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Crisis in Connecticut, confrontation looming?

Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess is in the middle of a firestorm.
Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess is in the middle of a firestorm.
Rich Burgess

A Connecticut gun rights advocacy group, whose president was on Tom Gresham’s nationally-syndicated Gun Talk radio show Sunday, threw down the gauntlet this morning with a press release challenging state lawmakers to either enforce the state’s strict new gun laws or “completely repeal these immoral edicts” by May 7, and he discussed the crisis exclusively via e-mail with this column earlier today.

The controversy may be due to hyper-misunderstanding of the contents of a letter from the state police that was apparently sent to people who tried to register their so-called "assault weapons" as defined by the state's new gun law, but missed the deadline, according to Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess. The situation has resulted in stories like this in the Daily Sheeple.

The story is loaded with irony considering that Connecticut is known as “The Constitution State.” They are even discussing it at three popular internet forums in the Pacific Northwest: Defensive Carry, Northwest Firearms here and here, and Seattle Guns. Defensive Carry evidently got it wrong about the letters, calling them "confiscation letters." The Connecticut Carry press release complained about the "recent media tidal wave based on false reports and bad journalism..."

This morning’s press release comes after a weekend of activity ignited by an article in The New American that suggested a confrontation is brewing over gun registration in the state because of a letter that appears to have been greatly misunderstood. That New American article was inspired at least in part by an on-line column posted at Sipsey Street Irregulars by Mike Vanderboegh, one of two people responsible for uncovering the Operation Fast and Furious scandal more than three years ago.

There has been lots of talk on the internet about gun confiscations allegedly coming in Connecticut, but Burgess told Gresham that there have not been confiscations.

“I would say no,” Burgess said on the air. “As a matter of principle, I think that’s not true. I think a lot of people have gotten this thing very, very confused. The media’s put it out there that there’s confiscation that this is a letter had been sent out to everybody. But when you look at the reality of it, we have not seen any letters sent out to anybody in the state of Connecticut.”

Burgess went back and forth with his explanation of what had actually transpired and what he believes is on the horizon for Connecticut gun owners. He asserted that what was in the letters has been misconstrued. The letters, he said, explained what the law was, effective on April 4 of last year.

“They did not say, ‘We’re going to batter down your door’,” he explained to Gresham. “Now, we’re not saying that the Connecticut State Police won’t do that. We certainly actually believe that they will and possibly are planning to do that. However, there needs to be some kind of reason in the national discourse. Let’s not try to promote a civil war in Connecticut by saying that we are going to, you know, be subject to confiscation right now.”

The New American article noted that the letter contains four options for people in possession of firearms now on the banned list:

1. Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable;
2. Sell the assault weapon to a licensed gun dealer;
3. Remove the assault weapon from the state, or
4. Relinquish the assault weapon to a police department or to the [state’s] Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The letter went out over the name of Lt. Eric Cooke, Commanding Officer, Special Licensing and Firearms Unit. Examiner tried to contact the state police but was advised officials were in meetings and we were then referred to the agency’s website for information on firearms and special licensing.

Burgess noted to Gresham that many people apparently have not registered their so-called “assault weapons” and magazines with the state police, but it is not clear what percentage of these are acts of civil disobedience and how many are due to ignorance of the law. Burgess did say that violations would be classed as felonies.

In an e-mail message to Examiner this morning, Burgess stated, “These letters, as far as anyone in Connecticut can ascertain, never got sent to anyone. The history of the letter is that it was apparently a 'proposed' response to people who sent in their registrations (with sworn affidavits) late. This means that those people were swearing to the state that they were felons per…state law. The letter was released through a (state) legislator's Facebook page back in early January. For some reason, they went viral just last week.

“The major point to understand about the letters,” Burgess continued, “is that they are only stating the law. Those are the 'legal' options for people who failed to meet the registration deadline. Understand that the people who were supposedly to be targeted by these letters were people who had admitted to and made a sworn confession to a felony. When this is considered, the state police are actually being very charitable here. There is no threat of imminent arrest in those letters like the state police usually provide. A sworn confession would be more than enough for them to go door-kicking in any other circumstance like this.

“We are no fans or apologists for the state police here in Connecticut,” he concluded in the e-mail. “However, in this case, sending a letter letting people know that they missed the deadline and giving them their 'legal options' seems to be pretty nice for the state police. Unfortunately, this letter has been termed a 'confiscation letter' and blown up far larger than it should have ever been.”

Last week, Vanderboegh published the names of lawmakers who voted in favor of the April 2013 gun legislation that bans so-called “assault rifles” and original capacity magazines. Spokane Conservative Examiner Joe Newby writes about it here.

Today’s press statement quotes both Burgess and Director Ed Peruta:

“As citizens of Connecticut, we have a right to bear arms. With that right comes responsibility. The responsibility to stand in defense of ourselves and our fellow citizens is paramount.” – Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess

“From Governor Malloy, to Undersecretary Lawlor to DESPP, Commissioner Schriro, and Lieutenant Cooke of the firearms unit, and including Lt. Paul Vance, the state needs to s--t, or get off the pot. The fact is, the state does not have the balls to enforce these laws. The laws would not survive the public outcry and resistance that would occur.” – Connecticut Carry Director Ed Peruta

There has been talk of state police gun confiscations and the Connecticut Carry release was blistering in its criticism of state officials and what appears to the group to have been deafness to the concerns of thousands of gun owners.

“For years,” the release, from Burgess, stated, “Undersecretary Michael Lawlor, the upper levels of the State Police, and Governor Dannel Malloy have sought to disarm those whom they fear. The laws they passed show that they fear constitutionally and lawfully armed citizens. Despite thousands of gun owners showing up at each legislative session expecting to be heard by their ‘representatives,’ government officials seized upon public panic related to the Newtown Massacre, as a means to exert legislative and executive fiats intent upon disarming gun owners who have harmed no one. The Connecticut Executive and Legislative branches showed their cowardice when they installed metal detectors and armed guards at the entrances to the Legislative Office Building (LOB) only for firearms-related hearings.”

This scenario contrasts sharply with the scene in Olympia seven weeks ago when gun prohibitionists and gun rights activists squared off over the dueling initiatives, I-591 and I-594. Many gun owners including some who were visibly armed and others who carried concealed handguns were present and nobody was harmed in any way, though there was some hoplophobia in evidence.

However, what does appear clear is that the firearms community looks at Connecticut as proof positive that gun control proponents are either delusional or flat-out lying when they insist that gun registration will not lead to confiscation or, at least, criminalization of the mere act of owning a certain gun that is banned after millions of citizens buy them and own them without a bit of trouble.

And it fuels the belief that anti-gunners want to ultimately turn all law-abiding gun owners into criminals with the mere stroke of a pen. Whether that stands in The Constitution State remains to be seen, but it appears, at least for the moment, a line has been drawn in the sand that perhaps only a change of the tide can erase.


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