One of the more under discussed topics in the gun control debate is the real burden onerous laws and restrictions put on the taxpayer.
It’s common sense, but the more barriers there are to purchasing a gun, the more hoops a prospective gun purchaser has to jump through, the more expensive it becomes for the state to regulate the transfer of firearms.
Simply put, gun control costs money.
A perfect example is Connecticut, which recently passed some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, including bans on so-called ‘military-style assault weapons’ with one cosmetic feature (barrel shroud, pistol grip, telescoping stock, etc.) and a ban on standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammo.
Both bans are not retroactive, meaning gun owners do not have to sell off, destroy or turn over to the government their lawfully owned magazines and modern sporting rifles, however, they do have to register both with the state.
Additionally measures ratified include a universal background check bill that requires background checks on all private transfers; the creation of a “dangerous weapon offender registry,’ which will require any individual who is convicted of any one of the more than 40 weapons violations to register with the state, and the establishment of state-issued eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition, which includes safety training.
So, bottom line, there’s a lot of paperwork, fingerprinting, administrative stuff that needs to be done and, as pointed out by the CT Post, all this work falls to an arguably understaffed and overworked agency: the Connecticut State Police.
From the CT Post:
State police are seeking 39 additional workers — at a cost of $2.6 million — to handle an avalanche of new duties brought on by gun laws passed after the Newtown school massacre.
The request for additional personnel comes at a time when most state agencies are seeing no staff increases and are generally making do with less.
Taxpayers would cover most of the $1.9 million in wages and $700,000 in fringe benefits needed to pay civilian employees to process paperwork for background checks, gun registries and permits established under the nation’s toughest gun legislation.
The positions include office assistants, processing technicians, analysts and identification technicians, according to a list provided by the state Office of Policy and Management.
“It’s a substantial amount of work that needs to be entered into the system,” Lt. J. Paul Vance, the state police spokesman, told the CT Post. “There is a lot of work.”
Indeed, to give one a better understanding of the work that lies ahead, the state police had 1,000 gun transactions to log into its system last year. That number has skyrocketed to 62,000. With respect to fingerprinting for pistol permit applications and other gun-related ID cards, the police have a backlog of about 4,800 fingerprint cards. With the current personnel, the staff can only process about 250 per day.
However with state dollars hard to come by these days given Connecticut’s budgetary woes, lawmakers estimate that the state police can get by with less than what it requested.
“Right now the range is the 11 positions the Legislature recommended and the 39 state police say are necessary,” Mike Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice at the Office of Policy and Management, told the CT Post. “It will be some number between 11 and 39 positions.”
Lawlor also said there were ways to update websites and data systems so that registering weapons because more streamlined and gun owners are not “unduly delayed or standing in long lines at a state police office.”
“Our goal is to make this as smooth and quick as possible,” Lawlor said. “There are ways to do this that are more effective.”
In its initial estimate, the Office of Fiscal Analysis projected that the new gun control bill would cost up to $17 million through the 2015 fiscal year, including more than $4 million for state police — someone’s going to have to pick up the tab…
It goes without saying, but one way to raise more tax dollars for gun control is to shovel the expense on law-abiding gun owners. In part, this was already done with the guns and ammo ‘eligibility certificates,’ which charge gun owners a $35 fee. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if, in the future, that fee was raised to $50 or $75 or $100.