JOSEPH W. KAMINSKY JR.
COMMISSIONER OF EMERGENCY SERVICES AND PUBLIC PROTECTION ET AL.
December 3, 2018
for a declaratory judgment to determine whether certain
firearms were improperly seized and withheld from the
plaintiff, and for other relief, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the
court, Bright, J.; judgment for the named defendant,
from which the plaintiff appealed to this court.
M. Baird, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Belforti, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the
brief, were George Jepsen, former attorney general, and
Stephen R. Sarnoski, assistant attorney general, for the
appellee (named defendant Commissioner).
Sheldon, Keller and Moll, Js.
plaintiff, Joseph W. Kaminsky, Jr., appeals from the trial
court's judgment, rendered after a trial without a jury,
denying his request for a declaratory judgment holding that
certain firearms were improperly seized and withheld from him
by the defendant, the Commissioner of Emergency Services and
Public Protection,  and thus that he is entitled to the return
of those firearms. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the
trial court erred in denying his request on the basis of its
misinterpretation of the applicable statutory provisions. We
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
following procedural history and facts, as found by the trial
court, are relevant to our disposition of this appeal. The
plaintiff has been a collector and dealer of firearms
licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
since 1988. While reviewing the plaintiff's application
to renew his federal firearms license in 2011, the ATF
discovered that he had a felony conviction in 1964 and,
therefore, that he was ineligible to have such a license or
to possess any firearms. The ATF contacted the Connecticut
State Police to alert them that the plaintiff was likely in
illegal possession of firearms. In December, 2011, after
being notified by state and local police that he was
ineligible to possess any firearms, the plaintiff surrendered
fifty-nine firearms to authorities. Three of those firearms,
a B-West Arms AK-47-type rifle (AK-47), a Group Industries
Uzi submachine gun (Uzi), and a SWD Cobray-11 submachine gun
(M-11), are at issue in this appeal.
firearms in question were all manufactured, and thereafter
acquired by the plaintiff, prior to September 13, 1994. The
plaintiff properly registered the Uzi and the M-11 as machine
guns under both state and federal law, but he neglected to
register the AK-47 as a machine gun. The plaintiff also never
obtained a certificate of possession or registered the three
firearms as assault weapons as required by Connecticut law.
The Uzi and the M-11 each have a
‘‘selective-fire'' mode that allows them
to be fired in either automatic or semiautomatic mode, and
the AK-47 firearm is explicitly listed under General Statutes
§ 53-202a as an assault weapon.
August 6, 2014, the plaintiff brought an action pursuant to
General Statutes § 52-291 seeking a declaratory ruling
that the three firearms at issue had been improperly seized
and withheld from him and that he was entitled to their
return. The sole basis for the defendant's refusal to
return the three firearms was that they were never properly
registered as assault weapons pursuant to Connecticut
During the two day trial beginning on August 23, 2016, the
plaintiff argued, in relevant part, that because the three
firearms in question were manufactured prior to September 13,
1994, they are exempt from any registration requirement under
General Statutes § 53-202m. The defendant disagreed,
arguing that the plain language of § 53-202m exempts
only specific categories of assault weapons from the
registration requirement and that the plaintiff's
firearms did not qualify for such exemptions, thereby making
their possession without registration illegal and subjecting
them to seizure and destruction as contraband. The court
agreed with the defendant and, thus, ruled that the plaintiff
was not entitled to the declaratory relief he requested. This
plaintiff claims on appeal that the trial court erred in its
interpretation of § 53-202m by finding that only certain
assault weapons manufactured prior to September 13, 1994, are
exempt from registration thereunder. The plaintiff argues
that No. 13-220 of the 2013 Public Acts (P.A. 13-220), as
codified in the current revision of § 53-202m, is
ambiguous because it refers to and incorporates by reference
certain preexisting statutory provisions that were no longer
in force and effect when the statute was enacted. Therefore,
the plaintiff urges us to consider extratextual evidence in
the form of an October 11, 2013 letter from Reuben Bradford,
the former Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public
Protection, declaring that it was the intent of the
legislature in passing § 11 of P.A. 13-220 to exclude
all assault weapons manufactured before September 13, 1994,
from the statute's transfer restrictions and registration
requirements. We disagree with the plaintiff's
interpretation of the applicable statutory provisions.
interpretation presents a question of law for the court. . .
. Our review is, therefore, plenary.'' (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) Russo Roofing, Inc. v.
Rottman, 86 Conn.App. 767, 775, 863 A.2d 713 (2005).
‘‘When construing a statute, [o]ur fundamental
objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent
intent of the legislature. . . . In other words, we seek to
determine, in a reasoned manner, the meaning of the statutory
language as applied to the facts of [the] case, including the
question of whether the language actually does apply. . . .
In seeking to determine that meaning, General Statutes §
1-2z directs us first to consider the text of the statute
itself and its relationship to other statutes. If, after
examining such text and considering such relationship, the
meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not
yield absurd or unworkable results, extratextual evidence of
the meaning of the statute shall not be considered. . . . The
test to determine ambiguity is whether the statute, when read
in context, is susceptible to more than one reasonable
interpretation.'' Dept. of Public Safety v.
Freedom of Information Commission, 298 Conn. 703,
720, 6 A.3d 763 (2010).
begin our analysis by setting forth the relevant statutory
language. General Statutes § 53-202c criminalizes the
possession of an assault weapon unless otherwise permitted by
General Statutes §§ 53-202a through 53-202k and
53-202o. ‘‘[A]ny property, the possession of
which is prohibited by any provision of the ...