Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites


Are the Wheels Coming Off in Connecticut?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Confusion runs rampant in the Constitution State, where a draconian gun registration scheme has spurred massive civil disobedience, the state police mailed ominous letters to gun owners that they later denied sending, and as many as 300,000 previously lawful gun owners, trapped in the cogs of an overreaching state government, woke up one morning as felons.

In the waning moments of Dec. 31, 2013, as millions of Americans raised their champagne glasses and counted down to 2014, an estimated 300,000 residents of Connecticut gulped. In a matter of seconds they’d gone from law-abiding citizens to people committing felonies. 

In the preceding months, certain Connecticut gun owners had been faced with a decision: Should they register the firearms they owned that state politicians now deemed “assault weapons” for nebulous reasons, or should they hide them away or ship them out of state? The sweeping definition of an “assault weapon” under Connecticut statute is too long to print here (nearly 600 words), but can be read at: www.jud.ct.gov/ji/criminal/glossary/assaultweapon.htm.

After Jan.1, 2014, some Connecticut residents simply gave in or, like many do with the annual income-tax deadline, didn’t get the paperwork done in time. The form, after all, requires a thumbprint and must be notarized. Whatever their reasons, they sent the Connecticut State Police (CSP) an “Assault Weapon Certificate Application” after the deadline.

Connecticut, however, wouldn’t be as forgiving as even the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS allows people to file extensions for late returns. The CSP would do no such thing.

In February, the CSP mailed letters to people who sent in late applications, telling them they could:

  1. Render the "assault weapon" permanently inoperable;
  2. Sell the "assault weapon" to a licensed dealer;
  3. Remove the "assault weapon" from the state; or
  4. Make arrangements to relinquish the "assault weapon" to a police department
    or the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The letter was signed, “Sincerely, lt. Eric Cooke, Commanding Officer, Special Licensing and Firearms Unit.”

Shortly after that, things got strange and the CSP was caught in a public relations nightmare. When Connecticut residents who had received the letters made copies of the letter public, the CSP’s Special Licensing and Firearms Unit denied having ever sent them.

Anna Kopperud, the NRA’s state lobbyist for Connecticut, called the CSP’s Special Licensing and Firearms Unit on both Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 to find out the options available to gun owners in Connecticut.

“The CSP spent a day and a half telling me there was no such letter,” Kopperud said. “When I asked if a letter had been forged and, if so, how did someone get gun owners’ addresses, they said they didn’t know.”

The CSP’s denial of sending the letter was widely reported by bloggers, on firearm-related websites and by the media.

However, questions sent by America’s 1st Freedom to the CSP’s department spokesman, lt. J. Paul Vance, drew a much different answer on Feb. 28.

“The letter was sent [by lt. Cooke] to people who did not register their weapon by the deadline,” Vance said. “It was simply an effort to assist them and advise them of some choices they have.”

It is unclear why the CSP initially denied sending the letter and gave the impression that the letter was a forgery sent by someone outside the organization. Likewise, it is unclear if a gun owner who is in the process of transporting such a firearm out of state or to a gun dealer to “dispose of” it might be charged with a felony if they’re caught. Would the letter from lt. Cooke give them safe passage?

Such is just the first blush of problems that arise when state legislatures decide to ban firearms and require tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens to report their ownership to the police.

Note that the numbers of gun owners who might still have “assault weapons” in Connecticut are not just pure speculation. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearm manufacturers, estimates there are likely 350,000 residents of Connecticut who owned now-banned “assault weapons” as of late 2013.

The NSSF says, “The 350,000 number is a conservative estimate based upon numerous surveys, consumer purchases, NICS background check data and also private party transactions.” The NSSF used the same criteria to estimate that at least 1 million New York residents have firearms the state banned the sale of and demanded that owners register with the police.

As of Dec. 31, 2013, according to lt. Vance, the CSP had received 41,347 applications to register “assault weapons,” and 36,932 applications to register so-called “high-capacity” magazines. That means more than 300,000 Connecticut residents may have decided not to register their “assault weapons,” moved them out of state or sold them.

The next question is what the state will do about all those gun owners who now might be in illegal possession of a previously owned “assault weapon.” Will the CSP ask for search warrants? Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) has been using a “Sale or Transfer of All Firearms” form (www.ct.gov/dps/lib/dps/special_licensing_and_firearms/dps-3-c.pdf) at the retail level that acts as a de facto registration scheme, as it requires that gun sales, along with make, model, serial number and the buyer’s information, be reported to the DESPP and the police. As a result, the CSP has information on which residents might own an unregistered firearm the state considers an “assault weapon.”

