Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Bill of Rights

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stricter Gun Laws Shake Up Firearm Industry

By New Haven Register (CT) - 4/16/2013

Each time tougher gun laws are enacted, the firearms industry responds by retooling to get around a weapons' ban and this time is no different.

They did it to serve the huge California market by offering a "featureless" centerfire semiautomatic weapon built on the AR-15 platform, and the "bullet button" to get around restrictions on military style components and detachable magazines.

Mark Malkowski, president of Stag Arms in New Britian, where all his AR-15 rifles are on the expanded assault weapons ban just adopted by the state as part of its attempt to lower gun violence, said he is looking at a prototype that can possibly be sold in Connecticut and New York in light of their new restrictions.
The company, which has a two-year backlog of orders for the banned weapons, can continue to fill those contracts signed before the law went into effect on April 4, according to state officials, and there are no restrictions on producing them for sale outside Connecticut.

"We're looking at ways to comply with the law and retain the current jobs we have," Malkowski said of the modified version of the California centerfire rifle for sale in that state.

He said he has been in touch with state police on what is allowable, but hasn't heard back yet. "We still don't have the rules," he said, which has left gun shops uncertain what to sell.

Malkowski said the restrictions imposed by New York and Connecticut are stricter than those in effect in California.

Connecticut added more than 100 assault weapons to its list of banned firearms and restricts the number of rounds in a magazine to 10. Citizens who own larger capacity magazines can keep them in their homes and use them at the shooting range, but they have to register how many they own by Jan. 1, as well their now banned assault weapons.

Connecticut's population is about 1 percent of the 315 million in the United States and is a smaller gun market than other locales.

But Malkowski -- who sells 6,000 firearms a month -- brought in $1 million in sales in the first three months of this year here as gun owners cleared shelves in anticipation of the new rules. Assault weapon sales have grown exponentially since Barack Obama became president and particularly since the massacre of 20 children and six educators on Dec. 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School -- the impetus behind the changes here and the discussion now taking place in Washington.

Malkowski has called the law "an overreach" that bans certain weapons as more dangerous because of the addition of "certain cosmetic features."

Both he and Jonathan Scalise, president of Ammunition Storage Components, are seriously weighing offers from other states, particularly Texas, trying to get them to move to friendlier gun territory. He has 150 workers to Malkowski's 200, while the industry in Connecticut supports some 2,900 jobs and another 2,000 in subcontractors and suppliers.

Luring manufacturers to less costly states is not unusual, but it has been intensified by emotions on both sides of the gun debate with advocates viewing the new laws as an attack on their Second Amendment rights and some customers threatening to punish gunmakers who stay here.

State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said Connecticut's gun ban "will be more difficult to get around" as it took into consideration the "monster grip" and "hybrid grip" substituted in other markets for the pistol grip now banned in this state.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, who along with Looney and four other bipartisan leaders negotiated the terms of the gun bill, said the pistol grip in particular is "not a purely cosmetic feature."

"The reason the (AR-15) is popular is not its looks, but the way it works," McKinney said. He said adding a pistol grip reduces recoil and makes the AR-15 more accurate. "You can get off more shots, more quickly," he said of a reason to ban them.

McKinney, who represents Newtown where the Sandy Hook Elementary School is located, said reducing magazines to 10 rounds is the most important part of the bill. He said Adam Lanza killed all 15 students in the initial first-grade classroom he entered. In the next first-grade room, he killed five students and 11 escaped when Lanza changed magaines and/or the Bushmaster AR-15 he was using jammed.

Michael Lawlor, Malloy's liaison on criminal matters, said Connecticut's ban is very comprehensive and while the courts in California approved the "bullet button" as a way to get round the ban on detachable magazines, he said he doesn't expect that to happen here.
The magazine is legal in California if you have to use a tool to detach it. A bullet tip can be used as a tool, according to the court ruling, but the number of bullets is still limited to 10 per magazine.

Lawlor said it was "disingenuous" to look for ways to get around the ban. "In the past manufacturers have chosen to find loopholes and exploit them which inevitably leads to more expansive gun control. You would think the manufacturers would come up with a gun that does not have the same allure to mass killers," he said.

Joe Bartozzi, senior vice president and general counsel for O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a gun manufacturer in North Haven with almost 300 workers, is the latest critic to weigh in on remarks made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on April 7 on CNN, when he said firearms' manufacturers only concern is selling more weapons.

"What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible -- even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background," Malloy said. "They don't care. They want to sell guns," he said on the news program.

Bartozzi, who was among those testifying at the Capitol on gun legislation and whose plant was visited by Malloy staff, was livid.

"At a time when we are being encouraged to move our manufacturing facility to any one of several states, your words make us feel most unwelcome," Bartozzi wrote. "In a state where our company has been providing good, well-paying jobs for over nine decades, your words make us feel decidedly unappreciated."

Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the marketing arm of the firearms industry, spoke on the "The Real Storyl" on Fox Ct Sunday, and said he thinks Malloy should apologize to the gun manufacturers.

He also blamed Nancy Lanza, Adam Lanza's mother, for the tragedy.

"We think the focus that would have prevented the tragedy at Sandy Hook is if ... Nancy Lanza lived up to her responsibilities as a gun owner and made sure that those firearms that she had in her home that she lawfully purchased after a background check ... were made inaccessible to her son, who she knew had serious mental health issues," Keane said.

"If those guns were locked in the safe and he didn't have the combination, this incident doesn't happen," he said. At one point he suggested she shouldn't have firearms in the home at all.

Lanza killed his mother with one of her guns and then took the Bushmaster and two handguns into the school, leaving a rifle in his car. They all belonged to Nancy Lanza. There was also evidence that she had made out a check to her son to buy a gun.

In a related issue, Peter Sachs, a Branford attorney, appearing on "Face the State" on Channel 3 on Sunday, said, in his opinion, state House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and state Senate Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, failed to provide the "facts" as to why the comprehensive gun violence reduction bill needed "emergency certification."

He said state statutes require this, but they are lacking on the "e-cert" document signed by the two men.

Under emergency certification, a bill does not follow the usual committee process.

For the gun law, it started with several bipartisan task forces and then was negotiated by the leaders after some 60 hours of hearings around the state where the public could weigh in on firearms policy, but the exact terms were not unveiled until shortly before it was adopted on April 4.

Sachs thought there was a problem with other emergency certified laws going back to 1955.

"I believe what they are going to have to do is start from scratch" on the gun law, Sachs said.

Gabe Rosenberg, spokesman for Sharkey, had no comment, while Adam Joseph, spokesman for Williams said:

"President Williams and Speaker Sharkey submitted the e-cert in accordance with state law and the Joint Rules for the House and Senate."

(c)2013 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)

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