Watch What They Do

Watch What They Do


In Defense of Gun Rights III
One in a series.

“Watch what we do, not what we say”.

Those were words spoken by John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s Attorney General, in 1969. For many, that pretty much summed up the political climate of the times.

In many ways it’s an appropriate comment about today’s gun prohibition movement. After the terrible incident at Sandy Hook in Dec of 2012, there was an epidemic of anti-gun bills proposed in the CT legislature. These proposals were touted as a much needed response in promoting “gun safety”. Many focused on “high capacity” magazines, and further restrictions on so called “assault weapons”.

The resulting bill, SB 1160 which became PA 13-3 was an overly complicated mess. Passed under Emergency Certification, with no public hearings, and only brief debate on the floor, it’s hardly a wonder that no one really knew what was in it, except perhaps, those who wrote it. Many of the provisions made little sense from a public safety standpoint. Some feel that this was  intentional; that making life miserable for gun owners was the whole point of it all; to frighten them to getting rid of their guns.

I’d like to focus, for the moment, on the section dealing with semiautomatic pistols. The original 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was directed at pistols which were cosmetically similar to sub-machine guns, listing many by name, as well as listing a host of “evil” features, of which any permitted gun could have no more than one. In general, the original goal of getting these types of “military style” guns out of circulation, was accomplished. For various reasons, they just aren’t that common anymore.

With the passing of PA 13-3, the 2013 AWB, semiautomatic pistols with detachable magazines were not allowed to have any of the so-called evil features. This had the unintended consequence of prohibiting the sale, and requiring the registration, of many guns which were not even remotely military look-alikes. Pistols with threaded barrels were caught in the net. Modern target pistols, whose magazine wells are located in front of the trigger guard, for better balance, were now also designated as “Assault Weapons”. Most of these guns are 22 rimfire. A sensible person might ask: Why are these guns now being classified as Assault Weapons?  An unintended consequence?……  Frankly, I doubt it.

When the inevitable corrections bill was drawn up (PA 13-220) the powers that be, got wind of the fact that they had  inadvertently(?) banned “Olympic Target Pistols”, which had the potential to be a public relations embarrassment. This apparently was not acceptable and needed to be addressed. What is enlightening is how it was done. They will tell you that they made target pistols exempt, but they didn’t really. That would have been the sensible way to deal with it, to the extent that “sensible” has anything to do with it. They could have simply removed target pistols, from the AW list.

No. Their solution was to make these “evil and deadly” target pistols transferrable, provided that they were “designed expressly for use in target shooting events at the Olympic games sponsored by the International Olympic Committee” bla bla bla……, and happen to make it on the DPS Commissioner’s list of approved Olympic handguns.

So, this is the current situation. What is arguably one of the most benign classes of handguns, target pistols, most of them in 22 rimfire, are still defined as “Assault Weapons”, still need to be registered, and are still subject to strict transportation requirements. However, if your gun is on the Commissioner’s approved list, at least you can transfer it, provided the buyer signs a form indicating that the pistol will be used “primarily for target shooting practice and events”.(*) A violation of the Assault Weapons provisions, can subject you to Class D felony charges, with the possibility serious jail time…..; for a target pistol…..

This, my friends, is just another example of the CT legislature’s idea of “reasonable gun laws”;  one where they had two chances to get it right. I wonder, does any observant gun owner still think they’re not out to get us?   “Watch what they do, not what they say.”


SB 1160:  Remember in November.          7/14    (see question 18)

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Watch What They Do; In Defense of Gun Rights -III  (Word .DOC)