November 9, 2010
OLR BACKGROUNDER: GUN PERMIT CONFIDENTIALITY
By: Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II
Under CGS §§ 29-28(d) and 29-36g(e), the names and addresses of people issued permits to sell or carry guns and eligibility certificates for a pistol or revolver are to be kept confidential, with exceptions. The information may be disclosed to:
1. law enforcement officers acting within the scope of their duties,
2. verify a permit is still valid and has not been suspended or revoked, and
3. the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services to determine the commitment status of firearm permit applicants or holders.
These statutes were enacted in 1994 (PA 94-1 (July Spec. Sess.)) and 1998 (PA 98-129), respectively.
The gun permit confidentiality provisions and the first two exceptions listed above were passed as part of a larger gun bill in the July 6th Special Session (§§ 4 and 8 of PA 94-1). The bill (HB 7501), An Act Concerning the Sale, Transfer and Possession of Pistols and Revolvers, the Possession of Assault Weapons and the Storage of Firearms and Weapons by the Department of Correction, was passed as an “Emergency Certification,” which means the speaker and president pro tempore jointly proposed the bill and sent it directly to the House for action without any committee referrals or public hearings. The confidentiality provision was part of the original Emergency Certified bill and was not inserted as an amendment. (Different versions of the gun bill were introduced and had public hearings in the 1994 regular session, but none of them contained the confidentiality provision and none were passed into law.)
On July 6, 1994, the House passed the bill by an 84-62 vote. There was no substantive debate on the confidentiality provision, but while debating other parts of the bill, Representative Fusco (81st) asked the rhetorical question, “Do we want to tell the criminals who has all the guns?” (House transcript, July 6, 1994).
Also, the proponent of the bill, Representative Lawlor (99th), when responding to a question from Representative Prelli (63rd), stated that the bill applies the confidentiality provision to everyone, not just police officers and correction officials (House transcript, July 6, 1994).
On the same day, the Senate took up the bill and passed it by a 21-13 vote without discussing the confidentiality provision. The governor signed the public act on July 7, 1994, and the confidentiality provisions took effect on October 1, 1994.
The third exception to the ban on disclosing the name and address of the permit holder was added as part of a larger gun bill in 1998 (§§ 6 and 7 of PA 98-129). This exception allows disclosure to the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services for determining the commitment status of firearm permit applicants or holders.
The Judiciary Committee proposed the bill (HB 5746), An Act Concerning Handgun Safety, which had a public hearing on March 12, 1998. There was no discussion of the confidentiality provisions or exceptions in the public hearing testimony. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee on March 23, 1998; the Public Safety Committee on April 21, 1998; and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee on April 29, 1998.
Both chambers passed the bill unanimously (148-0 in the House and 36-0 in the Senate). There was no debate on the provision allowing the Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner access to the confidential information. The confidentiality exception was not part of the original bill, rather it was part of House Amendment A, the only amendment offered by either chamber.
The governor signed the public act on May 27, 1998. The act took effect on October, 1, 1998.