A new Connecticut gun law is being ignored by thousands of residents in defiance of the stricter requirements.
A deadline was set for December 31, 2013 for residents to register all military-style rifles in the new law.
However, state police received only 47,916 completed applications for assault weapons certificates.
That figure could be as little as 15 percent of the rifles that are classified as assault weapons owned by Connecticut residents, reported the Hartford Courant.
Definitive figures aren’t available, but even the most conservative estimates peg the number of unregistered assault rifles well above 50,000. Some estimates reach as high as 350,000.
The gun owners who aren’t registering the guns, whether out of ignorance or defiance, are committing Class D felony.
“I honestly thought from my own standpoint that the vast majority would register,” said Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, the ranking GOP senator on the legislature’s public safety committee. “If you pass laws that people have no respect for and they don’t follow them, then you have a real problem.”
Mike Lawlor, the state’s top criminal justice official, said that officials will be looking into sending letters to residents who underwent background checks to buy military-style rifles in the past and didn’t register for certificates.
One constituent told Guglielmo that most of his friends who military-style rifles have not come forward.
“He made the analogy to prohibition,” Guglielmo said. “I said, ‘You’re talking about civil disobedience, and he said ‘Yes.’ “
Others believe some of the people who didn’t register just don’t know about the law.
Guglielmo voted against the broad gun control bill and says that he will raise concern about it at the next public safety committee meeting.
Lawlor said that Gov Daniel Malloy’s administration is willing to discuss solutions, but said that the fact thousands are failing to register doesn’t mean that the law is failing.
“Like anything else, people who violate the law face consequences. … that’s their decision. The consequences are pretty clear. …There’s nothing unique about this,” Lawlor said. “The goal is to have fewer of these types of weapons in circulation.”
The main motivation for the law was the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
It included adding semi-automatic firearms to the classification of assault weapons.
Error: A previous version of this article misidentified the gun in the picture. It is a .22 caliber rifle found in the home of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook gunman.