Stratford and Impact of Supreme Court Concealed Weapon Decision

Sources: Milwaukee Independent, CT Patch, Government Archives, Merriam Webster Dictionary, Attorney General William Tong, Stratford Police Department

Connecticut’s gun laws won’t be immediately impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen on June 23rd, where, the Supreme Court has announced that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right.

The core argument of the decision is that gun rights are to be treated the same as other hallowed rights like the freedom of speech or freedom of religion recognized in the First Amendment.

While acknowledging the decision “could undermine” Connecticut’s gun laws, Attorney General William Tong said that his office is ready to fight to keep some of the strongest gun laws in the nation.  “We are not going back in Connecticut,” Tong said. “We will stand up and fight, and if this … decision leads to an attack on Connecticut’s gun laws, we will be the firewall, and we will do everything we can to protect Connecticut families and children, particularly kids in school, from harm’s way.”

“This decision is a radical rewrite of the Court’s prior positions on the Second Amendment and states’ rights to pass common sense gun safety legislation. We should expect a wave of new lawsuits nationwide and here in Connecticut, coordinated by gun groups like the NRA, challenging our assault weapons ban, age restrictions on gun ownership, prohibitions on guns in sensitive locations like schools, and provisions enabling public safety professionals to review the suitability of an applicant before granting a gun permit. This decision is reckless, and the consequences for public safety nationwide are dire, but it was not unexpected. We have been working closely with advocates, legislators, and other attorneys general nationwide and are ready to aggressively defend Connecticut’s laws,” said Attorney General Tong.

Attorney General Tong joined the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in this case.

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen strikes down a law that requires anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense in New York to show a specific need for doing so.

The State of New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home.  An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” The court ruled that the New York law violates a person’s Second Amendment right to bear arms

States that do not honor any other state’s concealed carry permits are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana (does not honor from Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

In order to obtain a gun permit in Stratford a person must apply to the Stratford police department, where they are fingerprinted and a background check is conducted.  If the applicant passes the application after processing is sent to state.  The state does their investigation.  If the application is denied at their level then a permit is not issues.

Stratford is able to issue a temporary permit and to renew permits.  Permits expire every 5 years.

If denied they may appeal to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, which could take up to three years for that board to hear your case.

Connecticut does not distinguish between carrying a gun openly or concealed. A person with a gun permit in Connecticut is allowed to carry a gun in public. So far this year, the state police have issued 12,124 new permits and renewed 27,395, according to state police officials.

Stratford stats for pistol permit applications for the year 2021 and current for 2022 are:

2021 there were 542 applicants for permits.

2022 there have been 274 pistol permit applications as of June 30th.

Summary of Connecticut Gun Laws

Connecticut is a may-issue state, meaning that local law enforcement has discretion in determining whether or not to issue a permit to carry a handgun to an applicant based on a “suitability clause”. The suitability clause applies both to the issuance of new permits and revocation of existing permits. There is a two-step process to obtain a permit. First, an applicant must apply for a temporary permit from the local authorities and then they must submit another application at the state level through the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).

In order to purchase a handgun, a buyer must have a Connecticut Pistol Permit (CTPP) or obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Pistol and Revolvers or Long Guns or Ammunition. A background check is required to buy a handgun from a private individual — private party firearms transfers are required to be performed by a federally licensed dealer.

Open carry and concealed carry are legal in Connecticut with a CTPP. The minimum age is 21. Connecticut residents as well as non-residents with a valid CCW license from their home state can apply for a CTPP.  Some areas are off-limits, including schools and state parks.

CTPPs require a state-approved firearms training course that includes live-fire exercises. In terms of reciprocity, Connecticut does not honor permits from any other states.

Self-Defense

The Castle Doctrine is incorporated into Connecticut law governing the use of physical force in defense of premises. Although there is no duty to retreat in a person’s home, there is a duty to retreat outside of one’s home.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Person

A person is justified in using reasonable physical force to defend the person or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force, and the person may use such degree of force which is reasonably believed to be necessary for such purpose; except that deadly physical force may not be used unless the actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force, or inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Property

A person is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent an attempt to commit larceny or criminal mischief involving property or larceny; but he or she may use deadly physical force only in defense of person.

