Six states are eager to capitalize on last month’s horrific shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. New York’s quick-draw Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the first to craft a gun-control package behind closed doors and ram it into law within a matter of days.
On Monday, Connecticut will have its first public hearing on gun-control plans that are speeding through the legislative process. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents firearms and ammunition manufacturers, put out an alert to urge gun owners and sportsmen to attend the hearing and call their representatives.
“We all share the goal of wanting to make our communities safer, but these gun-control proposals will not do that,” Lawrence Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president and general counsel, told The Washington Times. “We hope the politicians in Hartford would focus on proven and effective solutions to violence — like providing resources to help families address mental health issues and putting more police on the streets — and not impose further burdens on an already heavily regulated industry that will kill badly needed jobs here in Connecticut.”
Mr. Keane refers to the economic impact on Connecticut manufacturers such as Colt, Mossberg, Ruger and Stag Arms.
The proposed law would force gun owners to surrender (or sell out of state) magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds along with any semiautomatic rifle with a single cosmetic feature that would classify it as an “assault weapon.” Failure to comply means the potential for confiscation by state police and a felony charge. All firearms would be registered with the state government. Individuals would only be allowed to purchase a limited amount of ammo with the permission of the state, which would also collect a 50 percent tax on the sale.
In neighboring Massachusetts, a firearms identification card is already required before residents can purchase a firearm. On Jan. 16, Gov. Deval Patrick introduced his proposal to crack down further on gun rights, writing he was doing so “both proactively, and in the wake of too many tragedies.” The Democrat, who is stepping down in January 2015, would make it so that only one firearm can be purchased or rented every 30 days under threat of up to $1,000 in fines and 21/2 years in jail.
Gun owners would have to go through the hassle of renewing their license every two years, and they would also have to maintain liability insurance. Gun-show organizers would have to provide the state with the names and licenses of all dealers attending, who would then be required to submit records of all sales, transfers or rentals. The measure would also require the surrender of all magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Similar proposals are being floated in the legislatures in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland and New Jersey. Fortunately, not all states are jumping on the bandwagon. Mississippi, Vermont, Wyoming and Oklahoma have either rejected the knee-jerk gun-control efforts or adopted even stronger protections for the Second Amendment.
Gun owners should be concerned about the open season being declared across the country on their rights. The coordinated and shameless exploitation of the Connecticut tragedy has nothing to do with making anyone safer. The proposed laws are meant to be annoyances and hurdles to discourage law-abiding Americans from joining the ranks of gun owners.
There has never been a more important time for the nation’s 100 million gun owners to exercise their First Amendment rights to ensure they’ll be able to keep their Second Amendment rights.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.