Officials in Connecticut say that tens of thousands of gun owners have thumbed their noses at a new state law requiring the registration of firearms deemed to be "assault weapons," The Blaze reported Thursday.
As of Dec. 31, police have received 47,916 applications for “assault weapons certificates” and 21,000 incomplete applications, Lt. Paul Vance told The Courant.
Officials also estimate that just 15 percent of the weapons in Connecticut have been registered.
“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 Courant added.
According to The Blaze, officials in the state and some lawmakers are stunned at what appears to be statewide civil disobedience.
At least 20,000 individuals -- and as many as 100,000 -- are in direct violation of the new state gun control law.
By owning unregistered guns defined as assault weapons, the Courant explained, all of them are committing Class D felonies.
Mike Lawlor, “the state’s top official in criminal justice,” suggested the state firearms unit could “sent them a letter.” An aggressive push to prosecute gun owners in the state is not going to happen at this point, however, he warned, those who violate the law will have to answer to authorities.
"Like anything else, people who violate the law face consequences," he said. "That's their decision. The consequences are pretty clear. . . There's nothing unique about this," Lawlor said. "The goal is to have fewer of these types of weapons in circulation."
He also suggested the legislature reopen the registration period to encourage more gun owners to register their firearms.
"I honestly thought from my own standpoint that the vast majority would register," state Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, said. "If you pass laws that people have no respect for and they don't follow them, then you have a real problem."
Guglielmo, the Courant said, heard from a constituent at a meeting in Ashford, who said most of his friends with military-style rifles have not come forward.
"He made the analogy to prohibition," Guglielmo said. "I said, 'You're talking about civil disobedience, and he said 'Yes.'"
Others, like Scott Wilson, president of the 12,000-member Connecticut Citizens Defense League, say the low registration numbers may be due to ignorance on the part of some gun owners.
"There are a lot of people, they just do not know about this law," he said. "There are people finding out now after the fact."
The new law was passed in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton.
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