When asked if the CSP would use late-registration applications to obtain warrants to seize “assault weapons” Vance largely avoided answering the question.

“Again, we don’t make the laws,” he said. “Our legislature has that responsibility.”

It is also unclear whether the CSP might attempt to use existing gun-registration records to obtain warrants to search the residences of the Connecticut residents who might have such unregistered firearms.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s gun owners have become a class apart. I asked a few Connecticut gun owners who own—or used to own—so-called “assault weapons” what they are doing in response to the current situation.

The people I spoke with don’t believe in gun registries. They believe the Second Amendment is a restriction placed on the government to safeguard the citizenry’s right to own and bear arms. This restriction—a negative liberty—surely prevents local, state and the federal government from mandating that citizens apply to the government for their rights. So they’ve been reluctant to give the state their gun information.

“I just came from my local gun store,” one told me. “I had to test a shotgun refitted with a straight stock to make it compliant. It still holds nine rounds, but the world is now a little safer without that ‘evil’ pistol grip.

Another told me: “I have four friends who have either bought homes or property out of Connecticut or are shopping hard. This issue was the final straw for them.”

Several said they had shipped their “bad” guns out of state. 

What happens next is initially up to the state legislatures and governors who wrote, passed and signed “assault weapons” legislation into law in Connecticut, New York and Maryland. Court challenges, including one backed by the NRA, are underway. Elections are coming. 

But when tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens suddenly have to either give up property they lawfully acquired or potentially commit felonies, something has gone seriously awry. Let’s hope the powers-that-be in Connecticut realize that and reverse course on this ill-considered, unworkable law.

SCOTUS Reverses and Remands Two NRA-ILA Backed Magazine Cases


Thursday, June 30, 2022

SCOTUS Reverses and Remands Two NRA-ILA Backed Magazine Cases

One week after our landmark victory in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the Supreme Court issued orders in two other NRA-ILA backed cases. Those cases, ANJRPC v. Bruck and Duncan v. Bonta, challenge New Jersey and California laws that ban magazines capable ...

The Dominoes Begin to Fall: NJ Amends Permit Rules After Bruen


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Dominoes Begin to Fall: NJ Amends Permit Rules After Bruen

New Jersey’s acting Attorney General, Matthew J. Platkin, issued a directive “clarifying requirements for carrying firearms in public” a day after the historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. ...

California Leaks Personal Data of Carry Permit Holders


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

California Leaks Personal Data of Carry Permit Holders

On Monday June 27, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the launch of the California Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Firearms Dashboard Portal. The data tool was designed to give granular firearm transaction and Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permit ...

NRA Wins Supreme Court Case, NYSRPA v. Bruen


Second Amendment  

Thursday, June 23, 2022

NRA Wins Supreme Court Case, NYSRPA v. Bruen

The National Rifle Association (NRA) welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The Court affirmed that the right to bear arms does not stop at a person’s front door. This is the most ...

Supreme Court Gets it Right, Congress Gets it Wrong

Friday, June 24, 2022

Supreme Court Gets it Right, Congress Gets it Wrong

On Thursday, SCOTUS released a historic decision in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case when they found the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding Americans to carry a firearm outside of the home. Despite the hysteria from ...

Delaware: Gun & Mag Bans Going to Gov. Carney

Friday, June 17, 2022

Delaware: Gun & Mag Bans Going to Gov. Carney

Last night, the House passed Senate Bill 6, to ban many standard capacity magazines in common use, sending it to Governor John Carney’s desk. The Senate passed House Bill 450, to ban many commonly-owned firearms, and ...

Delaware: General Assembly Passes Bills for Age Discrimination & Lawsuits Against Firearm Industry

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Delaware: General Assembly Passes Bills for Age Discrimination & Lawsuits Against Firearm Industry

Yesterday, the House voted 23-18 to pass Senate Bill 302 and the Senate voted 14-7 to pass House Bill 451. HB 451 then went back to the House, which voted 25-15 to concur. These two ...

Delaware: Senate Executive Committee Passes All Anti-Gun Bills

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Delaware: Senate Executive Committee Passes All Anti-Gun Bills

Today, the Senate Executive Committee passed all of the anti-gun bills before them. Yesterday, the House passed House Bill 423 by a vote of 40-0 and House Bill 451 by a vote of 27-13.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

California: Legislature Ignores SCOTUS and Continues to Push Gun Control

Monday, June 27, 2022

California: Legislature Ignores SCOTUS and Continues to Push Gun Control

Last week, the United States Supreme Court handed down a huge victory for gun owners, confirming what has been known all along: that the 2nd Amendment is not a second class right and should not be treated ...


More Like This From Around The NRA


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.