Gun store owners, 2A group file motion in federal court after Connecticut all but halts firearms sales

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CONNECTICUT – According to reports, a recent update for Connecticut’s background check system for firearms purchases is causing delays in completing gun sales, resulting in retailers having to turn prospective buyers away and telling them to come back another day.

The problem has become so pervasive that the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) filed a motion in federal court in response to the halted firearm sales to lawful would-be gun owners.

The crux of the issue, according to reports, is a software upgrade related to the background check system firearms retailers use in Connecticut. Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said the upgrade “has caused severe delays”:

“The software upgrade has caused severe delays in most cases and in some instances outright outages for firearm retailers to be able to run the background checks that they need to.”

Oliva added that when these delays result in retailers being unable to complete a transaction, the result is tantamount to denying citizens in the state their Second Amendment right:

“That in essence is denying the citizens of Connecticut from being able to exercise their Second Amendment right.”

Kyle Overturf of Blue Trail Range explained the frustration of calling in to get a background check cleared on a prospective buyer, noting that firearms dealers are lucky to have a single call go through, and a background check completed in a single day of business:

“It’s just calling, calling, calling. You feel like you win the lottery when you get through right now.”

Overturf also bemoaned the times where he has to tell prospective purchasers that they need to come back another day due to the background check issues:

“What’s frustrating for us from our customers view is some people drive an hour and an hour 15 minutes to come here and they’re waiting one, two, three hours and after two hours of us trying to call getting through they’ll have to leave and come back a different day.”

Rob Pizzi is a United States veteran and the founder of Central CT Arms in Portland, Connecticut.  Central CT Arms is known throughout New England as being the go-to store for law enforcement officers, veterans and patriotic Americans. 

Business has been so explosive that he’s building out a massive, state-of-the-art indoor facility right in the heart of Connecticut.

In gun-controlled CT, veteran and gun shop owner promises to let freedom ring: 'We're not backing down'
Rob Pizzi Jr.

Given that Central CT Arms is one of the most popular and high-volume stores in the region, the “glitches” in Connecticut have resulted in hundreds of gun purchases essentially sitting in limbo, waiting for the state to clear the purchases.

“You want to talk about safety?” Pizzi said.  “How about the guy that just had a restraining order put against him and was told he needs to get rid of his guns.  That guy comes in to a gun dealer and says ‘please take my firearms – the state is requiring it’ and we can’t.  How is that public safety?”

“The woman who just came in because she has a stalker.  You’re going to tell her ‘sorry, ma’am, we know your life is in jeopardy… but the state has a glitch’ – seriously?”

 

On July 20th, in response to the prevalent issues regarding the background check system not functioning properly, the CCDL “filed an Emergency Motion for Immediate Status Conference with the Court, seeking to stop the state’s most recent and egregious constitutional violations”, according to a press release the group shared on Facebook.

The press release from the CCDL recounted the previous legal battle they fought regarding the executive order Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued in March of 2020 that shut down fingerprinting which, in turn, made handgun permits impossible to obtain in the state. A judge sided with the CCDL on that matter in June of 2020.

The CCDL is now arguing that the state’s current purchase approval system regarding firearms is “making it virtually impossible for most law-abiding citizens of this state, including numerous CCDL members, to purchase a firearm of any type”:

“The system requires an FFL to call the state by telephone and get verbal authorization to sell a given firearm to a given buyer.

Many Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in Connecticut have long complained about the subjective nature of the system, and that often firearm purchase authorization requests are delayed, denied, or the phone line simply clicks off when the prospective purchaser has an Asian or Hispanic-sounding name.

“Now, the entire system has collapsed due to a so-called “computer upgrade.” It is virtually impossible to purchase a firearm in Connecticut or for a federally licensed dealer to sell one.

Many Connecticut FFLs are forced to employ multiple people to do nothing but dial the telephone, hoping against all hope that during an entire workday, one call might be answered by the state, and that FFL might be able to make a sale.”

“After thousands of calls over the course of an entire day, an FFL may not get through to sell a single firearm!”

This is a developing story.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further details on this ongoing legal matter.

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In other legal matters related to the Second Amendment, we at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on a huge win coming out of a federal court in Virginia related to 18 to 20-year-olds being denied the ability to purchase handguns. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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RICHMOND, VA – On July 12th, a federal appeals court found that federal laws barring the sales of handguns to adults under the age of 21 is unconstitutional, with the court finding said laws run contrary to the Second Amendment.

In a 2-1 decision made by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the court ruled that 18-year-olds have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and cited that federal laws that prohibit licensed firearm dealers from selling handguns to those over 18 but under 21 is equivalent to a “total ban”.

The case was brought before the 4th Circuit to challenge a restriction that came to fruition via the Gun Control Act of 1968, which said restriction barred licensed firearm dealers from selling a handgun to someone under 21 (while still allowing those 18 and older to purchase rifles/long guns).

