New "Assault Weapon" Bill Update

 

This bill PASSED. No definitive action has been taken by CSP to implement. Possible Court Case under review to be initiated by Sportsmen.

 

Member Question: I heard that a bill passed or is sitting on the governors desk as we speak. That it slipped by NRA and the ctsportsmen org. That all the assault rifle clones have to be registered with the state police by this October. That gun stores have stopped selling them? Is this true?

 
Answer: The bill has been signed and is law. Nothing slipped by NRA or the Coalition - we proposed the solution. So-called Assault Weapons that have "type" following the designation under the 1993 law (MAC, AK-47, Thompson) have to be registered by October 2003 - Does not affect any other firearms. Gun stores have generally stopped selling "types" as of May 8.
 
All this came about because of a court case in Bantam where the State Police on an "Assault Weapon" confiscation issue defined "type" as looking like, functioning like, and having interchangeable parts. The court agreed. Our choices were 1) do nothing and let gunowners be subject to arrest/prosecution/prison, loss of pistol permit if arrested/convicted, and confiscation of their firearms; or 2) take some corrective action: a) through legislation, with no satisfactory solution to this problem except our proposed amendment eliminating "type" from the statute which was rejected by both the anti-gunners and State Police; b) defend someone in court with a possibility of either a win or loss; or c) provide another solution protecting gunowners. 
 
Our solution: Although we do not support Registration in any form, the bill provides that gunowners who bought these "type" guns for the last 9 years are now allowed to keep them. If they register they cannot be prosecuted and will keep their guns; if they don't register, they cannot be prosecuted but will lose their guns.
 
Both NRA and CCS think this is a good interim solution which protects gunowners. The issue will probably be addressed in court at some future date. Nothing has been done by CSP yet, so advise your friends to change or do nothing new. When the procedure is implemented, we'll have it on our website and will send it to our e-mail list. SKS or ANY other type "clone" expansion will not be tolerated by us and is unlikely to be addressed by the CSP. This bill addresses only 3 "type" firearms.
 
What would have been your solution?
 
Make sure you read the bill in total @ our website: www.ctsportsmen.com under Legislation "Other Bills". Thanks for your interest - Don't believe rumors.
 

PASSED -PUBLIC ACT 02-120    (TEXT) - The Governor signed the bill on June 7, 2002.

For the last few weeks we have been negotiating on a possible correction to the 'Assault Weapon" statutes. The reason for this requirement are broadly explained in the "Gunsafe" article below [Bold ours]:

Conn.'s "assault weapons" ban: Confusion over "AK-47" type

Connecticut General Statutes §53-202a contains a list of firearms that are banned as "assault weapons":

Algimec Agmi; Armalite AR-180; Australian Automatic Arms SAP Pistol; Auto-Ordnance Thompson type; Avtomat Kalashnikov AK-47 type; Barrett Light-Fifty model 82A1; Beretta AR-70; Bushmaster Auto Rifle and Auto Pistol; Calico models M-900, M-950 and 100-P; Chartered Industries of Singapore SR-88; Colt AR-15 and Sporter; Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max-1 and Max-2; Encom MK-IV, MP-9 and MP-45; Fabrique Nationale FN/FAL, FN/LAR, or FN/FNC; FAMAS MAS 223; Feather AT-9 and Mini-AT; Federal XC-900 and XC-450; Franchi SPAS-12 and LAW-12; Galil AR and ARM; Goncz High-Tech Carbine and High-Tech Long Pistol; Heckler & Koch HK-91, HK-93, HK-94 and SP-89; Holmes MP-83; MAC-10, MAC-11 and MAC-11 Carbine type; Intratec TEC-9 and Scorpion; Iver Johnson Enforcer model 3000; Ruger Mini-14/5F folding stock model only; Scarab Skorpion; SIG 57 AMT and 500 series; Spectre Auto Carbine and Auto Pistol; Springfield Armory BM59, SAR-48 and G-3; Sterling MK-6 and MK-7; Steyr AUG; Street Sweeper and Striker 12 revolving cylinder shotguns; USAS-12; UZI Carbine, Mini-Carbine and Pistol; Weaver Arms Nighthawk; Wilkinson "Linda" Pistol. [Note: This is the exact language of the statute. We know there is no such thing as an "Algimec Agmi."]

