If the fee for a pistol carry permit increases to $300 from $70 for five years, new gun owners could be the ones discouraged from purchasing guns.
"Existing gun owners, they'll suck it up and do what they have to do," said Gary Lenk, the gunsmith at Newington Gun Exchange. "It's new customers I'm worried about."
Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed budget included fee increases for background checks, new, and renewed pistol carry permits. The estimated new revenue from the increases is $9 million, according to the Office of Policy and Management.
Gov. Malloy has defended the proposal, saying it would bring Connecticut in line with New York City, that has a fee of $340 for the same permit, though other states like Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire do not have similar gun permit fees.
"We always want to be competitive," Malloy said at an event last week. He also rebuffed any claims that he's the enemy of gun owners.
Lenk, at Newington Gun Exchange, disagrees.
“Governor Malloy, despite his protestations is not a friend to the gun owners in the State of Connecticut, and he has never yet resisted a chance to take a shot at us, so, the budget gives him another excuse to do that.”
For prospective gun buyers, the costs related to purchasing a weapon could be daunting. In addition to the proposed $300 five year permit fee, a resident would have to pay for a background check, a pistol safety course, and a local registration. All in, those fees could exceed $500.
“For some people, that’s a very severe hit," Lenk said. "If you get the elderly that are on fixed incomes and they find themselves in a situation where they’re nervous and they fear for their safety and they want to get something to protect themselves with, that’s a lot of money.”
The governor's proposal hasn't received much vocal support in the General Assembly. One of the chairs of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Cathy Osten said she would look for ways to balance the budget without such a drastic fee increase for gun owners.