Connecticut legislator proposes ex post facto law for gun magazine capacity limit

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the Constitution is clear concerning ex post facto laws, but that won’t stop the anti-gun left in Connecticut from making possession of high-capacity gun magazines – previously completely legal to buy and own – a felony unless you turn in the ones you own within 90 days.

Let’s look at the legal portion of this law and eventually we’ll get to the stupidity. As noted, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 specifically makes ex post facto laws – literally, after the fact – unconstitutional. You can not punish conduct that was lawful prior to the legislation becoming law. In the past, conduct – or in this case ownership of an item – that is made illegal in the future would be “grandfathered in.” In other words, if you owned it pre-ban, you could continue to posses and use the item.

From the clause…

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

The United States Supreme Court considered what the definition of ex post facto was in Calder v Bull (3 US 386) – interestingly a case concerning the Connecticut legislature – in 1798. The opinion included the following definition which is relevant here.

Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action.

Do the loony legislators who have sent S.B. 1094 to the Joint Committee on Judiciary think that by giving owners 90 days to turn in their banned goods, they are not proposing an ex post facto law?

The proposed legislation – a follow up to H.B. 6078 written by a legislator with worse than 1st Grade writing skills –  reads as follows.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) (a) As used in this section, “large capacity magazine” means any detachable ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition, but does not include: (1) A feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds, (2) a .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device, or (3) a tubular magazine that is contained in a lever-action firearm.

(b) Any person who possesses a large capacity magazine shall be guilty of a class D felony.

(c) Any person who (1) prior to the effective date of this section, lawfully possessed a large capacity magazine, and (2) not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, removes such magazine from this state or surrenders such magazine to an organized local police department or the Department of Public Safety for destruction, shall not be subject to prosecution for a violation of subsection (b) of this section.

(d) The provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not apply to the possession of a large capacity magazine by:

(1) Members or employees of organized local police departments, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Correction or the military or naval forces of this state or of the United States for use in the discharge of their official duties;

(2) A person, corporation or other entity that manufactures large capacity magazines for persons specified in subdivision (1) of this subsection or for export in accordance with federal regulations;

(3) Any person engaged in the business of selling or transferring large capacity magazines in accordance with state and federal regulations who possesses such magazines solely for the purpose of such sale or transfer; or

(4) A gunsmith who possesses such large capacity magazine for the purpose of maintenance, repair or modification.

The Stupidity

This legislation is a feel good move that will do nothing. They have no facts what-so-ever that passing this legislation will reduce gun crime. None. Zero. Nada.

Again, I need to ask you to write to the Connecticut Joint Committee on Judiciary and let them know this is an unconstitutional law that will do nothing at all to stop those with criminal intent from using high-capacity magazines. All it does is take ownership rights away from law-abiding citizens simply because a few people think this legislation will make them safer.

While your writing, ask them to consider reciprocity with states who have residents with pistol permits.

Read my previous posts and send these links to every Connecticut state legislator you know. Send this post and these other via e-mail to friends and family.

From my previous post concerning the absurd assumptions by the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus after the Tuscon shooting.

How Marcus determines the 10 round magazine limit was the “most useful” part of the federal ban we’ll never know since she provides absolutely no evidence the limit worked. As a matter of fact, one well-known horrific tragedy, the Columbine High School shooting that killed 12 and wounded 26, occurred in April of 1999, at the middle of the ban period. The tragedy still happened. Both standard capacity and high capacity magazines (10, 28, 32 and 52 round mags) were used at Columbine.

The shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre (post-ban) who killed 32 and injured at least 18 more, used two weapons. One was a Glock 19 – the same as used in Tuscon – with standard capacity magazines. There is not much information on the subject, but some reports indicate he had as many as 17, 10 or 15 round magazines for the Glock. Virginia State Police confirmed they were not 17, 19 or 33 round magazines – those of which have been defined as dangerous by Marcus.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Dimsdale on March 2, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Making up laws as they go, and stepping on the Constitution at the same time.


    When do they qualify as anarchists?

  2. PatRiot on March 2, 2011 at 6:54 am

    We can talk about limits on firearms – MAYBE- when the number of innocent people killed by illegal guns match: 

    1.  The number of abortions.

    2.  The number of innocent people killed by drunk drivers.

    When people feel the need to have that kind of capacity to protect themselves, then government has failed to miminize the crime, minimize the drugs and enforce existing law.

  3. vortexofcatania on March 2, 2011 at 8:04 am

    the power is with the people.  if a leader is to made decisions you do not approve of, and will not back down, threaten to replace them.  there is rarely anything a political leader fears more than the people demanding their replacement.  it is quite often the reason they make the decisions they do, to keep the "powerful" content so they themselves do not lose their job.  make good use of that power, my friends.

  4. Wayne SW on March 3, 2011 at 5:40 am

    If I need 11 rounds, then 10 is not enough.  If I need 26 rounds, then 25 is not enough.  Limiting me will put my ability to defend myself at a disadvantage.  For certain, if I ever need to to defend myself, for sure, those being aggressive towards me, my family or my property will not adhere to any laws and have that advantage on me, a legal gun owner and other legal gun owners.  This law will limit my ability to defend myself or make me a felon if I do not surrender my arms.

  5. jmanatee on March 3, 2011 at 6:52 am

    This is a ridiculous law, to think that an a criminal will turn in a magazine because it is over a capacity limit is crazy.

    This law would only punish law abiding citizens and put another limit on the right to self protection.

    If you could show me where a law abiding, legal to carry, individual has ever used a "high capacity magazine" for an illegal purposes I would be surprised.

  6. PatRiot on March 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

    If We apply this principle to Toyota Corollas the following would happen: 

    Because it is the most stolen vehicle ever, then the law abiding citizens would have to turn in their Corollas. 

    It has the same result – the law abiding citizen suffers and the REAL problem- the criminal element – is never dealt with.

  7. Steve M on March 3, 2011 at 10:01 am

    @PatRiot: I can do better. "High-flow" toilets are destroying our planet. Therefore, ban them and give everybody 90 days to turn them in for destruction. You'll have to install new low-flow units of course and we'll end up stinking like San Fran., but we'll save the planet.

    Sponsored by the local plumbers and pipe fitters union …  😉

  8. Dimsdale on March 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Just so long as we don't have to microstamp our names on any of the "flushed items"…..   😉


    Methinks San Fran would always have some sort of stench about it, if not from low flow toilets, then unwashed hippies.


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