October 22, 2009
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
You asked if it is (1) legal to possess handguns without a permit. You also asked if it is illegal for a person with a valid gun permit to (1) carry exposed handguns in public or (2) carry exposed handguns on his or her private property.
The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to give legal opinions and this should not be taken as one.
1. Is it lawful to possess handguns without a permit?
The law does not require a person to have a permit in order to possess handguns within his or her “dwelling house or place of business” (CGS § 29-35). The court has defined business place for purposes of this statute as a “business in which the individual has a proprietary, controlling or possessory interest and, therefore, does not include place of employment in its scope” (State v. Vickers, 260 Conn. 219, 223).
The law also exempts from the permit requirement:
1. Connecticut parole and peace officers;
2. other states' parole and peace officers on official business;
3. federal marshals and law enforcement officers;
4. U.S. Armed Forces members on, or going to or from, duty;
5. members of a military organization on parade or going to or from a place of assembly; and
6. anyone carrying a handgun (a) in its original package from the point of purchase to his or her home or business place, (b) as merchandise, (c) for repair or when moving household goods, (d) to or from a testing range at a firearm permit-issuing official's request, or (e) to a competition or exhibit under an out-of-state permit.
2. Is it illegal for a person with a valid gun permit to carry exposed handguns on his or her person in a public place? Is it illegal for a person with a valid gun permit to carry exposed handguns on his or her private property?
The statutes authorizing the carrying of handguns are silent on these issues. And there is no binding interpretation of these statutes. According to the Attorney General's Office:
. . . the question of whether permitted gun owners must carry the firearm in a concealed manner is currently in litigation. While the statute doesn't explicitly prohibit the open carrying of a weapon, the Department of Public Safety feels that publicly carrying a weapon may implicate criminal statutes in certain circumstances. The Office of the Attorney General does not enforce those statutes.
Further, whether or not the Department believes that the current law requires the concealed carrying of such weapon, our office has not provided any legal advice on that matter as we have not been asked by the Department to answer such a question.