Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy is no friend to gun owners. In 2014, the Governor of the ironically named Constitution State received at least $1.7 million from the anti-gun Independence USA PAC, funded by billionaire plutocrat Michael Bloomberg. It’s not surprising then that he might look for ways to show some ROI for his campaign paymasters.
His most recent effort is to try to balance the Connecticut state government’s yawning $3.6 billion budget deficit on the backs of people who are exercising a natural human right, one singled out for protection in the text of the U.S. Constitution.
As part of his budget, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing to increase the state portion of the pistol permit fee from $70 to $300. He also [wants to increase] the cost of the initial 5-year pistol permit fee from $140 to $370.
The increase in fees for gun owners will bring in another $9 million to the state annually, according to the governor’s budget estimates.
Additionally, Malloy is proposing to increase background check fees from its current $50 to $75.
That increase, the governor’s budget estimates, would bring in another $2.6 million annually to the state’s coffers.
Second Amendment advocates in Connecticut are predictably concerned about this 400% increase in Pistol Permit fees. Scott Wilson, President of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League decried the proposal:
If Connecticut residents are forced to pay exorbitant fees…to purchase and/or carry a firearm for protection, it legitimately ceases to be a right anymore. This…is simply Governor Malloy trying to cover his failed policies on the backs of Connecticut gun owners.
The CCDL is holding a free workshop in Suffield, CT on the evening February 15, to talk about legislative activism. No doubt Governor Malloy’s proposal will feature prominently on the agenda.
The Connecticut matter is certainly a case study of how regulations and fees that seem limited and ‘reasonable’ when first enacted, can later be used to throttle a constitutionally protected civil right. It would have been much harder to suggest enactment of a $300 fee at the time of implementation. No, it was far easier to propose a smaller fee up front, then raise it to an astronomical level later since emotionally, the heavy-lifting was getting the idea of a fee through, not adjusting it later. (Or, as the famous quote attributed to Churchill goes, “We’ve already established what you are, madam; we’re now just haggling over the price.”)
But revenue enhancement is hardly the only goal here. National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke points out another effect of this policy: $300 is the price of an inexpensive pistol. This doubling of the entry cost for (legal) first-time buyers will limit firearms ownership in Connecticut to the wealthy.
If the case for permits is to distinguish between the law-abiding and the criminal, the case for high fees is to distinguish between the rich and the poor…. [A]pplied to a constitutionally enumerated right that has been routinely recognized as such by the Supreme Court? That’s pitchfork time. And to come from the Democratic party, which views itself as being on the side of the poor, and which is institutionally opposed to voter identification laws on the grounds that one should not have to pay or be inconvenienced in order to vote? That’s just too much. (Why isn’t this a “poll tax” or “Jim Crow“? And you can’t answer, “because I choose not to accept that the Second Amendment exists.”)
I understand that Governor Malloy doesn’t like guns. But I also don’t care. The law is the law. He doesn’t get to edit the Bill of Rights.
True, the Democratic Party of my youth might have had at least one or two qualms about this policy. Alas, the party of Roosevelt, Moynihan, and Gephardt is long gone. Democratic leadership now sees the average American worker as a figure of contempt and embarrassment, viewing its most important constituency as a wealthy coastal elite.
The party is more concerned about trade and immigration policies that favor that constituency, along with a heavy dose of raw ethnic identity politics to keep the people at the lowest rung of the economic ladder mollified (or fighting amongst themselves) while they service those interests. The notion of disarming the poor by pricing them out of exercising their rights, therefore, comports quite nicely with that agenda.