Gun Control

Connecticut's Gun Controllers, Deliberative by New York Standards, Still Produce a Puzzling Mess


Office of the Governor

As J.D. Tuccille noted yesterday, the Connecticut General Assembly is passing a new set of gun restrictions on an "emergency" basis, thereby avoiding the inconvenience and potential embarrassment of public hearings. Still, Connecticut's legislators are slowpokes compared to New York's, who managed to pass a gun control package demanded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo three months ago, on the first full day of their current session. (It helps if you don't bother to read legislation before approving it.) Did the people of Connecticut benefit from their legislature's comparatively contemplative approach? That depends on your perspective.

While New York reduced its magazine limit from 10 rounds to seven, Connecticut, which had no magazine limit until now, settled on 10 in its Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety. That might strike gun controllers as inexcusably lax, but it does have the advantage (or disadvantage?) of corresponding to magazines that actually exist. Cuomo, after realizing he had mandated magazines that are not available for most firearms, proposed changing the law so that people can still buy 10-round magazines, as long as they don't put more than seven rounds in them. I am totally serious. Connecticut's lawmakers liked that approach so much that they decreed something similar for currently owned (and properly "declared") magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds: You can keep them as long as you don't load them with more than 10 rounds. Except at home. Or the shooting range. Or on Tuesdays. OK, I a made up that last one. But Connecticut does cut gun owners a bit more slack than New York does when it comes to loading their magazines.

While Connecticut's legislators apparently can imagine self-defense scenarios where people might benefit from having more than 10 rounds in a magazine at home, they seem to think that possibility is inconceivable at a "place of business," where the 10-round limit applies even to magazines capable of holding more. Still, they treat adding an extra round as a less serious offense than their New York counterparts, making it a Class C misdemeanor (punishable by up to three months in jail), compared to a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by up to six months in jail) in New York. Possessing a previously owned "large capacity magazine" without declaring it is an "infraction" punishable by a $90 fine the first time around, after which it leaps to a Class D felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years—the same as the penalty for possessing a "large capacity magazine" purchased after this section takes effect on January 1. Given the lenient treatment of a first offense by owners of previously purchased but undeclared "large capacity magazines" (a small fine rather than a prison sentence), why would anyone admit to obtaining one after the law took effect, especially since the government would have a hard time proving he had?

Connecticut's approach to broadening its "assault weapon" ban is similar to New York's: In addition to adding scores of models to its list of guns that are prohibited by name, Connecticut is reducing the number of tolerable "military-style" characteristics from one to zero. A semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine will henceforth be deemed an "assault weapon" in Connecticut, for example, if it has one or more of these features:  1) "a folding or telescoping stock," 2) "any grip of the weapon, including a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, or any other stock, the use of which would allow an individual to grip the weapon, resulting in any finger on the trigger hand in addition to the trigger finger being directly below any portion of the action of the weapon when firing," 3) "a forward pistol grip," 4) "a flash suppressor," or 5) "a grenade launcher or flare launcher."

New York lists seven features instead of five. One of the additional two is a thumbhole stock, counted separately from "a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon"; the other is a "bayonet mount," which Connecticut decided to drop because it was so fucking ridiculous the ability to skewer victims at close range has yet to prove decisive in a mass shooting. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also left "bayonet mount" out of her new, supposedly improved "assault weapon" ban, although she is still determined to ban the barrel shrouds that apparently do not trouble legislators in New York or Connecticut (except on pistols), and she upped the silliness factor by tacking on "rocket launcher." Then again, Feinstein dropped flash suppressors, which New York and Connecticut continue to view as an intolerable threat to public safety, from her list of forbidden features. (She does, however, include "a threaded barrel…designed in such a manner to allow for the attachment of a device such as a firearm silencer or a flash suppressor.") It's almost like these definitions are completely arbitrary.

Current owners of newly redefined "assault weapons" in Connecticut are required to register those guns with the state. Possessing a previously owned but unregistered "assault weapon" is a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to a year in jail) the first time around; then it becomes a Class D felony, punishable by at least a year and as much as five years in prison. That's the same as the penalty for possessing a newly acquired "assault weapon." In short, while you can slap as many barrel shrouds or bayonet mounts on your gun as you want in Connecticut, a flash suppressor or adjustable stock can send you to prison. For the children.