More specifically, a woman in Virginia, Natalia Marshall, said she wanted to purchase a firearm to protect herself from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

When Marshall was turned down from purchasing a handgun by a licensed firearms dealer because she was 18, she decided to file a suit to challenge that very law.

In the court’s ruling, it was noted that there simply isn’t any sort of legal justification for prohibiting 18 to -20-year-olds from lawfully purchasing and owning a handgun:

“Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights. Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. And the Second Amendment is no different.”

Judge Julius Richardson wrote in the court’s opinion that the country’s “most cherished constitutional rights” become vested no later than the age of 18, adding that during the founding of the country, 18-year-olds were required to serve in the militia and also provide their own firearms.

Judge Richardson also wrote in the court’s opinion that trying to address violent crime where firearms are used cannot come at the expense of the Second Amendment and denying the rights of citizens:

“Despite the weighty interest in reducing crime and violence, we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.”

Judge James A. Wynn Jr., an Obama appointee, wrote in the dissenting opinion that his two colleagues on the bench were giving “the gun lobby a victory in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than fifty years ago.”

When the Gun Control Act of 1968 was crafted, it was done so under the rationale that persons under the age of 21 are more likely to engage in violent crime, as research at the time showed said age demographic to commit violent crimes at a disproportionately high rate.

Yet, the 4th Circuit majority found that “the rights of more than 99% of a group cannot be restricted because a fraction of 1% commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime.”

The July 13th ruling only applies to the five states in the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which those states are Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The ruling could likely face challenges from the Justice Department, which could see the case run all the way up to the Supreme Court.

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In the realm of gun laws, the past few months have been interesting across the country – some states have eased on various gun control laws while others have clamped down even harder.

Earlier in July, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report about new fees associated with gun ownership that have passed in San Jose, California. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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SAN JOSE, CA – With the San Jose City Council recently passing new gun control measures in response to the mass shooting that transpired in the city back in May, firearm owners in the city could see their guns confiscated if they refuse to comply with the city-imposed fee on merely owning a firearm.

Back in June, Law Enforcement Today reported on how San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo advocated for there to be new sorts of gun control implemented in San Jose in response to the mass shooting that occurred earlier this year.

On June 9th, Mayor Liccardo spoke before a crowd that gathered near the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority railyard where the mass shooting occurred on May 26th, where he boasted about measures he’d like the City Council to review and pass:

“With council approval San Jose would become the first city in the United States to require every gun owner to have liability insurance coverage for their firearms, to incentivize safer behavior from gun owners and importantly, to compensate injured victims.

“Second, San Jose would become the first U.S. city to require gun owners to pay a fee to compensate taxpayers for the public cost of responding to gun violence.”

On June 29th, the San Jose City Council had voted to approve both of the measures regarding gun owners being required to carry liability insurance and imposing a yet-to-be-determined gun owner fee.

Following the approval from the City Council, San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata wanted to stress that officers were not going to be going “door to door” to see if individuals are carrying the likes of liability insurance for their firearms:

“During our normal course of duty, if we come across a firearm we will ask the owner if they have insurance. We are not going to go door to door inspecting guns to see if they have insurance.”

Both the liability insurance aspect and the element of the gun ownership fee – which is apparently going to be an annual fee – is causing serious contention and raising questions of legality.

San Jose resident Sasha Sherman told the City Council during a hearing that the last thing gun owners need to bear are more taxes:

“I strongly oppose more taxation on legal gun owners. Each time a gun owner buys ammunition, they pay an 11% tax, plus a background check fee.”

The rationale coming from the City Council’s approval of this annual fee is a means to counteract the costs of responding to gun related incidents such as shootings and homicides.

Another speaker present before the City Council cited that these fees create a constitutional conflict:

“It puts a financial burden on a constitutional right, which is the right to bear arms.”

Mayor Liccardo spoke with reporters about these upcoming gun laws, referring to those who refuse to pay annual gun fees and carry liability insurance as “crooks” who will have their guns seized if law enforcement crosses their path:

“Crooks aren’t going to follow this law. When those crooks are confronted by police and a gun is identified, and if they haven’t paid the fee or insurance, it’s a lawful basis for seizure of that gun.”

What is confusing in all this, specifically for the annual fee, is that it comes into conflict with the Supreme Court 1943 case of Murdock v. Pennsylvania, which notes that: 

“A State may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution.”

Said case related specifically the borough of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, having established an ordinance that required solicitors to purchase a license from the borough if they engaged in door-to-door sales. 

Murdock happened to be a Jehovah’s Witness who would go door-to-door asking for donations in exchange for various books and pamphlets – which the borough determined he was selling those items and needed to obtain a license to do so.

Justice William O. Douglas delivered the opinion of the Court, finding that the ordinance was an unconstitutional tax on the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to freely exercise their religion.

It would be safe to say that this effort in San Jose is going to face some legal challenges which will undoubtedly point right to that Supreme Court decision from nearly 80 years earlier. 

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