Location:
WEAPONS - GUN CONTROL;

OLR Research Report


April 12, 2010

 

2010-R-0156

GUN PERMITS

By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst

You asked for (1) a description of the gun permit process for in-state versus out-of-state residents and (2) data on gun permits issued and revoked over the last five years.

SUMMARY

With minor exceptions, anyone carrying a handgun in Connecticut must have a Connecticut gun permit. State residents must first apply to the local police chief (or other local official, where applicable) who investigates them and issues a 60-day permit as a prerequisite for the required five-year, renewable state permit issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Out-of-state residents must apply directly to the DPS commissioner for a five-year permit. Unlike in-state applicants, they do not have to appear in person to obtain the permit but must meet the same criteria as state residents and also have a valid gun permit or license from another U.S. jurisdiction. Applicants denied permits may appeal to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners.

For the five-year period January 2005 through December 2009, DPS issued 44,912 new permits (in-state and out-of-state), an average of 8,982 per year. It revoked 4,904 permits (in-state and out-of-state), an average of 981 per year. The top four reasons cited by DPS for permit revocation were that the applicant (1) was under a protection order, (2) was determined unsuitable to possess firearms, (3) had a criminal charge pending against him or her, and (4) was under a restraining order.

From November 2002 through January 2010, DPS received 4,252 out-of-state applications. It approved 4,118 of the applications it processed and denied 62. It has revoked one out-of-state permit. (Seventy-one applications are pending.)

PERMIT REQUIREMENT

With minor exceptions, a person must get a permit to carry a handgun anywhere in Connecticut, except in one's home or business. Carrying a handgun without a permit is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $1,000, with a one-year mandatory minimum sentence in the absence of mitigating circumstances (CGS 29-37(b)).

The law exempts Connecticut parole and peace officers; other states' parole or peace officers on official business; federal marshals and law enforcement officers; U. S. Armed Forces members on, or going to or from, duty; and a military organization's members on parade or going to or from a place of assembly. It also exempts anyone carrying a handgun (1) in its original package from the point of purchase to his or her home or business place, (2) as merchandise, (3) for repair or when moving household goods, (4) to or from a testing range at a firearm permit-issuing authority's request, and (5) to a competition or exhibit under an out-of-state permit (CGS 29-35).

PERMIT APPLICATION PROCESS

Process for In-State Applicants

For Connecticut residents, getting a gun permit is a two-step process involving both local officials and the State Police, the DPS division that processes gun permits. They must follow procedures and meet deadlines specified in law (CGS 29-28a et seq.).

Applicants must complete and submit a DPS form to the police chief (or borough warden or first selectman, where applicable) who issues a temporary 60-day permit. They must provide information about themselves and their criminal record, if any, and submit to fingerprinting for a national criminal history records check.

The local official must find that the applicant (1) is suitable to get a permit, (2) is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms, (3) wants the handgun for lawful purposes, and (4) meets other criteria in law (CGS 29-28). When the official issues the permit, he or she must inform DPS, which must determine whether to issue the five-year permit. DPS must inform applicants, in writing, if their application has been approved or denied. If the permit is approved, the applicant must collect it at a location DPS designates.

The commissioner may not issue a permit to anyone denied a temporary permit or who does not meet the law's eligibility criteria for a permit (CGS 29-28(b)).

Out-of-State Applications

Out-of-state residents wanting a gun permit must apply directly to the commissioner for a nonresident five-year permit (CGS 29-28(f)). They must (1) provide the commissioner with the same information required of in-state applicants for a temporary permit, (2) meet the same criteria as in-state applicants, and (3) have a valid gun permit or license from another U.S. jurisdiction. But, unlike in-state applicants, they do not have to appear before the permit-issuing authority.

People Who Cannot Get Gun Permits

The following people cannot get a gun permit under state law—illegal aliens, anyone the permit-issuing authority determines is unsuitable or wants to get the guns for an unlawful purpose, and anyone:

1. discharged from custody in the preceding 20 years after a finding of not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect,

2. confined by the probate court to a mental hospital in the 12 months preceding an application,

3. convicted of a serious juvenile offense,

4. subject to a firearm seizure order issued after notice and a hearing,

5. prohibited under federal law from possessing or shipping firearms because he or she was adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution (unless the Treasury Department grants relief),

6. under a protective or restraining order for using or threatening to use force, or

7. convicted of a felony or specified misdemeanors (CGS 29-28, 29-36f, and 53a-217c).

Disqualifying misdemeanors are:

1. criminally negligent homicide (excluding deaths caused by motor vehicles) (CGS 53a-58),

2. 3rd degree assault (CGS 53a-61),

3. 3rd degree assault of a blind, elderly, pregnant, or mentally retarded person (CGS 53a-61a),

4. 2nd degree threatening (CGS 53a-62),

5. 1st degree reckless endangerment (CGS 53a-63),

6. 2nd degree unlawful restraint (CGS 53a-96),

7. 1st degree riot (CGS 53a-175),

8. 2nd degree riot (CGS 53a-176),

9. inciting to riot (CGS 53a-178),

10. 2nd degree stalking (CGS 53a-181d), and

11. first offense involving possession of (a) controlled or hallucinogenic substances (other than a narcotic substance or marijuana) or (b) less than four ounces of a cannabis-type substance (CGS 21a-279(c)).

