On Friday, Connecticut law enforcement officials requested increased funding to deal with a backlog of paperwork regarding firearm purchases. The paperwork is being generated by the state’s new gun regulations.
According to CT News Junkie, firearm purchases and transfer-of-ownership applications have grown exponentially since the passage of the new gun restrictions.
At a hearing of the Program Review and Investigations Committee, which oversees state police staffing levels, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection officials were questioned by state lawmakers regarding complaints from constituents about waiting periods for gun permits and gun ownership transfers.
Col. Danny Stebbins testified that requests to the state police involving guns have increased dramatically this year. He noted that, in December, police had a backlog of 1,000 transfer applications, but that the number is now up to approximately 62,000.
“We didn’t see this coming,” Stebbins said. “There is no way we could have prepared for that. But that’s the nature of this business.”
Stebbins added that other paperwork backlogs had increased as well for fingerprints for pistol permits and background checks.
“All of these things are behind because we don’t have people to keep up,” he said.
Reuben Bradford, Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner, noted that there are currently 2,720 sets of fingerprints waiting to be processed for pistol permits, and 9,326 applications are waiting to be processed.
Bradford said that “an uptick of purchases of weapons” was the cause of much of the backlog.
Rep. Christie Carpino (R) referred to the backlog as “alarming to everyone in the room.”
“That number is absurd, with all due respect,” Carpino said. “We have an obligation to law-abiding citizens across the state to cure that backlog.”
Bradford responded that his agency has not had an increase in staff to accompany the increase in paperwork due to the gun law. He added that a resolution to the problem will require additional resources.
Bradford’s chief of staff, Steven Spellman, said his department does not believe there are sufficient funds allocated in the budget proposed by the Appropriations Committee for the next two years to cover the costs of the additional responsibilities generated by the new gun law.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection is expected to incur $200,000 to $300,000 in additional costs in 2013 to design and implement systems to comply with new eligibility certificates and background checks. An additional $250,000 is earmarked for new employees beginning in 2014. Part of the latter amount will be offset by a $35 fee for permits.
The cost to the Department of Correction to incarcerate more people under the new gun law is expected to far outweigh the amount of money needed by state police for background checks. The state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis states that the new gun law could cost Connecticut up to $25 million a year in additional prison costs.