Saturday, November 16, 2013

Newtown Votes with Its Pistol Permits

Applications for pistol permits in Newtown are up 110 percent in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, according to Connecticut State Police who issue the permits.

It would be an error to suppose that the increase has been driven solely by restrictive gun laws written by the General Assembly in response to the mass murders.

After having produced a budget in the absence of any input from Republican leaders in the General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy felt compelled to include Republicans when his signature gun control legislation was in its formative process. Republicans who boisterously supported Mr. Malloy’s gun control bill were put in Coventry once again when Mr. Malloy shaped his second budget. Somewhat in the manner of a mistreated yet faithful wife, Republican leaders have since complained about the unusual abusive treatment.   

No doubt some of the increase in pistol permits, both in Newtown and across the state, may be attributed to a fear on the part of pistol purchasers that bothersome legal restrictions would make the acquisition of pistols more difficult. Democrat and Republican leaders in the General Assembly, who pushed through their legislation without benefit of the long delayed criminal report on the Sandy Hook shootings, argued that their legislation was not unusually restrictive, but rather common sense measures that would make future criminal assaults on schools and other gun free areas in Connecticut less likely. And, in any case, the new regulations are soft on pistols, hard on long rifles, not the weapon of choice among up and coming criminals and gangbangers in the cities.

Connecticut gun owners in the state have brought suit against the Malloy bill, and some gun manufactures in the state, feeling Mr. Malloy’s icy breath on their necks, have pulled up stakes and moved South.

At one point during the unobstructed passage of Mr. Malloy’s gun control measures, the governor said of Connecticut gun manufacturers, “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible—even if they [the purchasers] are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns.” A business arrangement that allowed Connecticut gun manufacturers to vet production mock ups with the state police to assure that the product on the production line met legal specifications was also terminated, a not too gentle reminder to Connecticut gun manufacturers tagged by Mr. Malloy as indifferently selling weapons to the mentally ill were no longer welcomed in “Revolutionary Connecticut,” once known as the “Provision State” for having produced  munitions for George Washington’s beleaguered army during the Revolutionary War.

A similar spike in pistol permits occurred in Connecticut following a murderous assault by two paroled prisoners on a family in Cheshire, in the course of which two women were raped and three victims, a mother and two teen aged daughters, were murdered when the paroled prisoners set a house on fire, presumably to cover their crimes.

That earlier spike in the purchase of defensive weapons was occasioned by what some considered an insufficient response by police. In rural areas in the state, police response time may be considerably diminished.

In addition to the insufficient response time of police when heinous crimes occur in rural areas in the state, the spike in purchases of defense weapons is caused in part by the uncertainty that precedes legislation restricting weapon purchases. If tomorrow the Connecticut’s General Assembly were to convene to consider regulation restricting the purchase of cars, there would be a run on the purchase of cars in Connecticut, and no sensible governor would attribute the spike in purchases to a disposition on the part of car manufacturers to sell their product to mentally ill drivers.

Part of the uncertainty that caused the spike in gun purchases following the Sandy Hook mass murders might have been dispelled by a reasonable release time of the criminal report, which will contain necessary information that should have been used to support the gun legislation produced by a data starved General Assembly.

Mr. Malloy – much,much too late  – has now urged Danbury State Attorney Stephen Sedensky to release the twice delayed criminal report. Mr. Sedensky has attributed the report’s delay to “an ongoing criminal investigation,” though it is unclear at this point that further investigation will lead to an arrest or trial.

When or if Mr. Sedensky’s report is released, Mr. Malloy and General Assembly leaders should insist that the final criminal report contain a sufficient justification for a delay in the release of data that was necessary for the proper construction of laws relating to gun restrictions, the safety of students in Connecticut schools, the mental health provision of the final gun restriction bill and, not incidentally, a just conformity of the final legislation to state and federal constitutional law.

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