Lawmakers, Malloy Administration Discuss Amnesty For Gun Owners
Lawmakers and members of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration met Tuesday to discuss what to do with several hundred gun registration forms that did not quite meet the deadline to comply with a new law.
The issue involves a small group of gun owners who mailed paperwork registering or declaring their possession of rifles and ammunition magazines banned by the state under a law passed last year in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.
Some post offices closed early on Dec. 31 and about 226 assault weapon applications and 506 high-capacity magazine declarations received by the state were postmarked shortly after the deadline.
The Malloy administration has been using the postmark as the threshold for processing the paperwork. Last month, the governor said state police retained the late paperwork, but he insisted that the legislature would need to pass a bill in order to process the forms.
However, some lawmakers maintain the administration has the discretion to accept and process the forms without more legislation.
After the Tuesday meeting, Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the governor, said the administration was still reviewing its options.
Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said the question impacts a small group of people who tried, but did not quite make the deadline.
“We’re trying to figure a way to accommodate the small number of people. Do we do it legislatively? Can we do it administratively?” he said. “Whatever our focus is, it has to be narrow in scope because it might open it up to other people’s concerns.”
Some oppose the idea of allowing those forms to be processed. Soon after Malloy left the door open to offering amnesty to the gun owners who attempted to comply with the law, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, a lead proponent of last year’s legislation, asked its members to contact the governor’s office and oppose a grace period.
However, if officials were intent on offering amnesty, the group wanted to see the proposal in the form of a bill, which they saw as an opportunity to eliminate an exemption in the state’s gun control statutes pertaining to weapons manufactured before 1993.
In a letter, the group asked supporters to “email your State Senator and State Representative. Tell them that if there is to be a compromise on late registration of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, they must also repeal” the exemption.
Others feel legislation would be unnecessary to address the issue. Rep. Craig Miner, co-chairman of the legislature’s Sportsmen’s Caucus, compared the issue to people missing the deadline to file their taxes.
“Most people wait till the last minute to pay their taxes, get their cars registered or any number of things,” he said. “. . . I have argued that for the small population of individuals who appeared to me to have applied for the very certificates that we asked them to apply for . . . That that be handled, as more often than not is done, through an internal process.”
Miner said he was also concerned with another — likely far larger — population of individuals who chose not to comply with the law. A Monday article in the Hartford Courant suggested that gun owners chose not register as many as 350,000 rifles.
“For people who fall outside that window, they had an opportunity. I personally would like to suggest we offer them another opportunity,” Miner said. “. . . But I think that would definitely have to be the subject of some legislation.”