On Jan. 1, 2014, tens of thousands of defiant gun owners seemingly made the choice not to register their semi-automatic rifles with the state of Connecticut as required by a hastily-passed gun control law. By possessing unregistered so-called “assault rifles,” they all technically became guilty of committing Class D felonies overnight.
Police had received 47,916 applications for “assault weapons certificates” and 21,000 incomplete applications as of Dec. 31, Lt. Paul Vance told The Courant.
At roughly 50,000 applications, officials estimate that as little as 15 percent of the covered semi-automatic rifles have actually been registered with the state. “No one has anything close to definitive figures, but the most conservative estimates place the number of unregistered assault weapons well above 50,000, and perhaps as high as 350,000,” the report states.
Needless to say, officials and some lawmakers are stunned.
Due to the new gun control bill passed in April, likely at least 20,000 individual people — possibly as many as 100,000 — are now in direct violation of the law for refusing to register their guns. As we noted above, that act is now a Class D Felony.
Mike Lawlor, “the state's top official in criminal justice,” suggested maybe the firearms unit in Connecticut could “sent them a letter.” However, he said an aggressive push to prosecute gun owners in the state is not going to happen at this point.
Lawlor, the undersecretary for criminal justice policy in the state Office of Policy and Management, also suggested that the legislature should reopen the registration period to encourage more gun owners to register their firearms.
You may recall the viral photo of Connecticut gun owners waiting in line to register their guns in December, which one person said reminded them of the "Weimar Germany."
Republican state Sen. Tony Guglielmo told The Courant he recently spoke to a constituent at a meeting in Ashford, who informed him that some of his friends with semi-automatic rifles are intentionally taking a stand.
"He made the analogy to prohibition,” the lawmaker recalled. “I said, 'You're talking about civil disobedience, and he said 'Yes.’”
Guglielmo said he really thought the "vast majority would register."
Other officials think the low registration numbers are due to ignorance on behalf of gun owners who aren’t aware of the new law. It's impossible to know the main reason why gun owners aren't showing up to register their guns without hearing from them directly, though Guglielmo's constituent indicates at least some are practicing "civil disobedience."
“Sorting out the number of potential new felons is a guessing game. State police have not added up the total number of people who registered the 50,000 firearms, Vance said. So even if we knew the number of illegal guns in the state, we'd have a hard time knowing how many owners they had,” the report concludes.