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  1. All I can say is I look forward to people litigating the shit out of these new guns laws.

    1. You’d think but based on how timid courts are towards gun rights, I’d bet a lot of these dumbass laws stand. And if so, you’ll have a crazy quilt of a country when it comes to each state’s gun laws.

      Say you own a gun perfectly legal in LA and you drive to ME for a hunting trip. But that gun is illegal in other states in New England. Do you have to travel around those states to avoid being a felon? Our constitution does have a “full faith and credit clause” but I don’t expect gun banning states to honor it when it comes to gun rights.

      1. There are federal travel exemptions to state gun laws. (Good luck trying to get NY cops to obey them)

      2. When traveling with guns you need to check the laws of every state you are planning to go through.

        Some states are fine if the guns are unloaded and stored in locked cases that are not readily accessible. Others are far more restrictive and owners have found themselves in big trouble, especially with handguns.

        You might find some answers here.

      3. The federal Firearm Owners Protection Act allows you to transport firearms to and from states where they are legal without having to worry about the states in between provided that the firearm is stored in the trunk or cargo area, is unloaded and is in a locked case or container. You also can’t stop for any significant amount of time in the states where the gun is illegal. What exactly constitutes a significant amount of time is hazy, but is generally thought to be anything more than stopping for gas or to go to the bathroom.

        1. Where does being detained by the police fall on the “significant amount” spectrum?

          1. Depends on the police. Unfortunately, few police officers know about the law and others ignore it, so while you could beat prison time with it, it isn’t exactly proof against being arrested.

            1. I was thinking more like you get pulled over, the cop has a dog, you get alerted on, and the resulting search turns up your weapons being transported IAW federal law. Is your traffic stop a significant amount of time?

              1. I wouldn’t think so, since the state created the circumstances. It’d be like the cops in NYC making people dump their pockets and then arresting them for public display of marijuana.

                1. Ha, good one!

        2. Also, if you’re flying between two states with a legally/properly checked firearm, hope/pray the plane doesn’t get diverted to nj or ny or similar states.

          1. That’s how they nailed kwais, if I recall.

      4. Crazy quilts = federalism!

        Seriously, fuck federalism. Forcing libertarianism down everyone’s throat is fine by me.

        1. So basically, it seems like the answer is avoid these crazy states altogether. Which is almost impossible if you have any desire to pursue life, property or happiness. We all know cops will arrest and/or beat you, throw you in jail and even if you win, everything leading up to the acquittal was no big deal to modern tough-on-crime judges.

          America – what a country!

  2. Legislation that rode into the state capital on the back of hysterics wasn’t going to be mindfully crafted in the first place. And we have seen that sweeping laws designed to chip healthily away at Constitutional protections never seem to be well thought out.

    1. Don’t know about “mindfully” but it isn’t new. These are the same bills they’ve been pushing since the 1990s or earlier. You’ld think they would learn something in the process.

  3. 1) “a folding or telescoping stock,” 2) “any grip of the weapon, including a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, or any other stock, the use of which would allow an individual to grip the weapon, resulting in any finger on the trigger hand in addition to the trigger finger being directly below any portion of the action of the weapon when firing,” 3) “a forward pistol grip,” 4) “a flash suppressor,” or 5) “a grenade launcher or flare launcher.”

    OK I don’t know. I didn’t use to think they could be that stupid really. I guess I thought they were doing it just to be spiteful and piss off the Other. But in light of Colorado’s newly californificated representation, I have to wonder.

    Do they, when they are staying late and working hard to come up with these new bills, sit around looking at magazine pictures of an AK-47 and watching Terminator 2 trying to figure out which are the dangerous parts that make go boom?

    “Guys, check this out. You see, all the evil guys in the movie, their guns have these levers right here above the handle. I think that might be the poison gas release trigger.”

    1. I’m surprised they’ve never outlawed the side grip. Well, AFAIK they haven’t.


        God help us if these people ever figure out what bumpfire means.

        1. The ATF’s way ahead of you.

    2. You really think that our lawmakers with their huge educated staffs sit around and watch Terminator 2 to educate themselves on guns?

      You’re crazy.

      Military-style assault weapons have but one purpose, and in my view that’s a military purpose, to hold at the hip, possibly, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers.

