Conn. gun owners, retailers navigate new gun law

Gun owners and retailers navigate confusion in new Connecticut gun law

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Gun owners and retailers in Connecticut were sorting through confusion Thursday over the implementation of the state's sweeping new gun control law, which bars the sale of more than 100 types of firearms and magazines that hold 10 or more rounds.

A quirk of the law means some firearms bought the same day as the bill's signing aren't eligible for a grandfather provision that allows them to be legally kept in the state.

The law allows existing assault weapons and high capacity magazines if owners obtain a certificate verifying the purchase was made before the day of the law's implementation; that is, by the end of Wednesday.

Guns purchased on Thursday before noon, when the governor signed the bill, were acquired legally but are ineligible to be grandfathered in.

"So if you bought them this morning, it's too late. You had to have bought them yesterday or before," said Michael Lawlor, the governor's criminal justice adviser. It is unclear what would happen to these weapons, and Lawlor did not offer details.

Gun retailers were learning the details of the new law and making plans to adapt their businesses accordingly.

"I'm sure the criminals in Bridgeport today aren't doing the same thing," said Jake McGuigan, director of government relations at the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Residents stocking up on guns and ammunition in the hours before the legislation was signed said the tough restrictions will do little to stop mass killings like the Newtown school shootings.

Customers at Hoffman's Gun Center in Newington said gunmen such as Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six educators, do not obey laws.

"The bad guys are going to get guns," said John Power, 56, of Bristol. "Somebody that sick is still going to be able to do that."

"Go into that room," he said, pointing to the gun store. "There are a lot of good, law-abiding people in there."

Store owner Scott Hoffman said 20 percent of his inventory will be banned by the law.

"All these people will be criminals," he said, waving toward the crowd of customers.

Another question in the law concerns guns placed on order or purchased on layaway.

"That's a legal question we don't know the answer to yet," said Lawlor. "What if you've already paid for it and haven't received it yet? The lawyers are going to have to figure that out."

Another question McGuigan has is whether ranges or sportsmen's clubs will be permitted to give or sell ammunition to their members.

"The legislators who are crafting this have no idea what they're crafting," said McGuigan. "They wrote a 130-page bill without any public hearing and now we're going to see the unintended consequences of this legislation."

Other parts of the new law that take effect over the coming year include a ban on armor-piercing bullets, establishment of a deadly weapon offender registry, expansion of circumstances when a person's mental health history disqualifies them from holding a gun permit, mandatory reporting of voluntary hospital commitments, doubled penalties for gun trafficking and other firearms violations, and $1 million to fund the statewide firearms trafficking task force.

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Associated Press writers Susan Haigh in Hartford and Stephen Singer in Newington contributed to this report.

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