"Upgrade" To CT Background Check System Causing Massive Delays

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Many would-be gun buyers in Connecticut have been turned away in recent days; not because they’re prohibited by law from possessing a firearm but because of failures with the state’s supposedly new-and-improved background check system.

According to a report from NBC Connecticut, the upgrade to the background check system has left retailers and customers frustrated at both the lengthy delays in processing background checks and the lack of a response on the part of state officials.

“Paper and pens and scissors to basically put the files together for these firearms transactions for the dealers,” Brian Foley, an assistant to Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella, said.

The Connecticut State Police said the background check system for retailers was shut down for five days to make improvements.

“Obviously we can’t take any chances with firearms and we have to be careful,” Foley said.

“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,” Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said it’s frustrating for retailers.

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

One gun store owner says that he’s repeatedly tried to contact the state police about the issues, but can’t even get someone to pick up the phone. Kyle Overturf says it’s like “winning the lottery” when a background check is actually completed in a timely manner.

“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,” he added.

Keep in mind that under Connecticut law, before anyone can purchase a firearm at a gun shop they must first get pre-approval from police; either in the form of an active concealed carry license or an “eligibility certificate.” When customers walk through the doors of a gun store, in other words, they’ve already gone through one background check, but have to wait for the point-of-sale check to be completed before they can take possession of the firearm.

So far there’s no word on how many people have been impacted by these delays, but it sounds like the vast majority of customers over the past week and a half have been unable to complete their purchase.

The problem began on July 9, when the state shut down its database and background check system for what was supposed to be a long weekend, with plans to launch the new system on Tuesday morning. It took one day longer; the new system was launched on Wednesday.

By late last week, frustrated retailers who could not reach the state appealed to the NSSF, which threatened “to pursue legal options to protect the interests of our members.”

“[W]e are asking you to fix this problem immediately,” the NSSF’s Keane wrote to Rovella. “Given the advances in information technologies, it is difficult to understand why it has taken over a week to upgrade the system.”

Something tells me that if Connecticut’s governor wasn’t such a fan of gun control, he’d be working a little harder to ensure that state agencies weren’t depriving people of the ability to exercise a civil right. Unfortunately, fixing the broken system doesn’t appear to be a priority or Gov. Ned Lamont, and its the law-abiding residents of Connecticut who are paying the price for government apathy.