Use of Physical Force in Defense of Premises

A person in possession or control of premises, or a person who is licensed or privileged to be in or upon such premises, is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass. But a person may use deadly physical force under such circumstances only:

In Defense of a Person;

When he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent an attempt by the trespasser to commit arson or any crime of violence; or

To the extent that he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry by force into a dwelling or place of work, and for the sole purpose of such prevention or termination.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann §§  53a-19, 53a-20 & 53a-21]

What Was New York’s Law?

To get a license to carry a concealed firearm in New York State, a citizen had to show a “proper cause.” In practice, this meant that a local licensing official had to agree that the person had a “special need,” such as facing a current threat or recurring danger.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey also employ similar standards, known as “may issue” laws”. Many other states instead have a “shall issue” regime where local officials must issue a license to carry a concealed firearm as long as the person does not have a disqualifying characteristic, including a felony conviction, mental illness or a restraining order against them.

For most of American history, the court ignored the Second Amendment. The first major ruling on its meaning did not come until the 1930s, and the court did not address whether the amendment recognized a fundamental individual right until 2008 in the landmark D.C. v. Heller.

That ruling, written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, recognized a right to keep a firearm in the home. How far the right extended into public spaces was not clear.

Scalia wrote that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” That meant “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” or “prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons” were “presumptively lawful.”

The new ruling establishes that the gun right recognized by the Second Amendment is a fundamental right like any other and must be accorded the highest level of protection. It’s inherently dangerous nature does not mean that the right is interpreted or limited differently.

Justice Clarence Thomas – perhaps the most conservative justice on the court – wrote the majority opinion. In Thomas’ view, we do not need to ask prior permission of a government official to exercise a constitutional right: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officials some special need.” Thomas concludes that the Bill of Rights – including the Second Amendment – “demands our unqualified deference.”

This means that a local government may regulate but not eradicate the core right, including the ability to carry a concealed firearm. Any allowable regulation demands a compelling state interest, with convincing evidence of the need and effectiveness of the regulation.

The dissenters were led by Justice Stephen Breyer, who opened his dissent with the number of Americans killed with firearms in 2020 – 45,222. His longstanding view is that the Second Amendment deals with a more dangerous right, and thus it is more open to being regulated.

In Breyer’s view, the majority’s ruling “refuses to consider the government interests that justify a challenged gun regulation.” Breyer concludes that “The primary difference between the Court’s view and mine is that I believe the Amendment allows States to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence … I fear that the Court’s interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”

The majority’s view of the Second Amendment is part of a dramatic shift in the court’s understanding of the Constitution. That shift reflects the recent arrival of a conservative justice, Amy Coney Barrett, increasing the previous majority of five to a supermajority of six justices.

The new supermajority, all nominated by Republican presidents, insists that the Constitution is not a living document that evolves as the beliefs and values of society shift. That was the longtime perspective more influential on the court since the rights revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, but now held by only a minority of justices.

The conservative majority believes the Constitution should be read in the original fashion of how the text itself would have been understood by those who wrote and ratified it. This is often called “originalism.”

The originalist reading means that the enumerated rights of the Amendments, including the Second Amendment, are not up for majority rule. They are core, established rights.

Editor’s Note:  Originalist a type of judicial interpretation of a constitution (especially the US Constitution) that aims to follow how it would have been understood or was intended to be understood at the time it was written.

the principle or belief that a text should be interpreted in a way consistent with how it would have been understood or was intended to be understood at the time it was written.

U.S. Constitution written and adopted in September 17, 1787

Bill of Rights, on June 8, 1789, Representative James Madison introduced a series of proposed amendments to the newly ratified U.S. Constitution. That summer the House of Representatives debated Madison’s proposal, and on August 24th  the House passed 17 amendments to be added to the Constitution.

The ruling by the new majority does not insist that states adopt the most unrestricted standards for concealed-carry that states like Maine or Texas have. Only the states with the most restrictive gun laws, including California and New York, will be forced to change policies.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a separate opinion to highlight that “the Court’s decision does not prohibit States from imposing licensing requirements for carrying a handgun for self-defense.” He emphasized that, “properly interpreted, the Second Amendment allows a “variety” of gun regulations.”

