Breaking news in Connecticut is the new gun control legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy on April 4, 2013. The 139-page bill was drafted by a bipartisan group of legislators, and is considered by many to impose the toughest gun laws in the nation.  The most prominent features of the new law are that it adds more than 100 firearms to the list of banned assault weapons in Connecticut, establishes a statewide registry for people convicted of crimes involving dangerous weapons for use by law enforcement, requires background checks on all weapon sales including those made at gun shows and limits the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds. 

The law also requires that residents obtain eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition, and provides harsher penalties for illegal possession of firearms and trafficking.  The law also expands mental health research, provides for mental health training to teachers and sets safety standards for school buildings.

Though the bill passed without much difficulty and was scheduled to be signed into law by the Governor even before the General Assembly House had voted on and passed the bill, support for the bill was anything but 100%.  On one hand, Senate President Donald Williams praised the bill and called the measure the “strongest and most comprehensive gun bill in the country” that was “a model for the other 49 states and Congress.” Meanwhile, other senators argue that the bill impinges too much on the rights of lawful gun owners.  For instance, Republican state Sen. John Kissel expressed concern that placing further regulations on firearms and ammunition in a state that already has some of the toughest laws in the country “goes one step too far.”  Other senators like Republican Scott Franz believe that there is “too much emphasis on gun regulations.”

The new law has also received praise and scrutiny in the public eye. For instance, parents of some of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy publicly praised the bill as “historic” and an example for Congress of the type of bipartisan cooperation necessary to make the country safer.  Gun rights advocates on the other hand criticized the bill and question whether it would have done anything to prevent the Sandy Hook tragedy.  For instance, Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, suggested that “if it did something to prevent this incident, where the fault lies with the individual and the mother, not with the legitimate gun owners in this state, then we could probably support” some sort of legislation.

Perhaps the best news related to the new Connecticut legislation is the spike in sales at firearms retailers throughout the state in response to the expected passing of the law.  According to news reports, retailers saw heavy increases in sales throughout the first three months of 2013, and received a further spike in business during the last few days with the announcement that legislators had reached an agreement on new legislation which would impose additional bans on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.  The customers were all flocking to stock up on firearms, magazines and ammunition before the new restrictions on their sale and possession could be imposed.  In fact, some retailers even opened their stores on days they are typically closed in order to accommodate the demand and attempt to clear their inventory of products which they were concerned they might not be able to sell once the new legislation became effective.

The new legislation may also negatively impact jobs in Connecticut.  Currently, three firearms manufacturers, two of which are among the largest in the country, are based in Connecticut and employ nearly 3,000 people within the state.  The new legislation, however, could lead these companies to consider moving their operations and the 3,000 jobs related to them to other states.  For instance, Stag Arms, located in New Britain, CT, was founded by a Connecticut native just ten years ago and produces roughly 6,000 AR-15 rifles per month which are considered banned assault weapons under the new legislation.  As a result, Stag’s owner, Mark Malkowski, is now being forced to consider leaving his home state and left wondering why he would continue to produce his product and create jobs in a state that deems that product “so bad [and] so dangerous.”  In the end, time will tell whether Stag and its Connecticut firearms manufacturer brethren Colt and Mossberg will remain in Connecticut or take their business and jobs elsewhere.

For more information on the Connecticut legislation and its legal implications to citizens, retailers, distributors and manufacturers, please contact John Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.  For more articles from and past issues of RLF’s In Our Sights newsletter, or to subscribe click here.