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

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Connecticut's gun laws hamper business

By GOPUSA - 12/1713

BRANFORD -- It's been about 10 months since Mike Higgins opened the doors at TGS Outdoors, and while he'd like to hire more employees, he said the state's new gun laws are hindering his business's ability to grow.

"I'd love to hire more people if I could grow my business, but I don't have the product to sell," Higgins said.

Higgins said his shop's spot in Branford is a prime location near a number of hunting clubs. The opening of the store caused some controversy and sparked a couple of town meetings, although Higgins argued that the number of supporters vastly outnumbered the opposition, and that the media sensationalized the issue.

New state laws have created a tough situation for gun store owners, he said. Before the law went into effect, Higgins said, for example, he could have sold a standard Glock pistol with a 13-round magazine. The same applies to a number of other guns. Now, he must purchase models that take smaller magazines, which aren't as common.

Gun manufacturers aren't going to change their entire assembly lines to accommodate laws from a handful of states, he said.

There also has been a persistent shortage of ammunition that existed even before the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shootings, Higgins said.

"I will either succeed or fail on my own merits," he said as a business owner. "I don't want the government interfering with that."

Meanwhile, those who lawfully bought a gun now classified as an assault weapon under new state law or magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds as of April 3, 2013, will have to register them with the state before Jan. 1, 2014.

So far, state police have received about 4,000 applications to register magazines and 4,500 for newly-classified assault weapons, said Lt. J Paul Vance. It is hard to say whether there will be slew of applications in the final weeks before the law goes into effect.

"With holidays and everything coming up, we encourage people who are being a little slow to make it happen and get it completed," Vance said about the registration process.

At one point, the state faced a backlog of more than 9,300 background checks, according to The Associated Press. That figure included both pistol permit applications and checks for employment. There also were 62,000 gun registrations for transfer of firearms either by gun dealers or private parties.

The state added more staff and the backlog was reduced dramatically, Vance said.

"We still have a backlog, there is no question," he said. "People buy guns every day."

Higgins said some of his customers are still confused about the new laws. His uncle is a Vietnam War veteran and has been buying ammunition for decades for his two long guns but despite his service to the country, he will still have to obtain an ammunition certificate. The application fee is $35, something Higgins said will make it more difficult for his uncle, who lives on a fixed income.

The new state laws allow active law enforcement, military personnel and some other sworn and certified members of other groups to buy banned assault weapons. Law enforcement officers must obtain a letter from his or her department authorizing the purchase and stating the weapon will be used in discharge of official duties, as well as off-duty, according to a frequently asked questions page on the state police website.

Large-capacity magazines can be purchased and filled to full capacity, and assault weapon transfer laws don't apply and assault weapons don't have to be registered for active law enforcement officers. Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines must be registered within 90 days of an officer retiring or separating from the department.

Another by-product of the new laws is that it makes it more difficult to surprise someone with a gun for the holidays. TGS Outdoors received a call from a woman on Thursday who wanted to buy her husband a long gun for Christmas. She didn't have a hunting license, pistol permit or long gun certificate, so an employee told her she would have to wait two weeks to purchase it.

The woman decided she would buy an empty case and get the gun after the holidays.

A part of the law that will go into effect April 1, 2014, will require those who want to purchase a long gun to have either a valid pistol permit or long gun eligibility certificate.

Higgins argued that the state didn't need new gun laws; it just has to enforce ones that were already on the books, such as making sure convicted felons don't possess guns.

"You can tell these laws are written by people who don't understand how guns work," he said.

The largest growing segment of the gun-owning population is women. He argued the new laws could be interpreted as being anti-woman and against the poor and elderly because of new fees and restrictions related to buying weapons and ammunition.

Advocates contend that the state's new gun laws will help keep people safe. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently released a report that ranked Connecticut as being second in the nation for gun laws that will help reduce gun violence and keep people safe. The state is only behind California in the list.

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Senior Staff Attorney Laura Cutilletta said the organization has been tracking state and federal gun laws for about 20 years. This year, it partnered with the Brady Campaign to put out the report.

The methodology of the report awards points for certain laws such as background checks requirements that are believed to improve gun safety.

Laws that weaken gun control are worth negative points, Cutilletta said. The relative strength or weakness of a law also is taken into account; for example, a law that only affects handguns is worth less than one that encompasses both handguns and long guns.

Although it's important that states enact strong gun laws, federal laws can have a greater impact, Cutilletta said. California has the highest ranking in the center's list at an A- letter grade, but it is surrounded by states that received Ds and Fs.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence was founded after a mass shooting at 101 California St. in San Francisco left nine people dead, including the gunman. One of the guns used came from Nevada, Cutilletta said.

"That is why we desperately need federal laws," she said.

A total of 21 states improved gun laws since the Sandy Hook shootings, Cutilletta said. The center hasn't seen such a high number of states pass that many laws within a single year since it was founded about 20 years ago.

Connecticut received high marks for requiring certificates for the purchase of long guns and ammunition, she said.

The ban on large-capacity magazines and adding additional assault weapons to the banned list also helped Connecticut rise up from number four on the list last year. Mental health laws and the gun offender registry also added points to the state's total score.

(c)2013 New Haven Register

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