2A Group Challenges CT Background Check Delays In Court

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The botched “upgrade” of Connecticut’s background check system that’s left most gun sales stuck on hold for more than a week is now being challenged in court. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League filed an emergency motion on Wednesday asking for an immediate conference in a lawsuit that was first filed last year over Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s decision to suspend fingerprinting services, which are required before anyone can purchase a firearm for the first time in the state.

Lamont’s edict deprived thousands of residents from lawfully purchasing a firearm, but after a federal judge declared that the governor’s order deprived people of their Second Amendment rights, the order was rescinded. CCDL President Holly Sullivan was hopeful that would be the end of attempts by the state to delay and deny residents their right to keep and bear arms, but after the supposed upgrade to the state police’s background check system, things are as bad as they were when Lamont’s order was in effect.

Fingerprinting resumed for a time, according to Sullivan, but “Now, in open violation of that court order, the state has once again shut down the fingerprinting system in Connecticut.” A recent computer upgrade by the state has made it “virtually impossible to purchase a firearm in Connecticut or for a federally licensed dealer to sell one,” Sullivan said.

The websites and social media pages of local police departments began to advise residents that fingerprinting was unavailable due to technical problems last week. The problems began July 9, when the state shut down its database and background check system with plans to launch the new system on July 13. The Special Licensing and Firearms Unit system was restored one day later.

 

In a letter to [Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James] Rovella delivered last week, Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for government and public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation wrote: “Connecticut retailer members are extremely frustrated by the lack of adequate coordination and planning and wholly inadequate roll-out of the ‘upgraded’ system producing extended outages.”

From what the NSSF and others have reported, it sounds like the vast majority of gun sales at the moment are experiencing lengthy delays. Gun store owners can’t promise customers when they’ll hear back from the state, so many purchasers are forced to return to the store hours or even days later once the state gives the green light.

Clearly this “upgrade” should’ve been in beta testing a little longer, because the roll-out hasn’t just proved to be a public relations disaster, but a civil rights infringement as well. Crime is soaring in Connecticut right now, with homicides in Hartford running about twice as high in 2021 than last year.

“It’s a busy year and we’re all dealing with it,” Lt. Aaron Boisvert with Hartford Police said.

It’s just halfway through the year and the city of Hartford is already seeing homicide numbers for the totality of 2020 and is on track to double that number.

“You have to find these shooters who are carrying those guns that have shot before and are willing to shoot again,” Commissioner James Rovella from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection said.

You do that, Commissioner. But you also have a responsibility to ensure that citizens can protect themselves. If people are unable to lawfully purchase a firearm because of screw ups in your agency and you’re not busting your ass to fix the problem then you’re being derelict in your duty to the public.

Of course my opinion carries no weight here. Let’s see what U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer has to say. In his decision last year, Meyer declared that Lamont’s executive order violated the Constitution because, “one cannot exercise the right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense if one is prevented from acquiring a handgun in the first place.”

Well, here we are again. One is in the same situation they were in last year, thanks to the actions of the governor and his public safety director. One hopes that the judge is done playing nice with these public officials, and is ready to demand that if Connecticut can’t fix its broken background check system, then it use the federal NICS system so that one’s Second Amendment rights aren’t nullified by the failures of state government or the anti-gun ideology of its leaders.

Dec 02, 2021 7:30 PM ET