CTNJ file photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has concluded it can process without additional legislation some of the late-arriving firearm registration paperwork mailed in by gun owners attempting to comply with a new law.

The decision applies to a small group of gun owners who missed the deadline to mail in paperwork registering or declaring their possession of rifles and ammunition magazines banned by the state under a law passed last year in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.

Luke Bronin, the governor’s general counsel, said the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has the authority to accept applications it has reason to believe were submitted before the deadline.

“For example, if an application to register a weapon was signed and notarized on or before January 1, 2014, or an application to register a high capacity magazine was signed and accompanied by an affidavit that was dated on or before such date, the department may treat such applications as timely submissions,” Bronin wrote in a letter to the DESPP commissioner.

“Similarly, if the department has reason to believe that an application was deposited in a mailbox or at a post office on Dec. 31, 2013, but the post office closed early or did not collect the deposited mail that day, then that application may be deemed a timely submission,” he wrote.

Under the decision, the department will accept certification forms for 160 rifles and 398 magazines which were notarized by Jan. 1 and postmarked by Jan. 4. The state received about 226 assault weapon applications and 506 high-capacity magazine declarations received by the state were postmarked shortly after the deadline.

The department will notify gun owners whose applications were not accepted because they were received after the dates with instructions on ways to dispose of their guns or magazines, Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said in a letter to legislative leaders.

The Malloy administration had been using the day the forms were postmarked as the threshold for processing the paperwork. Last month the governor said state police retained the late paperwork but he insisted the legislature would need to pass a bill in order for them to process the forms. 

However, officials met Tuesday with lawmakers on the Public Safety Committee to discuss what to do with the late-arriving forms. Bronin also consulted with the Attorney General’s Office before deciding the department had the authority to accept some of the late applications, according to a press release.

While it’s far from ideal for most gun owners, the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League praised the decision.

“This is good news for individuals that did their best to comply with the law,” Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said Friday. “Good for these people that will not be forced to surrender their firearms and components to the state.”