Furor over Malloy’s plan to jack up pistol permit fees

February 14, 2017 GMT

Connecticut — a cradle of the firearms industry and focal point of the national gun control debate since the 2012 school shooting in Newtown — could soon rival New York City for the highest gun permit fees in the nation.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants to quadruple the fees for the state’s estimated 250,000 permit holders to help close a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit.

But the cash grab by the Democrat, who signed one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws in 2013, is sparking protests from the state’s gun owners and Republican lawmakers.

The proposal’s foes include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based just three miles from where 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Gov. Malloy’s proposal to quadruple the fee for pistol permits is outrageous and unacceptable,” said Mike Bazinet, a NSSF spokesman. “Many pistol permit holders simply do not have the economic means to be able to afford this kind of a cost increase.

“A fee increase of this magnitude will serve as a de facto limitation of law-abiding citizens’ ability to exercise their right to keep and bear arms that is guaranteed both by the U.S. and our state constitutions.”

Malloy spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said the additional revenue is needed to help cover the high volume of firearms permits stemming from the 2013 law.

“To ensure that Connecticut remains competitive, we monitor closely what other neighboring jurisdictions are doing relative to their fee and tax structures,” Donnelly said. “Implementing a fee structure comparable to pistol permitting fees set by the NYPD is projected to raise an additional $9 million for the state.”

In 2013, Connecticut expanded its definition of an illegal assault weapon and banned high-capacity gun magazines. The state also adopted a background-check requirement for the purchase of ammunition.

“There are simply a lot of people that are not going to renew their permits,” said Scott Wilson, president of the 23,000-member Connecticut Citizens Defense League.

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said gun owners are not being singled-out by the governor’s shared sacrifice budget.

“We certainly understand the reasons for it,” he said. “Nobody likes to have increases that directly affect them. I certainly don’t think the firearm permits should be exempt from them.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, panned the increase.

“To go after the person who works hard and pays taxes because you don’t agree with their personal choices that are protected by the Constitution is just plain wrong,” she said.

Meanwhile, the state GOP is offering a two-day pistol permit class in March with a National Rifle Association-certified instructor for $125 per person, which party leaders said is not a fundraiser and has been in the works since December.

“It’s like the right to vote,” said J.R. Romano, the party chairman. “We’re helping to facilitate that. There’s nothing crazy.”

Democrats lambasted the outreach initiative, saying that Republicans are shilling for the National Rifle Association.

“If this is the platform for which Republican leadership and candidates for statewide office are fighting, then we’re ready to have the debate over the Democratic Party standing up for common sense gun violence prevention,” said Michael Mandell, the party’s executive director.

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