Connecticut gun rights activists are using yesterday’s report of a home invasion by an on-line southwest Florida news service to bolster their opposition to the Constitution State’s new gun control law, and today Reason.com is reporting that one police agency is conducting an internal investigation of an officer who said he would like to “bang down your door and come after your gun.”
This conflict is taking on all the earmarks of an approaching reckoning. The National Rifle Association last week discussed at length the confusion created around the new gun control law. It doesn't help when some folks apparently play games on the Internet.
In an e-mail exchange with Examiner this afternoon, Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess said next week will see an effort by Connecticut gun owners to “ramp up the pressure on the legislature.”
Part of that effort may already be underway. On its Facebook page today, Connecticut Carry urges gun owners to write state legislators and tell them “about how you feel about being disarmed in the face of these kinds events.”
Today’s “objective of activism,” according to the group’s Facebook message, is to send those thoughts “to every member of the state legislature,” and to help in that endeavor, the organization has put all of those e-mail addresses into a cut-and-paste format here.
Burgess famously called on the legislature last week to enforce the law or repeal it. In his e-mail, he suggested that, “the state does not have the balls to enforce this law.”
Various news reports and blogs over the past several days estimate anywhere between 50,000 and 350,000 Connecticut citizens have failed to register their so-called “assault weapons,” which could put them in serious legal trouble. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello ruled that Connecticut’s ban on semi-auto rifles, which the Hartford Courant described at the time as “the toughest-in-the-nation,” is legal.
In what seems an odd twist of logic, Judge Covello, referring to the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in the famous Heller case that the Second Amendment protects private ownership of handguns because they are in “common use,” concurred that modern semi-auto sporting rifles are also in common use. A check with Colt’s Firearms could easily confirm that one.
But the judge then said that a ban on such firearms is justified in the state’s efforts to reduce violence, according to the Hartford Courant. Attorneys for the state had argued that modern sport-utility rifles are not in common use, an argument that is demonstrably false. Firearms sales over the past five years suggest strongly that the semi-auto – best exemplified by the AR-15 platform – is the most popular rifle in the country. There are, by some estimates, millions of these guns in circulation. They are regularly used in competition, for hunting, predator control and even home defense.
Examiner recently visited with State Sen. Pam Roach at the legislative shoot near Olympia, firing and zeroing her personally-owned Colt AR-15, which turned out to be a superbly accurate rifle. But if Roach were in Connecticut, her perfectly-legal rifle would be perfectly illegal unless she had registered it, and she would be – due to the mere stroke of a pen and for having committed no act of violence – a “paper criminal.”
The Facebook exchange between Joseph Peterson and Cameron Smith, as published by Reason, shows how heated the debate has become. Peterson reportedly is an officer with the Branford Police Department, which issued a memo Monday that an investigation is under way. The officer was reportedly off duty at the time, not that it matters.
Burgess told this column that, for the moment at least, “everything is fairly quiet here.” That could change in no time, thanks to the speed with which things now spread on the Internet.
If there are upwards of 50,000 to 350,000 lawbreakers in Connecticut because of a signature, firearms owners in that state are likely to descend on the polls in November and throw some people out of office. Meanwhile, they will be fighting in court, and in the “court of public opinion.”
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