During the past eight years there has been confusion in some circles over the meaning of "AK-47" type. The issue was addressed in a 1995 Connecticut Supreme Court decision, but that decision was ignored recently by the State Police and by a state's attorney who sought to have a Bulgarian SA-43 confiscated from its owner.

There is no doubt that thousands of SA-43s, SAR-1s, and other variations of the AK-47 have been sold in Connecticut since the ban, with all relevant paperwork duly submitted to and recorded by the State Police.  In fact between 1994 and 2001, state troopers repeatedly told gun dealers—at seminars held to instruct dealers on how to comply with state gun laws—that AK-47 variations were legal as long their model designation was something other than AK-47. In other words, if the gun didn't say "AK-47" on the side, it was legal. This policy conformed to the 1995 Supreme Court decision.

This spring, however, the Dept. of Public Safety announced that it will no longer consider sales of AK-47 variations to be legal. This policy change, if taken to its logical conclusion, could lead to confiscation and arrests.

Gunsafe and the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen are pursuing several possible remedies, including litigation and legislation. Each possible remedy has certain potential risks and benefits. Litigation might fail and leave current gun owners exposed to criminal liability, but if litigation were successful, it would be a milestone in assert the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Legislation might have the effect of expanding the "assault weapons" ban and registration system, but legislation could guarantee amnesty for those who now possess AK-47 variations.

This issue is ongoing as of 5/3/02 and may be resolved by 5/8/02, the end of the current legislative session.

*******

The impetus behind the Sate Police changing their policy was a court case in which they testified - extracts below:
 
CROI-0104412S             STATE OF CONNECTICUT  HALDEN BOSWELL
BEF0RE: THE HONORABLE SALVATORE C. AGATI, JUDGE
SUPERIOR COURT, JUDICIAL DISTRICT, BANTAM, CONNECTICUT,  JANUARY 25, 2002
APPEARANCES:
REPRESENTING THE STATE: ATTORNEY ANDREW WITTSTEIN
REPRESENTING THE DEFENDANT: PRO SE [For Himself]
 

Testimony by Sgt. Osika Special License & Firearms Unit, CT State Police.

 

Q    Is it your opinion that this weapon Defendant's (sic) Exhibit 1, is in fact an AK-47 type?

A    Yes, it is.

Q    And would you tell us the criteria on which you’ve made that conclusion?

A    We use basically threefold criteria. One, the physical appearance of the weapon in comparison to the other types. Two would be the functionality of the firearm, the receiver especially.

Q    How it works you mean?

A    Yeah, the functional operation of the receiver. Is it operating on the same principle and the same design as the AK-47? And third factor would be the interchangeability of parts on the various weapons.

….

A     One is a select-fire. One is a semiautomatic. But if you look at the innerts of the receiver, they're practically identical.

Q    Now, with regard to interchangeability of parts, earlier today did you do some interchanging of parts between these two weapons?

A    Yes. What I did was I removed the receiver cover on both firearms. I then removed the spring and the lever which secures the bolt. I physically extracted the bolt from this firearm, placed it into this firearm, and did the same in a reverse order.

Q    So you reversed the bolts and receivers?

A.   Yes.

Q    And the bolts and receivers are the main two parts?

A    Yes.

Q    The heart and lungs, if you will, of any firearm?

A    If you would.

Q    And they were interchangeable?

A    Yes, they functioned.

THE COURT: Both use the same clip?

THE WITNESS: Yes, they do.

Q   They all  take the same caliber cartridge?

A   These do, yes, seven point six, two.

Q   And they all have the same interchangeable clips?

A   Yes, they do.

Q   And they all interchange parts with the original Russian made AK-47?

A   Yes, based upon the comparison I conducted.

Q   And are there more type AK-47 clones than the ones you've shown?

A   There are any number. They were manufactured by -- it began in Russia. They were manufactured by any number of countries. It's hard to say exactly how many there are.

....

The defendant was not charged with possession of an illegal firearm, but the firearm was declared contraband and forfeited. Shortly thereafter, indications were the CSP would begin enforcing the interpretation and would send a letter to dealers to cease selling the guns. No letter has yet been issued.  

**** 

CCS was then faced with a decision. Should we pursue litigation or legislation. Each has certain potential risks and benefits. "Litigation might fail and leave current gun owners exposed to criminal liability, but if litigation were successful, it would be a milestone in assert the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Legislation might have the effect of expanding the "assault weapons" ban and registration system, but legislation could guarantee amnesty for those who now possess AK-47 variations."