      They obviously are watching Rambo.

      1. What fucking military trains it’s soldiers to shoot from the hip?

        That’s Bond villain level stupid.

        1. And what military trains it’s soldiers to “spray fire”?

          UIAM most militaries still teach infantrymen to fire aimed individual shots with multi-round bursts to be used only for for selected situations.

        2. Maybe they were watching Tropic Thunder? Hot Shots Part Deux?

  4. I suppose that they figure that only crazy extremist gun nuts would insist on reading the bill first. Besides, reading is, like, work! What sort of cruel monster would expect a politician to work?

  5. “Did the people politicians of Connecticut benefit from their legislature’s comparatively contemplative approach going full retard? That depends on your perspective their re-election prospects, and desire to be “primaried” in 2014.


  6. There can be no laws against guns while the ability and desire to continue manufacturing guns exists.

    The registration process is silly.

    The outlawing particular class of guns is also silly.

    The only thing that would work is draconian laws such as

    – Outlawing the manufacturing and possession of all devices including any firearm in which the law is written to include any device such as guns, star wars blasters, etc.

    – Draconian sentences for those that do not disobey.

    – Confiscate guns from all people once found.

    – Declare martial law in order to go thru people’s houses to take their guns.

    – And maybe killing the next of kin for those who violate the manufacturing and possession.

    I don’t see Americans wanting to do this. So, we have to live the guns.

    1. – Outlawing the manufacturing and possession of all devices including any firearm in which the law is written to include any device such as guns, star wars blasters, etc.

      – Draconian sentences for those that do not disobey.

      – Confiscate guns from all people once found.

      – Declare martial law in order to go thru people’s houses to take their guns.

      – And maybe killing the next of kin for those who violate the manufacturing and possession.


      1. The birds will be eaten on Tuesday. NOT MONDAY!

        1. But Tuesday is Soylent Green day.

    2. Exactly. You can’t ban things that people want. If people want drugs, they’ll get them regardless of the law. Same with guns.

    3. Star Wars Blaster from my cold dead hands you may take.

    4. Sounds almost exactly like the Daily Kos’ plan to ban all guns.

      1. Hahaha. They have a “Should we ban all guns in the next decade?” poll, and it only got 1% of the vote. No gun ban got 96% of the vote, and some joke answer they put got 6%. “Yes we need a gun ban” got 1/6 of the number of votes that a joke answer got at freaking Daily Kos.

        That tells me that a gun ban will not be forthcoming.

      2. Fuck. I read some of the comments there.

        1. Do you need to sit down….or maybe a CAT scan? You only have so many IQ points don’t go wasting them at DailyKos.

        2. I did the same. Argh, my eyes!

        3. Aren’t you the guy
          who tried to tell me that the President could confiscate all guns in the country with a stroke of his pen?

          by kestrel9000 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 04:26:56 AM PST

          i still maintain that he can and should
          by sporks on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 04:51:24 AM PST


          1. On the bright side, that Kestrel guy and Johnny Wurther seem to have their heads on straight:

            You’re still wrong. (8+ / 0-)
            Not without declaring martial law.

            by kestrel9000 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:01:02 AM PST

            nope (0+ / 0-)
            he doesn’t need any of that bullshit. one stroke of a pen, guns are reclassified.

            of course, its messy. this way is far cleaner.

            by sporks on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:03:25 AM PST

            he can’t. (9+ / 0-)
            except in the fever dreams of the mad.

            by johnny wurster on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:13:56 AM PST

            1. nope (0+ / 0-)
              he doesn’t need any of that bullshit. one stroke of a pen, guns are reclassified.

              of course, its messy. this way is far cleaner.

              by sporks on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:03:25 AM PST

              That could have been written by Tony or one of the other pet trolls. Granted, Shrike would add a few more things like “With one stroke of the pen, He could arm all the Mexican drug gangs and have them come in and disarm us! And I’d support it! So you guys are really for gun control!”

            2. no it wouldn’t (0+ / 0-)
              gun control is super popular now. that combined with the president, we can do anything we want.

              by sporks on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:48:41 AM PST

              Holy fuckballs.

      3. On first read of that article, I thought it could be Swiftian. If I was writing a modest proposal like that, it wouldn’t be *that* different. I’d include some things to try to make progressives squirm/get tingles up their legs.

