great…  Much better at key points in an evolving story…

Runforyourlives: bureaucratic red tape in this day of real-time data processing is just a stall tactic to create a pipeline of work-in-progress that obfuscates the reality of the situation…  They are WAY WAY OVER THEIR HEADS in processing data…  NCIS is truely Science Fiction when it comes to reality in the State of CT and the US Govt…

I dont disagree that SOME towns may be sitting on the permits, but the majority is just waiting on the State of CT…

Guess Malloy & Biden watch too much TV and its become dogma…  Way to run our govt…  Thats why they both have been the stewarts of the highest binge spending Debt multiplying Administrations in history…

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 7, 2013  9:48am

Christine do you want a good story? Look into how many new gun permits have been applied for just in the town of Newtown. We’re led to believe that Newtowners are now much more anti gun, but I heard from someone in the State Police that the amount of new permits would shock people and tell a different story.

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 7, 2013  9:56am

I hit send too quickly. I also heard that most of the people in Newtown that have joined the gun control groups couldnt have a factual based conversation about guns, and its turned more into a social type event like Book Club. People respect people that can factually and accurately articulate different opinions but Newtown is apparently getting more divided because the anti gun people have applied social pressure espcially in the moms circle, yet they arent any smarter on the issue now than they were the day before this event happened. People running out in Newtown to get permits include alot of people that never thought they wanted a gun or a permit, but see the lunacy of the green ribbon people and that bothers them alot. One heck of a story here I think.

posted by: AR PRO | May 7, 2013  2:40pm

So we have a story about how much debt this useless,ridiculous and misleading new gun control law has/will generate, what really stands out for the moment is “The cost to the Department of Correction to incarcerate more people under the new law is expected to far outweigh the amount of money the state police need for background checks” So, are they expecting to arrest a boat load of people? I have a feeling there is an underlying agenda here, I have heard rumors that king wannabe malloy is preparing to introduce legislation that would ban all of the “wrongfully labeled” assault weapons sometime after the registration deadline…how convenient..wait until the sheep tell us where they are, then go and retrieve them…easy peasy… just my humble opinion..

posted by: redlady | May 8, 2013  5:03am

Demand to know where town/city leadership stand on the 2nd Amendment! some of these towns could be holding up permits if the leadership is anti-2nd Amendment. It was not important to us in the past, but since our State has meddled, the town being the decision point makes a huge difference in our constitutional rights. Know before November!

posted by: JH_1 | May 8, 2013  7:31am

I agree with Joe on his idea for a good story.  After Newtown, gun control has been a hot spot for activism.  Even those that never really participated in activist type events, started joining.

The issue I have is those that take up these causes without knowing all the facts.  Over the past few months, I’ve watched interviews and read articles from anti gun advocates.  I got frustrated every time because of the misleading statements they were making. 

The truth is that most of the people joining these causes don’t know enough about the topic to know what they’re hearing is misleading.