OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5409



This bill limits the application forms for a temporary state gun permit to forms prescribed by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) under law, and it prescribes the documentation that, when submitted, triggers the eight-week period a permit-issuing official normally has to process the permit. Under current law, the deadline is triggered after a “sufficient application,” which current law does not define.

The bill prohibits an official issuing a temporary state gun permit from modifying the gun permit application form, prescribed by the DESPP commissioner, or supplementing it with other forms or requests for additional information from the applicant not otherwise required by law.

The bill requires applicants to submit the following, in addition to the completed and notarized application forms:

1. two sets of fingerprints to be processed in accordance with the state law governing the collection of fingerprints for gun permit applications;

2. a certificate of successful completion of a safety or training course in handgun use signed by an instructor certified by the state or the National Rifle Association; and

3. for U.S. citizens, a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or valid U.S. passport; and, for aliens, a permanent resident card, a valid visa, or an employment authorization form.

Current law does not specify what applicants must submit.

Under a separate law, unchanged by the bill, local permit-issuing officials must still find an applicant suitable to carry handguns before they can issue a permit (CGS 29-29) (see BACKGROUND).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016


Gun Permit and Suitability Criteria

With minor exceptions, state law bars anyone from carrying handguns (except antique handguns) in Connecticut without a permit. In a two-step process, state residents must first get a temporary state permit from the local permit-issuing official (in most cases, the police chief) as a condition of getting a five-year DESPP permit. The official must investigate the applicant and find that he or she is a suitable person to carry firearms and wants to carry them for lawful purposes (CGS 29-28 to 29).

The law does not define suitability, which is left to the official's discretion, and it does not expressly limit what officials may consider when determining suitability. But many court opinions dealing with suitability for gun permits cite the definition of suitability from an 1894 Connecticut Supreme Court decision that involved liquor licenses.

The word “suitable,” as descriptive of an applicant for license under the statute, is insusceptible of any legal definition that wholly excludes the personal views of the tribunal authorized to determine the suitability of the applicant. A person is suitable who, by reason of his character – his reputation in the community, his previous conduct as a licensee – is shown to be suited or adapted to the orderly conduct of [an activity] which the law regards as so dangerous to public welfare that its transaction by any other than a carefully selected person, duly licensed, is made a criminal offense. It is patent that the adaptability of any person to such [an activity] depends upon facts and circumstances that may be indicated, but cannot be fully defined by law, whose probative force will differ in different cases, and must in each case depend largely upon the sound judgment of the selecting tribunal (Smith's Appeal from County Commissioners, 65 Conn. 135, 138 (1894)).


Public Safety and Security Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute