Earlier this year, Connecticut politicians
took advantage of the horrific Newtown shootings to dust off a wish
draconian firearms restrictions and race them through the
legislative process into law. The restrictions wouldn’t have
prevented the mass murder—they would have been completely
irrelevant to the crime, in fact—which may be why they were rammed
through under “emergency certification” with no referrals to
committees or public hearings. Among other things, the new law
of “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines by January 1,
2014. Any student of history could have predicted officials’
current concerns now that relatively few residents are complying
with the law and telling the state what they own as the deadline
Hugh McQuaid at CT News Junkie:
As of mid-November, the state had received about 4,100
applications for assault weapon certificates and about 2,900
declarations of large-capacity magazines.
Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criminal justice
advisor, said that so far fewer people than expected have
registered weapons under the new law. However, he said gun owners
should take seriously the consequences of ignoring the law.
Disregarding the registration requirements can carry felony charges
in some cases, which can make Connecticut residents ineligible to
First-time offenders who can prove they owned the weapon before
the law passed, and have otherwise followed the law, may be charged
with a class A misdemeanor. In other cases, possessing one of the
newly-banned guns will be considered a felony that carries with it
a sentence of at least a year in prison.
“If you haven’t declared it or registered it and you get caught
. . . you’ll be a felon. People who disregard the law are, among
other things, jeopardizing their right to own firearms. If you’re
not a law-abiding citizen, you’re not a law-abiding citizen,”
Mr. Lawlor (pictured at right),
like most government officials, seems to think he and his buddies
have invented policy out of whole cloth, and that the population
has no choice but to shuffle along and obey. But weapons
registration laws have a history—a consistent history,
as I’ve written, of noncompliance and defiance.
State officials could have taken a moment to glance across the
state line to New York City, where a few tens of thousands of
firearms are owned legally, and an estimated two million
are held illegally, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
That is not uncommon. In my piece on the history of gun control’s
failure, I wrote:
The high water mark of American compliance with gun control laws
may have come with Illinois’s handgun registration law in the
1970s. About 25 percent of handgun owners actually complied,
according to Don B. Kates, a criminologist and civil liberties
attorney, writing in the December 1977 issue of Inquiry.
After that, about 10 percent of “assault weapon” owners obeyed
California’s registration law, says David B. Kopel, research
director for Colorado’s Independence Institute, a free-market
think-tank, and author of The Samurai, The Mountie, and The
Cowboy, a book-length comparison of international firearms
That one-in-10 estimate may have been generous. As the
registration period came to a close in 1990, The New York
reported “only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in
private hands in the state have been registered.”
Connecticut may want to look close to home for even
lower compliance figures.
In New Jersey, reported The New York Times in 1991,
after the legislature passed a law banning “assault weapons,” 947
people registered their rifles as sporting guns for target
shooting, 888 rendered them inoperable, and four surrendered them
to the police. That’s out of an estimated 100,000 to 300,000
firearms affected by the law.
Over the years, officials in New York City and California used
registration records to confiscate guns, in violation of their own
promises. That’s a lesson that firearms owners have taken to heart
in this country (and elsewhere), probably permanently dooming the
enforceability of such laws.
The end result of pushing through gun laws that people won’t
obey is very predictable. You end up with a society in which people
continue to own vast numbers of weapons regardless of the law.
Connecticut may be on the way, sometime after the new year’s
registration deadline, to turning itself into a replica of Germany,
where up to 20 million unregistered firearms are held in addition
to 7.2 million legal ones, or France, where as many as 17 million
illegal guns overshadow 2.8 million legal ones.
If you bother to learn from history, it shouldn’t be a surprise
that people stop caring whether they’re “not a law-abiding citizen”
when they lose respect for the law and the people who inflict it on
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/connecticut-shouldnt-be-surprised-that-f