OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1166

An Act Concerning the State Permit to Carry Pistols or Revolvers and State Compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System

SUMMARY: This bill eliminates the local handgun carrying permit. Current local permits cannot be renewed after October 1, 1999. It requires anyone wanting to carry a handgun to get a Department of Public Safety (DPS) state permit. It requires the person to apply for the state permit to the same local official that now issues local permits, instead of directly to DPS. The official may issue a temporary state permit after investigating the applicant. Nonresidents must apply directly to DPS. DPS may issue the state permit to the holder of a temporary permit. It is not clear what investigatory role, if any, the bill gives DPS. The bill generally subjects the permits to the same issue standards as current permits.

The bill requires law enforcement authorities to confiscate any permit a person illegally possesses and forward it immediately to the commissioner, who may revoke it at the authority's request or after his own investigation.

The bill also increases the state handgun permit fee from $35 to $70, plus enough money for a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) national criminal history records check on the applicant. It gives $35 of the fee to DPS and $35 to the local official, the same amount they now get for the permits they issue.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 1999

FURTHER EXPLANATION

Handgun Carrying Permits

Under current law, anyone wanting to carry a handgun must first get a local permit from his police chief or, if there is none, the first selectman or warden to carry the gun in the town. If he wants to carry the gun elsewhere in the state, he must then get a state permit directly from DPS. As long as his state permit is valid, he does not have to renew the local permit. To get any permit, he must meet eligibility criteria.

The bill eliminates the local permit. It requires anyone wanting to carry handguns to get a state permit. Beginning October 1, 1999, local permits (which are valid for five years) will not be renewed, and anyone with only a local permit who wants to continue to carry a handgun must apply for a state permit.

Applications and Temporary Permits. The bill requires that a resident applicant for a state permit apply to the same local official who now issues local permits, instead of directly to DPS. The official may issue him a temporary state permit to carry handguns statewide. The temporary permit is valid for 60 days from its effective date and is not renewable. The DPS commissioner may grant a state permit to a temporary permit holder. If grounds for denying a permit becomes known after a temporary permit is issued, the commissioner may institute revocation proceedings.

Permit-Issuing Criteria. Current law requires the pertinent local or state permit-issuing authority to investigate a permit applicant's suitability, and it requires the local official to find that an applicant for a local permit is suitable and wants the gun for lawful purposes. Further, an issuing authority cannot issue a permit to an applicant not meeting statutory criteria (See BACKGROUND). And he cannot issue a permit to anyone he has reason to believe is a convicted felon.

The bill requires the local official to investigate the applicant for the new state permit and find that he wants the gun for lawful purposes and is suitable. But it does not explicitly require the commissioner to investigate an applicant's suitability and it is not clear what investigatory role, if any, he has.

The bill continues to prohibit issuing the five-year state permit to an applicant not meeting statutory criteria. It is not clear if this ban applies to the temporary permit (see COMMENT). It requires the local official to deny the temporary permit if he has reason to believe the applicant is a convicted felon or would be prohibited from obtaining a permit under state or federal law. (Federal law does not require permits for carrying handguns.) But, eliminates the ban on the commissioner issuing a permit if he has reason to believe that an applicant is a convicted felon.

Procedures. An applicant for the new state permit must provide the local official with the same information now required on permit applications. As under current law, the local official must investigate the applicant's suitability, take his fingerprints, and within five days of doing so, forward them to the FBI for a national criminal history records check. The bill makes the law conform to practice by requiring that he send the fingerprints to DPS, which forwards them to the FBI.

The bill gives the local official the same eight weeks to approve or deny a temporary permit that current law gives issuing authorities to act on local permits. As under current law, he must issue or deny an application within one week after receiving the FBI report, and if he does not receive the report in the eight weeks, he must inform the applicant in writing. The bill also gives him the same discretion to issue the temporary permit before receiving the report that he now has to issue a local permit.

When the local official issues the temporary permit, he must forward the original application to the commissioner. He must also forward a copy showing if he denied or approved the permit request. The bill does not indicate specifically what the commissioner must do after receiving the information from the local official. But when he issues the permit, he must keep a copy for himself, and send copies to the local official and applicant as under current law. As under current law, the permit must be laminated and contain a full-face photograph of the permittee. The bill does not set any time frame for the commissioner to issue the five-year permit.

Out-of-State Applicants. The bill requires an out-of-state U.S. resident with a permit or license from his home state to carry handguns to apply directly to the commissioner for a state permit. Under current law, a person applies to the local official for a local permit. The bill subjects these applications to the provisions governing resident applications. It appears that DPS acts as the local official with regard to these applications, in which case DPS, must conduct the investigations and issue the temporary permits.

Permit Fees

Under current law, the fee for both the local permit and state permits is $35. The bill increases the state permit fee to $70, plus enough money for a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) national criminal history records check. (The fee for the FBI check is currently $24.) It gives $35 of the fee to DPS and $35 to local officials. In the case of nonresidents, who must apply directly to DPS, it appears that the entire fee will go to DPS. The local authority must forward the fingerprints and sufficient funds for the national criminal history records check to the commissioner no later than five days after receiving the application.

Under current law, the permit fee is refundable if a permit is not issued or renewed. The bill makes any portion of the fee that was used for the national background check nonrefundable.

BACKGROUND

People Who Cannot Get a Permit to Carry Handguns Under State Law

To get a handgun permit, a person must be at least age 21. By law, he must have completed a DPS-approved handgun safety and use course.

A person cannot get a handgun permit if he has been convicted of a felony, a serious juvenile offense, or any of the following misdemeanors:

The ban also applies to anyone (1) found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect for 20 years after release from custody; (2) confined by a court order to a psychiatric hospital in the past 12 months; (3) who is under a restraining or protective order, issued after notice and hearing opportunity, for using, threatening, or attempting to use force against someone; or (4) who is an illegal alien.

COMMENT

Ambiguous Terms

It is not clear whether the term "state permit" as used in section 1 of the bill refers to the temporary permits, the state permit, or both. As a result, among other things, it is not clear if the criteria for issuing a five-year permit apply to the temporary permit.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Safety Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference

Yea

22

Nay

0

Finance, Revenue and Bonding