Since the first day of this year, thousands of otherwise law-abiding Connecticut residents - at least 20,000 and maybe as many as 100,000 - have become criminals. They have broken a new state law that required owners of military-style rifles and high capacity magazines to register them with the State Police by last Dec. 31.
Some of these rifle owners - there's no way of knowing for sure how many - may not have been aware that the rifles and high capacity magazines they had owned for months or years now have to be registered.
Other gun owners simply missed the deadline, while some are deliberately choosing to disobey the law.
Failure to register the rifle or its high capacity magazines is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A sentence of this magnitude would be unheard of for a first-time offender, but committing a felony is serious and a blot on an otherwise clean record that would not be without consequences.
Since the intent of the law is to create a record and track these weapons, not to make criminals of gun owners, we would urge the administration and the legislature to find some way to provide a bit more time for registration.
No one should take any joy in having 20,000 or 100,000 citizens suddenly becoming criminals. If possible, a way should be be found to allow these gun owners a chance to reconsider and follow the law.
As to those who sincerely believe the requirement is wrong, we respect their beliefs, but that does mean they can disobey this law or any law.
There are several interesting points in this piece. The first and foremost is the numbers of those guilty of non-compliance. 20,000 to 100,000 is a far cry from the exaggerated numbers we've heard from some pro-gun fanatics who want to artificially inflate the civil disobedience aspect of this issue.
Secondly, this reasonable take on the situation fairly points out that not all the "unconvicted felons" are acting out of resistance to the new law.
Also fairly depicted is the fact that the sanctions for non-compliance include "UP TO five years in prison which would be unheard of for first time offenders." That's also quite different from the hysterical and exaggerated nonsense we've been hearing from the fanatics.
And finally, there's a reasonable and fair observation of the state's motivations. "No one should take any joy in having 20,000 or 100,000 citizens suddenly becoming criminals. If possible, a way should be be found to allow these gun owners a chance to reconsider and follow the law."