        Banning 3d printing, pipes of various diameters at the hardware store (“no one’s saying you can’t buy quarter inch pipe, it just has to be less than a quarter inch, and use these adaptors”).

        Also maybe bans on political activity in support of gun “rights”. Throw that in as part of a Citizen’s United overturning.

        Of course you’d have no due process if you didn’t register a gun.

        Etc., etc.

        Every now and then I’m tempted to start an account at Kos or DU or Huffington, and run something like that up the flagpole. See how many salute.

    5. And this would be why I’m a firm proponent if a uniform law (non negotiable/ loophole resistant) that links all civilians in a given state to these ridiculous feel good laws. When you include ALL law enforcement, and the various federal alphabet soups residing in that state or entering it(all civilian by nature) to the laws of the these states that implement them, you will see a common front with citizens and the police unions to crush these asinine political stunts.

      1. I agree with you on this. If our betters had to live under the same rules, things would be a lot different around here.

  7. I thought I would despair at the sight of America’s pioneer blood having proven to run so thin. Instead I find I’m laughing at the absurd combination of cowardice, dishonesty and stupidity.

  8. And yet, people persist in assuring me no significantly restrictive new laws will be put in place.

    1. Elsewhere on the interwebs, I keep hearing people claim that, too–why are these gun nut so afraid that we’re going to take their guns away?!

      Almost invariably, they’re the same ones, later in the thread, who are arguing that individuals don’t have a right to own guns–only a well regulated militia.

      1. When I was in the National Guard I only got to handle my rifle while at the range and later to clean it in the armory. The rest of the year, it was locked away.

        Did the Founders really write the Second Amendment so our Army could have guns?

        1. Our founder’s weren’t sure they even wanted a standing army. My favorite political quote comes from those debates:

          “A standing army is like a standing member. It’s an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure.”

          1. It’s almost as if they meant common citizens to own the same weapons as a military.

            1. If you read the Federalist Papers, it’s pretty clear that one of the main purposes of the Second Amendment was to help ensure that we would be able to resist a standing army. Historically, standing armies are often used against the people, and the framers thought a standing army would facilitate tyranny from the executive.

              It’s also clear from the same Federalist Papers precisely what they meant by “regulated”. A “well regulated militia” is a militia made up of people–who already know how to use their weapons. The use of that term in that way is preserved, somewhat, in modern English with the term “regular army” as opposed to raw recruits.

              “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

              In other words, a militia that could rise up against a standing army is necessary to the security of a free State, so the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

              No other reading makes sense to me.

              1. This is the sentence I was referring to:

                “To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.”


                So, let’s have the liberal read that sentence and then tell us what the term “well-regulated” means.

                I’ll tell you what it means: it means “well trained” with their weapons.

        2. Got more time than me – at only one unit in the 21 years I was in did i have weapon issued to me specifically. That I got to shoot about once every year and a half and clean every couple of months.

          The rest of the units issued them on a first come-first served basis during drills and emergencies.

          1. The Marine Corps was very different – I lived with that M16. Even in the Marine Reserves, we got our weapons on Friday night and turned them in Sunday – no matter what we were doing.

  9. “Possessing a previously owned but unregistered “assault weapon” is a Class A misdemeanor”.

    Why isn’t that ex post facto?

    1. Good question. Probably is but ex post facto may apply to conduct rather than ownership. Ya know how it goes: there’s the law, and then there’s what the judge says.

      1. If the government can force us to buy health insurance or eat broccoli, then I guess they can force us to register something–and maybe that’s what they think they’re doing. They don’t think they’re punishing you for owning it–they think they’re punishing you for not registering it.

        But that looks like a distinction without a difference to me. If they bust you for owning it without having registered it, they’re busting you for having it in your possession. … and that looks ex post facto illegal ownership to me.

        If I’m sittin’ on the jury, nobody’s goin’ to jail just for that.

        1. Registration is for Tulpa.

      2. It is not ex post facto because you would not be prosecuted for possession that took place prior to the ban’s becoming effective. Only possession of the contraband following the ban’s becoming effective would constitute a crime.

        1. Possession is about as passive an activity as you can engage in while it still remaining an activity.

          If they’re taking it away from you, they should have to compensate you for it. I don’t think they’re going after you for owning it.

