Gun laws in Connecticut regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of Connecticut in the United States.
Connecticut, by law, is a May-Issue state, as state statutes contain a suitability clause and a provision for applicants to “show good cause” for the issuance of concealed carry (CCW) permits. However, Connecticut is Shall-Issue both in practice and by Article 1, Section 15 of its Constitution: “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state”, although state and local authorities have some of the broadest powers in the nation to deny, delay issuance of, or revoke a permit.
Connecticut has a two-tiered permitting system: a 60-day Temporary permit issued by the local police chief, and a Regular 5-year permit issued by the Department of Public Safety Special Licensing and Firearms Unit (SLFU). The Temporary permit, issued by local authorities on a May-Issue basis, is a vestige of the pre-1965 CCW permitting system, when Connecticut CCW permits were issued entirely by local authorities. The rewriting of the Connecticut State Constitution in 1965 intended to consolidate authority to issue CCW permits with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety (now the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP))and require permits to be issued on a Shall-Issue basis, but the transition to the uniform statewide permitting system was never fully completed, resulting in the two-tiered permitting system in Connecticut today.
Those desiring a CCW permit in Connecticut must first apply for a temporary permit (valid for 60 days from the date of issuance) from the local police department, or in some locations the town clerk’s office, which conducts the background checks and fingerprinting. Temporary permits are issued on a May-Issue basis, and each town is different in its willingness to approve permits; some towns create their own requirements that go well beyond the State requirements. It is typically much more difficult to obtain temporary CCW permits in larger cities, such as Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. Other towns will automatically issue a permit as long as the individual does not meet any statutory criteria that would disqualify him or her from holding such a permit; one does not have to travel to remote parts of the state to find towns with permissive CCW policies. For example, the city of Shelton, located 12 miles from Bridgeport and 17 miles from New Haven is Shall-Issue in its temporary CCW issuing practice. The town has 8 weeks to approve the temporary permit. If the temporary permit is granted, the applicant must apply to the SLFU for a regular CCW permit (valid for 5 years), which will generally grant the permit unless there is reason specified by law the individual should be denied. These include:
• Criminal possession of a narcotic substance; • Criminally negligent homicide, • Assault in the third degree; • Reckless endangerment in the first degree; • Unlawful restraint in the second degree; • Riot in the first degree; • Stalking in the second degree; • Has not been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense; • Has not been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect; • Is not subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person; • Is not subject to a firearms seizure order issued for posing a risk of personal injury to self or others after a hearing; or • Is not prohibited from possessing a firearm for having been adjudicated as a mentally incompetent under federal law.
An applicant who is denied a temporary CCW permit from local authorities may appeal to the state Board of Firearms Permit Examiners (BFPE), which will generally grant the appeal and issue a Regular 5-year CCW permit, provided the applicant does not meet the statutory criteria prohibiting him or her from holding such permit. Applicants may appeal an unfavorable ruling by the BFPE through the state courts.
Connecticut residents are issued a “permit to carry pistols and revolvers”, which permits both open and concealed carry. Although open carry is not restricted by state law, the BFPE suggests that, “every effort should be made to ensure that no gun is exposed to view or carried in a manner that would tend to alarm people who see it.” Residents with permits who carry openly may be cited by police for breach of peace, although state prosecutors usually dismiss such charges after the defendant appears in court and pays applicable court fees.
Connecticut does not honor CCW permits from any other state, but residents of other states who hold a concealed weapons permit may apply to the Department of Public Safety for a non-resident Connecticut permit through the mail. Nonresident CCW permits are generally granted on a “shall-issue” basis, provided the applicant meets Connecticut’s statutory requirements and completes a weapons safety course that satisfies the state’s training requirement.
Connecticut has bans on defined ‘assault weapons,’ which includes selective fire firearms unless purchased before October 1, 1993, and a limited list of semiautomatic AR, AK, and SKS variants. However, it does not restrict magazine capacity.
Connecticut allows all NFA firearms other than selective fire machine guns, however guns of this type that existed in Connecticut before the ban are grandfathered. Selective fire means that a machine gun can fire semi or fully automatic. Machine guns that can only fire fully automatic are legal in Connecticut.
Connecticut also has a provision in the statute that if a carry permit holder loses a firearm and does not report it, they may lose the permit
Finally, Connecticut statutes contain provision that allow law enforcement officials to pre-emptively seize a person’s firearms without a warrant or court order, when they have probable cause that the person may either be mentally unstable or intends to use the weapons to commit a crime.