This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 10, 2014:
Connecticut is called the Constitution state for a very good reason. On January 14, 1639 it was the first state to adopt its Fundamental Orders, which explained the necessity for government and the rule of law: to restrain evil and provide a stable basis for society. The anti-gun zealots who have taken over the state don’t seem to care that their blatantly arrogant and unconstitutional laws are threatening that basis. The latest letter to members from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) expresses that point:
The rule of law is in tatters in the “Constitution State”….
Reality is setting in for Connecticut lawmakers and enforcement officials who now must deal with the effects the new law is having on ordinary person who have never been at odds with the law….
Tens of thousands of existing firearms and untold numbers of magazines have not been registered as required [under the new law effective January 1]. In other words, Connecticut’s politicians have created from whole cloth an entirely new class of criminals….
At the time they acquired their firearms they were perfectly lawful. Now, these people have become scapegoats….
What’s at stake is nothing less than the functioning of civilized society. The confrontation was predicted by Mike Vanderboegh back in April last year when he spoke on the capitol steps in Hartford to a large crowd of gun owners:
No one thought the authorities of your state would pass laws making criminals out of the previously law-abiding – but they did.
If they catch you violating their unconstitutional laws, they will … send armed men to work their will … and people – innocent of any crime save the one these tyrants created – will die resisting them.
That was exacerbated by the challenge of one John S. Cinque to elected officials for passing a law that clearly would have done nothing to prevent the horrendous Sandy Hook massacre four months earlier. Said Cinque, whose remarks were captured and put up on YouTube:
So I’m a thirty-year public servant, twenty-year fireman, OK? United States Navy veteran, upstanding citizen all my life with three children, and with the stroke of a pen from the ivory tower – with the gold top – you’ve decided to create me to be a felon, a Class D felon, for doing nothing absolutely wrong?
What are you going to do about those of us who will not comply with the law? I’m not speaking for anyone else here, but I’m telling you right now: I will not comply!
The day after the law became effective, the Connecticut State Police (CSP) returned applications to register the now illegal “assault” weapons and their magazines that arrived past the deadline of December 31 along with a letter – now widely publicized – giving the newly created felons their options, or else.
Vanderboegh sent a lengthy, carefully crafted email to every one of the 1,200 employees of the CSP warning them in no uncertain terms what would happen if they tried to enforce the law. He couched his letter in soft terms, but the message was clear: there will be violent pushback if police start confiscating weapons.
It now appears that upwards of 100,000 of these news felons have failed to apply to register their weapons. Events are accelerating towards a showdown. The latest ruling by a liberal judge that the unconstitutional law is really constitutional after all didn’t help. The attorney appealing that decision said that the judge’s reasoning gave him “plenty to work with” in the appeal.
The NRA is watching the situation in Connecticut with great interest and concern, not only because it is helping support the plaintiffs in that lawsuit – Shew v. Malloy – but because the lack of forthrightness and consistency at the CSP is making them extremely nervous. Here’s more from their letter:
Only last week, multiple reports surfaced of a disturbing letter that had reportedly been sent to Connecticut gun owners who tried to register their firearms but whose paperwork arrived at the Connecticut State Police (“CSP”) after the deadline.
That letter, dated January 2, 2014, and containing the signature of a State Police lieutenant, gave recipients four choices for disposition of their firearms, none of which indicated they would be given a pass for their late submission.
Rumors swirled, as some claimed this was the precursor to a later campaign of outright confiscation, even by those who tried to comply with the registration aspects of the law but failed because of early Post Office closures or mistakes in paperwork.
The Connecticut State Police did nothing helpful to alleviate these concerns. As one rumor after another was reported in breathless media accounts, your NRA was diligently working behind the scenes to learn the truth. Our experience was consistent with other reports that have since emerged, in that answers received from CSP officials seemed to vary with whomever happened to answer the telephone. Some said a letter was being drafted but had not been sent. Others denied the existence of the letter categorically.
Finally, after NRA personnel identified themselves as such and demanded to speak with high-ranking officials, confronted these officials with the CSP’s inconsistent answers, and insisted on knowing the truth, the CSP reversed course and admitted to NRA that the letter was authentic and that it had been sent to a number of individuals whose registration paperwork was received after the deadline.
Nevertheless, the officials insisted it was not a warning of later confiscation but a “public service” to advise gun owners whose registrations were rejected of their options.
Media reports also indicate that the CSP in some cases is willing to grant limited “amnesty” to persons who are believed to have completed the registration requirements prior to the deadline but whose paperwork was received late because of circumstances beyond the registrants’ control.
We find none of this reassuring. Simply put, the rule of law has broken down in Connecticut and the Malloy administration’s and CSP’s credibility on this issue has been severely compromised….
The NRA doesn’t go far enough. The Malloy administration’s credibility has been compromised along with confidence in the rule of law. Here’s how the authors of Connecticut’s Fundamental Orders explained the need for confidence in government and the rule of law back in 1639:
For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth…. (emphases added)
This was a voluntary association of townships that agreed to create a body of law that would guarantee peace between and among them, expressing confidence that a known and predictable body of law would aid in that peace and stability, and enhance future growth of the community. But when zealots take over and start using laws as a hammer to bludgeon citizens into submission, especially when those laws are patently unconstitutional, the unravelling begins.
F. A. Hayek, writing in 1967, said this about the rule of law that seemed eerily directed at those zealots now camping out in Hartford:
The whole conception, however, that law is only what a legislator has willed and that the existence of law presupposes a previous articulation of the will of a legislator is both factually false and cannot even be consistently put into practice.
Law is not only much older than legislation or even an organized state: the whole authority of the legislator and of the state derives from pre-existing conceptions of justice, and no system of articulated law can be applied except with a framework of generally recognized but often unarticulated rules of justice.
The parallel to events on Lexington’s green the morning of April 19, 1775 is unnerving: a single shot, fired by an unknown participant, set the tinder box of discontent afire, leading to the American Revolution. A single shot – fired by a yet unknown participant in Connecticut – could ignite the tinder box that politicians, judges and police have, wittingly or not, built, setting off a tsunami of consequences almost beyond imagining.
It isn’t the gun law. It’s the rule of law. If that rule – more accurately, the confidence in that rule – is questioned, then justice is questioned. Once that is questioned, the unravelling of civilized society begins.
YouTube: I will not comply
The New American: Connecticut Gun Owners Fail to Register; Officials Push “Amnesty”
The New American: Connecticut Gun Confrontation Brewing Over Registration
The New American: Appeal Filed in Court Decision Upholding Connecticut’s Gun Ban