          It think they’re just going after you for failing to register it–and they think that somehow gets them around the Second Amendment.

          1. Again, however, the law doesn’t punish action that took place before the law was enacted. That means it’s not an ex post facto issue. The prohibition on ex post facto laws is meant to protect the people from being punished for breaking laws that didn’t exist at the time. In the case of a new prohibition, you can avoid punishment by surrendering the prohibited item. In the case of a new registration requirement, you can avoid punishment by complying with the registration regime. There may be other constitutional problems with either of these classes of law but they’re just fine with the ex post facto clause provided they don’t attempt to punish you for your conduct prior to the enactment of the new law.

            1. By doing nothing in the past, you weren’t committing a crime.

              By doing nothing now, you’re committing a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

              Take a closer look at what I wrote up yonder…

              “If they bust you for owning it without having registered it, they’re busting you for having it in your possession.”

              I think they’re hiding criminalizing ownership in the sheep’s clothing of requiring registration.

              1. None of which answers anything that I wrote. Pick one of the several valid criticisms to level against this legislation, not one that doesn’t even remotely apply. Provided the state remains within its other constitutional limitation, it’s 100% constitutional to make something illegal that wasn’t illegal before.

                The courts are likely to draw a distinction between banning all firearms, or an entire class of firearm, and banning unregistered firearms – and I’d bet that that last ban is A-OK in their eyes.

                1. What is the purpose of requiring registration?

                  Are there people who owned these guns legally, as of last week, who no longer own them legally?

  10. There is a dude that knows what is going on. Wow, I like it.

  11. or any other stock, the use of which would allow an individual to grip the weapon, resulting in any finger on the trigger hand in addition to the trigger finger being directly below any portion of the action of the weapon when firing

    So I, um, don’t have a rifle on me to test and be sure, and I’m not saying this would be safe or a good idea or anything, but couldn’t someone with big hands conceivably just take their middle finger off the grip of a non-assaulty rifle and sit it under the trigger guard? Or at least more generally “below any portion of the action”?

    1. Then if you have big hands you are forbidden from owning a gun – sounds like its working as intended.

    2. Doesn’t this describe every automatic pistol and almost every pistol caliber carbines?

      1. According to the post that provision only applies to semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines.

        1. So just every carbine.

    3. There are a number of semiauto rifles (see the M-1 Garand) where the action continues far enough back to be over the first finger behind the trigger guard.

  12. They are banning safety features. A pistol grip helps you keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. A silencer helps keep you from damaging your hearing in a self defense situation. Magazines that hold more than ten rounds allow you to avoid reloading when seconds count and you life is in danger. Barrel shrouds keep you from getting burned. Flash suppressors keep you from being blinded if you’re forced to fire in a dark room. The only thing they’re accomplishing is to put the law abiding in greater danger.

    1. The thing is the people trying to ban ’em don’t understand how guns work.

      They don’t understand that a pistol grip is not for hip-firing but allows you to carry and control the weapon easier (and that militaries don’t hip-fire, only poorly trained militias). that there’s a functional reason that 30 round magazines are popular, a good ratio of rounds to weight. That you might have to fire the weapon so many times that the barrel will heat up – I’ve got a lever-action .44 rifle that will get uncomfortably hot to the touch after only 1 .44 mag round through it.

      these laws are crafted by ignorant people who think the issue is important enough to legislate, but not important enough to actually study the issue.

  13. This is the part that got me.

    Possessing a previously owned but unregistered “assault weapon” is a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to a year in jail) the first time around; then it becomes a Class D felony, punishable by at least a year and as much as five years in prison.

    Is that a reference to multiple previously owned weapons? Same person caught again? How does that work?

  14. Are these guys ever gonna pass any laws that I will actually obey? I can’t really keep track anymore. I’m just start doing whatever the hell I want. Their laws have no legitimacy to me so if they’re going to continue down that road I am under no obligation to recognize their authority. I guess that makes me my own sovereign nation.

  15. I got two emails today from people in Connecticutt wondering what they had to do to move with their guns to Texas (Nothing. We don’t mess with registration nonsence and don’t have silly restrictions on what you own) and what our gun laws are (DPS posts their booklet at…..CHL-16.pdf).

  16. You’ll be writing the same article this evening about Maryland.

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