 

We thought the best option was legislation and proposed SIMPLE substitute language to solve the problem. Our amendment removed the word "type" from the current statute and eliminated the true definition of Assault Weapon [ selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic or burst fire at the option of the user] from the statute placing it under the Machinegun statute where it belongs. Additionally we wanted the doubling of penalties for Carry without a Permit eliminated.

 

Rep. Lawlor flatly rejected the elimination of type for several reasons. It would weaken the statute and continue to allow sales of firearms of which he was and continues to be opposed. He was not adverse to providing some relief to those who thought they were legally purchasing these firearms. He also agreed that the penalty increase for illegal carry was excessive and has an amendment to eliminate http://www.cga.state.ct.us/2002/lcoamd/2002LCO04198-R00-AMD.htm

 

We then developed an affirmative defense section "that the defendant (1) in good faith purchased or otherwise obtained title to such specified assault weapon on or after October 1, 1993, and prior to May 8, 2002". Essentially what this amendment does is provide an affirmative defense to penalties in two cases 1) if the gun was purchased during the period and the CSP notified (registration) there will probably be no prosecution; 2) if the gun is not registered during the period indicated there will still be no prosecution for illegal possession, but the gun will be declared contraband and surrendered.

 

Under all circumstances owners must notify the Department of Public Safety prior to October 1, 2003. The notification requirements are: (1) A copy of the proof of purchase for such specified assault weapon, and (2) one of the following: (A) A copy of state form DPS-3 with respect to such specified assault weapon, (B) a copy of federal ATF Form 4473 with respect to such specified assault weapon, or (C) a sworn affidavit from such person. For those who don't have the requisite proof of purchase, they can satisfy the requirement not later than January 1, 2003, providing such information as the department may require on a form prescribed by the department together with a sworn affidavit. 

 

Note that this amendment ONLY affects the firearms that have "Type" following their designation.

 

As proof that a person has complied with the notice requirement and such notice has been received by the Department of Public Safety, the department shall issue a certificate of possession for such specified assault weapon. Such certificate shall contain a description of the firearm that identifies it uniquely, including all identification marks, and the full name, address and date of birth of the owner. [Note that  eliminated are the previous requirements for fingerprints and thumbprint on the certificate. Hopefully it will be simple].

 

Section 6 of the Amendment is a correction dealing with "firearms" which the State Police felt was needed.

 

Pluses: 1) All "type" guns bought during the period are able to be retained by gunowners with an affirmative defense to prosecution and confiscation. 2) Some relief, affirmative defense, even for those who don't notify (register). 3) No expansion of the original AW bill. 4) Simpler notification form. 5) Long period for notification (Jan 1, 03/ October 1, 03). 5) Elimination of increased penalties for Carry without a Permit.

Minuses: 1) No elimination of "type". 2) Must notify (register) "type" guns purchased during the period . 3) No elimination of true Assault Weapon definition.

 

The bill is at: http://www.cga.state.ct.us/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05692

 
The Amendment is at: http://www.cga.state.ct.us/2002/lcoamd/2002LCO04726-R00-AMD.htm


The bill/amendment will probably be debated in the House on Monday May 6.  Read carefully before sending comments, please.

***

04/17/02 REF. BY HOUSE TO COMMITTEE ON PS  

This is the last gun bill active and will probably die in Public Safety Committee. We are however negotiating on this bill to get essential issues corrected and it may survive if there is a compromise. If negotiated amendments are made to this bill in PS, the bill will become a high priority and WILL be addressed by the legislature when the new file is written. More to follow when/if the negotiations are completed.

 

Member Question: If we oppose this last remaining proposed gun bill, Raised Bill 5692, AN ACT CONCERNING FIREARMS AND FAMILY VIOLENCE, wouldn't that be counter productive for us since we probably would be discouraging legislators to concentrate on people who break the law with firearms instead of cracking down on us who are the law-abiding gun owners??? Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what this bill focuses on right? The criminals?

