This article will explore existing statutes which cover the sale and use of guns, using the laws of the state of Connecticut as examples of current law in effect.
People purchasing firearms in Connecticut must have valid proof of residence in the United States, submit an affidavit attesting to the completion of a safety training course, provide fingerprints and mental health records and pay the requisite registration fee.
There would appear to be good control over the purchase and sale of firearms;
however, this control should be subject to a rigorous audit and review on a
continuous basis. The continuing monitoring of compliance under this law is unclear.
Persons buying handguns in Connecticut either from a dealer or private party must complete a DPS-3 form. This form lists the purchaser and seller data. There are 4 copys generated. The buyer and seller keep a copy, one goes to the Department of Public Safety and one goes to the police authority where the purchaser lives. Second hand sales of rifles and shotguns between non-dealers have no paperwork involved. This is an area of the law which can be strengthened.
Whole classes of people are barred from acquiring firearms. For instance, people convicted of illegal possession of controlled substances are barred under Conn. 21a-279(c). There are other numerous disqualifying criteria, such as people convicted of criminally negligent homicide, assault in the third degree, riot in the first degree and stalking. The only remaining question is how the state monitors this portion of the law for continuing compliance.
In 1999, the legislature in Connecticut passed a law that requires retail stores selling firearms to provide minimum training to the employees. The training and certification requirements are set forth in Public Act 99-212 (Section 6): C.G.S. 29-37f.
Law enforcement and military personnel are allowed to possess an assault weapon for official duties. People who move to Connecticut with an assault weapon must either render the weapon inoperable, sell it to an out-of-state dealer or relinquish the weapon to local law enforcement. Continued possession of an assault weapon can lead to a felony arrest. The requirement to render the weapon inoperable could be a potential loophole in the law which should be closed.
Generally, people convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence involving the use of physical force or a weapon are barred from possession of a firearm in Connecticut as are people under the age of 21. Again, monitoring this provision of the law for compliance is a continuing challenge.
The only practical way to monitor for compliance issues is to compare database
gun registries to criminal records maintained by police and the statewide court
systems. This is a considerable task which will require more sophisticated computer software, as well as audit and funding by local, state and federal governments. The same type of audit verification must be performed between the gun database registries and applicable mental health databases.
In addition, the periodic gun license renewals should require gun owners to
declare by affidavit the classes of guns owned currently, as well as the number of people in the household and those who are under the age of 21. Gun owners should disclose what precautions they have taken to restrict access to their guns.
The states could consider linking the Department of Motor Vehicles licensing
procedure with the gun license so that police could be aware of a gun owner’s
status at the time cars are stopped routinely. This simple control could provide an important check point to limit gun crimes involving the use of an auto.
The control over guns is an issue which requires continuing vigilance by law
enforcement, state gun licensing agencies and federal authorities. Another
potential control would be to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance,
as is done with automobiles. The involvement of an insurer would provide a very significant review procedure on an ongoing basis. In addition, discounts could be provided for attending continuing education for gun owners in the same way motorists receive discounts for periodically attending classes.