In the final days left for Connecticut residents to interpret the laws and to make decisions on whether or not to register their firearms as possible ‘Assault Weapons’, Connecticut gun owners are left with conflicting interpretations from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).
The Department of Emergency Services has been tasked with the sole authority to make declaratory rulings and legal interpretations about the statutes within their enforcement domain in the State of Connecticut since a 2009 court case affirmed that duty. On October 11, 2013, DESPP Commissioner Reuben Bradford sent a letter to an Attorney Clough out of Southbury stating in no uncertain terms:
Section 11 of Public Act 13-220 was intended to resolve an ambiguity in Public Act 13-3. The section clarifies that it is the intent of the legislature to exclude assault weapons manufactured before September 13, 1994 from transfer restrictions and registration requirements.
Connecticut Carry, exercising due diligence, also posted and referred people to a conflicting written opinion from our counsel, Attorney Rachel M. Baird of Torrington, Connecticut. Attorney Baird concluded that those ‘Assault Weapons’ that were manufactured before September 13, 1994 were excluded from the ban, unless they were named in the named part of the ban.
Now, with less than 6 days left until the looming registration deadline of January 1st, 2014, the word from certain gun dealers is that certain members of DESPP have privately made statements that DESPP plans to reverse the widely public interpretation by Commissioner Bradford, and now those same sources say DESPP is reversing that reversal.
Connecticut Carry makes education about laws a priority, but cannot offer proper guidance about these laws to try and help keep people out of felony trouble when the head of the DESPP, with his sizable legal team, apparently cannot decipher the statutes that are supposed to be easily interpreted by ‘the common man’. When the Connecticut General Assembly cannot update the official statutes on their website inside of the 8 months given in the law, and DESPP waits until the last minute to start wavering on their own legal interpretations, what chance do the residents of Connecticut have to figure these laws out either?
“With only a few days until the new laws turn law abiding people into felons, it is outrageous that DESPP would consider a flip-flop [about the October 11th decision of Reuben Bradford], particularly during the hectic Christmas season while so many people are away from home.” said Connecticut Carry Director Edward Peruta.
“It is not just outrageous, it should be criminal. They are going to be hurting a lot of people by injecting this level of confusion into the process this late in the game. There is no time left to change our education to the public now.” agreed Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess.
Because citizens of Connecticut are protected from their ignorance of the law when their ignorance is due to the interpretations by state agencies like the DESPP (CGS 53a-6), the Commissioner’s interpretation should stand as the applied and practiced law. Connecticut Carry plans to continue to educate and to assist in the defense of people, especially if the State of Connecticut intends to victimize people who have made their choices based on the Commissioner’s official interpretation.
Commissioner Bradford has the sole responsibility and ability to end this confusion. Connecticut Carry calls on Commissioner Bradford to immediately issue a declaration stating unequivocally that he will stand by his original interpretation and that people are safe to follow it.