NEW IN-STATE AND OUT-OF-STATE GUN PERMITS ISSUED

For the five-year period 2005 through 2009, DPS issued 44,912 new gun permits (in-state and out-of-state), averaging 8,982 per year. In 2009, the department issued almost three times as many new permits (16,283) as it did in 2005, when it issued 5,508.

Table 1: Number of New Gun Permits Issued by Year,

2005-2009

Calendar

Year

Number of New Permits Issued

2005

5,508

2006

5,988

2007

7,091

2008

10,042

2009

16,283

Total

44,912

Source: State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit

PERMIT REVOCATION

DPS may revoke a permit on the same grounds listed above on which it may deny a permit. Table 2 shows the total number of permits revoked by year for the five-year period, 2005-2009. Table 3 shows the reasons for revocation. In many cases, a permit is revoked for more than one reason (e.g., the person is under a protection order and the police finds him or her unsuitable to possess firearms). Hence, the reasons cited for revocation are usually more than the number of permits actually revoked.

Since 2005, DPS has revoked 4,904 permits, an average of almost 1,000 per year. In 2001, it revoked the most, 1,021 permits.

Table 2: Number of Gun Permits Revoked by Year,

2005-2009

Calendar

Year

Number of Permits Revoked

2005

940

2006

1,004

2007

984

2008

955

2009

1,021

Total

4,904

Source: State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit

In every year since 2005, the four most commonly cited reasons for revoking a permit were that the applicant (1) was under a protection order, (2) was deemed unsuitable to possess firearms, (3) had a criminal charge pending against him or her, and (4) was under a restraining order. Other reasons for revocation (not shown here) included threatening, driving while intoxicated with a gun, misdemeanor or felony conviction, and leaving a gun unsecure.

Table 3: Reasons for Permit Revocation

(2005-2009)

Year

Protection Order

Unsuitability

Pending Criminal Charge

Restraining Order

2005

432

232

221

178

2006

445

247

231

185

2007

513

223

221

155

2008

473

193

182

163

2009

535

185

150

172

 

2,398

1,080

1,005

853

Source: State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit

OUT-OF-STATE GUN PERMIT APPLICATIONS

Table 4 shows DPS received 4,252 of out-of-state applications (including two from Canada) between November 30, 2002 and January 2010. It approved 4,118 of the applications it processed and denied 62. (Seventy-one applications are pending.) To date, DPS has revoked one out-of-state permit.

The states accounting for the majority of applications are New York (2,069), Massachusetts (888), Rhode Island (238), New Jersey (163), and Florida (141). These five states accounted for more than 80% of all applications.

Table 4: Permit Applications, Approvals, Revocations, and Denials by State (November 30, 2002 Through January 2010)

State

Applications

Approvals

Revocations

Denials

Alabama

7

6

0

1

Alaska

2

2

0

0

Arizona

28

27

0

1

Arkansas

5

5

0

0

California

57

54

0

1

Canada

2

0

0

2

Colorado

16

15

0

1

Connecticut

1

0

0

1

Delaware

7

7

0

0

DC

1

1

0

0

Florida

141

133

1

4

Georgia

20

19

0

1

Hawaii

5

5

0

0

Idaho

2

2

0

0

Illinois

18

18

0

0

Indiana

3

2

0

1

Iowa

1

1

0

0

Kansas

0

0

0

0

Kentucky

5

5

0

0

Louisiana

2

2

0

0

Maine

39

39

0

0

Maryland

26

26

0

0

Massachusetts

888

866

0

10

Michigan

13

13

0

0

Minnesota

20

20

0

0

Mississippi

0

0

0

0

Missouri

9

7

0

2

Montana

0

0

0

0

Nebraska

0

0

0

0

Nevada

19

19

0

0

New Hampshire

95

93

0

2

New Jersey

163

157

0

1

New Mexico

2

2

0

0

New York

2,069

2,002

0

25

North Carolina

23

20

0

2

North Dakota

2

2

0

0

Ohio

29

29

0

0

Oklahoma

3

3

0

0

Oregon

9

9

0

0

Pennsylvania

78

75

0

2

Puerto Rico

1

1

0

0

Rhode Island

238

234

0

3

South Carolina

21

20

0

0

South Dakota

0

0

0

0

Tennessee

13

12

0

1

Texas

46

45

0

0

Utah

4

4

0

0

Vermont

14

14

0

0

Virginia

66

64

0

1

Washington

17

17

0

0

West Virginia

12

11

0

0

Wisconsin

8

8

0

0

Wyoming

2

2

0

0

Total

4,252

4,118

1

62

Source: State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit

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