 

Response: We have initiated many increased/mandatory penalties over the years, particularly during the late 80s early 90s. The bottom line is they don't work. Judges don't like being told what to do (suspension/reduction of penalties). Additionally, this law could seriously impact on legitimate gunowners. You've got to read both sections 29-35 & 29-37 together. Be paranoid! Would you want someone locked up for 5 years for failing to lock a gun box? Failing to have a handgun wrapped/in a box at point of sale? Or have cops jailed for 5 years for carrying a handgun outside their jurisdiction while NOT "engaged in the  pursuit of official duties" without a state permit to carry? Bottom line: Until the legislature decides to correct obvious deficiencies and /or enforce current law, there can be NO
legitimate support for increased penalties. This bill also has other problems. Finally, if you believe this bill is to enhance law enforcement abilities/improve public safety - think again. The bill is a vehicle for any and all inane ideas as amendments from the anti-gun groups which they failed to get through committee. I AM paranoid. On the positive side - It's also a vehicle for us. CCS will OPPOSE the bill as written. If it makes it out of Public Safety Committee to which it must be referred, we'll have the 4 bills that PS did not JF (including Reciprocity which has substantial support) as amendments along with a number of others.

****

This is the last remaining gun bill still active. It was JFS (substitute below) reported to the floor on 3/25. From there it will be referred to Public Safety Committee. It has three major changes: Changes the time frame for return of firearms from 48 hours to seven days; Causes changes to police protocol; Increases fines/sentences dramatically (Sec. 29-35 Carrying of pistol or revolver without permit prohibited). We will OPPOSE this increase in penalties see http://prdbasis.cga.state.ct.us/2001/pub/Titles.htm as excessive. Make sure you check the other statutes referenced which will be changed/repealed - there's problems there also. Your comments are encouraged - sometimes we miss something.

 

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline.]

 

General Assembly, February Session, 2002,  LCO No. 2349, Referred to Committee on Judiciary, Introduced by: (JUD)

 

Raised Bill 5692, AN ACT CONCERNING FIREARMS AND FAMILY VIOLENCE.

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

 

Section 1. Subsection (a) of section 46b-38b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2002):

 

(a) Whenever a peace officer determines upon speedy information that a family violence crime, as defined in subdivision (3) of section 46b-38a, except a family violence crime involving a dating relationship, has been committed within such officer's jurisdiction, such officer shall arrest the person or persons suspected of its commission and charge such person or persons with the appropriate crime. The decision to arrest and charge shall not (1) be dependent on the specific consent of the victim, (2) consider the relationship of the parties, or (3) be based solely on a request by the victim. Whenever a peace officer [makes an arrest under this subsection] determines that a family violence crime has been committed such officer may seize any firearm at the location where the crime is alleged to have been committed that is in the possession of any [such] person arrested for the commission of such crime or suspected of its commission or that is in plain view. Not later than [forty-eight hours] seven days after any such seizure enforcement agency shall return such firearm in its original condition to the rightful owner thereof unless such person is ineligible to possess such firearm or unless otherwise ordered by the court.

 

Sec. 2. Section 29-36n of the general statutes, as amended by section 14 of public act 01-130, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2002):

 

(a) The Commissioner of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Chief State's Attorney and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, shall develop a protocol to ensure that persons who become ineligible to possess a pistol or revolver have, in accordance with section 29-36k, transferred such pistol or revolver to a person eligible to possess such pistol or revolver or have delivered or surrendered such pistol or revolver to said commissioner.

 

(b) The Commissioner of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Chief State's Attorney and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, shall update the protocol developed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to reflect the provisions of [this act] public act 01-130 and shall include in such protocol specific instructions for the transfer of pistols and revolvers when the assistance of more than one law enforcement agency is necessary to effect the requirements of section 29-36k.

 

Sec. 3. Subsection (b) of section 29-37 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2002):

 

(b) Any person violating any provision of subsection (a) of section 29-35, as amended, may be fined not more than [one] ten thousand dollars and shall be imprisoned not less than one year nor more than [five] ten years, and, in the absence of any mitigating circumstances as determined by the court, [one year] five years of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court. The court shall specifically state the mitigating circumstances, or the absence thereof, in writing for the record. Any pistol or revolver found in the possession of any person in violation of any provision of subsection (a) of section 29-35, as amended, shall be forfeited.

This act shall take effect as follows: October 1, 2002

 

Statement of Purpose: To authorize a police officer who determines that a family violence crime has been committed to seize any firearms that are possessed by any person involved in the crime or that are in plain view, to require the protocol on the transfer or surrender of handguns developed by the Commissioner of Public Safety to include specific instructions for such transfer when the assistance of more than one law enforcement agency is required and to increase the penalty for carrying a handgun without a permit.