The administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday it will accept late registrations of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, but only if public-safety officials have a “reasonable belief” the owners tried to meet the Jan. 1 deadline.
Luke Bronin, the governor’s general counsel, informed the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection after consultation with the attorney general’s office that the state has limited discretion to accept late registrations.
“For example, if an application to register a weapon was signed and notarized on or before January 1, 2014, or an application to register a high capacity magazine was signed and accompanied by an affidavit that was dated on or before such date, the department may treat such applications as timely submissions,” Bronin wrote to Dora B. Schriro, commissioner of emergency services.
“Similarly, if the department has reason to believe that an application was deposited in a mailbox or at a post office on December 31, 2013, but the post office closed early or did not collect the deposited mail that day, then that application may be deemed a timely submission,” Bronin wrote.
Gun-owner groups have complained that many gun owners were unaware of the registration requirement, an element of the gun-control law passed last April in response to the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown.
The bill banned the retail sale of large-capacity magazines and semiautomatic weapons with certain military characteristics, but it allowed owners to keep such weapons and magazines if they were registered by Jan. 1.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection now will accept certificate applications on file for 160 assault weapons and 398 large-capacity magazines, which are defined as holding more than 10 rounds.
“It’s good news for those individuals who took steps to file,” said Scott Wilson, the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. “It’s nice to know they won’t have to surrender their firearms or components to the state.”
About 50,000 weapons have been registered, but that could represent as few as 15 percent of the firearms covered by the law, according to industry estimates recently reported by The Courant.
Wilson, whose group unsuccessfully opposed passage of the law, said he expected that some owners of unregistered guns will move them out of state.
“If they are smart, they are not going to reveal to the public at large that they have them,” he said.