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Pro-Gun Group Upset as Conn. Tries to Automate Registration

Although the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection is working to automate gun registrations, gun advocates have filed another legal complaint about the slowness of registration.

Front of a gun
(TNS) — A gun rights group said Wednesday it is raising a new legal complaint about delays in the state gun registration process even as the state police said the agency is taking long-overdue steps to automate and speed up the registration system.

The ongoing dispute over delays in buying guns and permitting owners is taking place during a year in which law enforcement officers said citizens across society appear to be trying to buy record numbers of guns.

The nonprofit Connecticut Citizens Defense League asked a federal judge on Monday to schedule an emergency hearing on what the group characterized as unnecessary delays in carrying out the process by which new buyers of guns and ammunition are fingerprinted and issued permits. Without permits, buyers cannot make purchases and licensed dealers cannot make sales.

The group sued the state last year ago after Gov. Ned Lamont allowed state and local police to stop fingerprinting applicants for gun permits during the coronavirus pandemic, a requirement for the issuance of permits. A federal judge said gun ownership is a fundamental right and ordered the police to resume fingerprinting. But the gun rights group, claiming that delays are continuing, wants the court to revisit the issue.

Brian Foley, a spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said the agency agrees the permitting process has been beset by unacceptable delays, but is taking steps to increase efficiency. A week ago, he said the agency brought an automated computer permitting system online to replace a process that, for decades, involved registering permit applicants by hand with paper and pen.

The new automated system is being tested by a Hartford-area gun dealer, he said.

Foley said his department also has assigned additional employees to the permitting process and is taking other steps to speed up the process.

The gun group said whatever the state is doing is not enough.

President Holly Sullivan said police departments are again refusing to finger print applicants and that gun dealers are not getting through to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection on telephone calls they are required to make to obtain pre-authorization for gun sales.

Sullivan urged the state to scrap what she called its unworkable permitting system and, as other states such as New York do, use the federal government’s system.

The gun rights group said in a statement that the state computer upgrade has caused the permitting system to collapse and licensed gun dealers, who rely on sales for income, are being effectively shut down.

“It is virtually impossible to purchase a firearm in Connecticut or for a federally licensed dealer to sell one,’” the group said in its statement.

©2021 Hartford Courant. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.