The majority opinion specifically states that concealed carry of firearms in sensitive places can be regulated: “We can assume it settled” that prohibitions on concealed carry in sensitive locations, including historically allowed ones such as “legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses,” as well as other “new and analogous sensitive places are constitutionally permissible.” This likely includes government buildings, stadiums, churches and schools.

This landmark ruling on the meaning and application of the Second Amendment changes the law in several states that would prefer to impose greater restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms. More broadly, it announces a major shift in how the court will understand the nature of rights under the Constitution.

The liberal justices in the waning minority believe that the new approach is changing American constitutional law “without considering the potentially deadly consequences.” The new majority sees the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a more uncompromising light that will alter American law in the coming years.

The Supreme Court decision doesn’t mean other restrictions that have long been in place, such as the prohibition of guns in certain locations, will change. There are numerous locations where someone cannot carry a gun, including federal buildings.

In Connecticut, that also includes school groundseither house of the General Assembly, any building where a public hearing of the General Assembly is held, any state park and any place where firearms are prohibited by the person who owns the premises or prohibited by law.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, as well as other lawmakers, believe that this decision by SCOTUS is a destructive decision will unleash even more gun violence on American communities. Instead of upholding common-sense safeguards to reduce gun violence, it will only put more guns in public spaces and open the floodgates to invalidate sensible gun safety laws in more states.

Labeled “a significant step backwards at a moment when horrendous shootings happen across our country every day, taking too many beautiful lives and terrorizing generations of Americans”.

Connecticut Gun Laws at a Glance

Carry Basics

CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY?

Does Connecticut allow constitutional carry?

No.
OPEN CARRY PERMITTED?

Is open carry permitted in Connecticut?

Yes, with a CT Pistol Permit only.
GUN PERMIT LICENSURE?

If Connecticut requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?

May-issue.
MINIMUM AGE FOR CONCEALED CARRY?

What is the minimum age in Connecticut to get a concealed carry permit?

21.
WEAPONS OTHER THAN HANDGUNS ALLOWED?

Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Connecticut with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?

No.
TASERS OR STUN GUNS?

Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Connecticut?

Yes. As of July 1, 2021, “electronic defense weapons” (e.g., stun guns) can be carried as long as the individual is 21 years old or older and possess a valid firearms credential (i.e., a handgun or long gun eligibility certificate, permit to carry or sell handguns, or ammunition certificate).

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann § 53-206]
[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann § 29-38]

CHEMICAL SPRAY/PEPPER SPRAY?

Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Connecticut?

Yes. There is no statute prohibiting the purchase or use of pepper spray in Connecticut.
MAGAZINE LIMITS FOR HANDGUNS?

Does Connecticut have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?

No more than 10 rounds.

“Large capacity magazine” means any firearm magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition, but does not include: a feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds of ammunition, a .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device, or a magazine that is permanently inoperable. Any person who distributes, imports into the state, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, or purchases a high-capacity magazine is criminally liable for a class D felony.

There is also a grandfather provision for high-capacity magazines possessed prior to January 1, 2014.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53-202w]

AMMUNITION RESTRICTIONS?

Does Connecticut have ammunition restrictions?

Yes. Armor-piercing and incendiary .50-caliber ammunition is prohibited. A handgun carry permit, gun sales permit, long-gun/handgun eligibility certificate or an ammunition certificate is required to purchase ammunition. Ammunition certificates are issued by the state’s Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection after a background check and must be renewed every 5 years.

[Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-38m(c) and 53-202l(a)]

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1 reply
  1. Paula Sweeley
    Paula Sweeley says:

    Certainly a very thorough examination of CT gun laws. Very complicated. We can be grateful that our state is protective of all citizens regarding owning and carrying guns. We still see frequent reports of shootings, so the dangers of aggressive use of weapons seems virtually impossible to control. However, in CT, we are better protected than in many other states.

    Thanks for this article.

    Reply

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