A ROAD TRIP WITH A HANDGUN: The Case For Universal State Concealed Handgun Carry Reciprocity
THE CIRCUITOUS, TORTUOUS ROUTE TO OBTAINING MULTIPLE UNRESTRICTED CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSES AS EXPERIENCED BY OUR INTREPID CITIZEN, MR. WRIGHT.
The Adventures of One Law-Abiding American Citizen as He Traverses the Minefield of Firearms’ Laws, Attempting to Secure for Himself Multiple Concealed Handgun Carry Licenses from A Multitude Of Jurisdictions That He May Exercise His Fundamental Right To Keep And Bear Arms Under The Second Amendment To The U.S. Constitution For The Purpose Of Self-Defense
A Comprehensive Analysis of The Procedures for Obtaining a Concealed Handgun Carry License in Various States for The Layman
PART FOUR: THE CONNECTICUT FIREARM APPLICATION PROCEDURE FOR ACQUIRING AN UNRESTRICTED CONCEALED HANDGUN CARRY LICENSE: THE APPLICATION PACKET
SUBPART FOUR OF THE CONNECTICUT HANDGUN CARRY PROCESS APPLICATION
If you have arrived at our website for the first time, and this is the first article you have come across on our ROAD TRIP series, the Arbalest Quarrel has been discussing, in the last few articles, the application process for securing a Connecticut handgun carry license.
The State’s licensing Statute refers to the handgun carry licenses its Division of State Police issues to qualified applicants as: “State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers.” In this discussion, for brevity, we will refer to the type of license a qualified handgun permit holder must carry with him on his person—when also carrying a pistol or revolver on his person—as a ‘handgun carry permit.’ The reader should understand that this shortened expression does not appear in the State Statute and that the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESSP) does not use this expression either. Still, the shortened expression carries the essential meaning of the longer, statutory, expression and will be a useful for our purpose.
If you haven’t read SUBPART ONE through SUBPART THREE of the ROAD TRIP series of articles on CONNECTICUT’S PERMIT PROCEDURES FOR HANDGUN LICENSING, we suggest you do so before reading the instant article as our articles follow a straightforward linear progression and we place the licensing scheme of this State, and others that we discuss, in appropriate context.
WHY ARE WE DOING A COMPREHENSIVE SERIES OF ARTICLES EXPLAINING THE LAWS AND PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING HANDGUN CARRY LICENSES FROM REPRESENTATIVE JURISDICTIONS?
One reason we are doing this series is to bring to the reader’s attention the costly, time-consuming, frustrating, and often confoundingly complex process of obtaining multiple handgun carry licenses from multiple jurisdictions. The Arbalest Quarrel has commenced this formal series of articles with the aim of systematically laying out the handgun licensing procedures of selected jurisdictions. We hope and trust that these articles will save our readers considerable time if they are contemplating applying for and securing a handgun carry license from any one or more of the jurisdictions that are the subject of our attention in the ROAD TRIP series of articles.
There is, however, another reason the Arbalest Quarrel is doing this ROAD TRIP series and in the specific manner presented—through the experiences of an actual individual, an American citizen and successful businessman whom we refer to as Mr. Wright, to protect his identity. By personalizing the process, we emphasize how an otherwise dry subject has a real-world impact on a living person, a law-abiding American citizen who has been forced to engage in the time-consuming, costly, often frustrating process of having first to obtain and then to renew on a continuous basis multiple handgun licenses from multiple jurisdictions. He must do this even as he seeks nothing more nor less than to exercise his fundamental, sacred right to keep and bear arms for the lawful, recognized purpose of self-defense.
The application process for securing any firearm license, let alone an unrestricted “full carry” permit, is not an easy process. It requires considerable time and attention to detail. If an application is incomplete or completed improperly, those governmental authorities tasked with processing an applicant’s handgun or long gun application will cease doing so and whatever time and money the applicant has spent in the process will be for naught.
Understand, too, as we here emphasize, and as the ROAD TRIP series clearly illustrates, firearms’ application and processes and procedures are generally time-consuming, often confusing, ever duplicative, inevitably tedious, and invariably expensive. In several jurisdictions the exercise of one’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is only available to those American citizens who can afford the expense of securing gun licenses—an expense that one must bear beyond the cost of handguns, long guns, supplies, tools, and ammunition–and those American citizens who have the fortitude and stoic resolve to follow through with the lengthy application process. Renewing one’s firearms’ licenses involve yet more time and expense, and create additional aggravation for the law-abiding gun license or permit holder.
Furthermore, in “MAY ISSUE” States, one’s application for a handgun carry license may be denied even if the person is not otherwise prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, which is to say, the applicant for a handgun license is not under a disability—defined in State and Federal Statute—that operates as an automatic exclusion from possessing firearms.
In “MAY ISSUE” States an applicant for the most coveted gun license—and the one generally most meaningful to the notion of self-defense, namely a concealed handgun carry permit or license—must demonstrate “NEED” sufficient to support issuance of a handgun license.
The mere fact the applicant is not under disability is insufficient to warrant issuance of a handgun carry license to that applicant in “MAY ISSUE” jurisdictions. The applicant must present a case for issuance of the handgun license, to the satisfaction of the official tasked for issuing those licenses or permits. That means the applicant must present a convincing case for issuance of a concealed handgun carry permit or license to that applicant beyond the mere recitation of the fact that and proof of the fact that he or she is under no disability.
But, what constitutes “NEED” sufficient to support issuance of a handgun license to a person not under disability often differs from one jurisdiction to the next. Contrariwise, in “SHALL ISSUE” States, a showing of need to carry a handgun isn’t required. So long as a person isn’t under disability, the licensing authority will issue a handgun carry permit or license to that person. The licensing authority doesn’t have discretion in the matter to deny a person, not under disability, from lawfully carrying a handgun in “SHALL ISSUE” jurisdictions. That means the licensing authority will issue a person a handgun carry license or permit to that person as long as that person is under no federal or State disability.
IS CONNECTICUT A “MAY ISSUE” OR A “SHALL ISSUE” JURISDICTION?
Is Connecticut a “MAY ISSUE” State or a “SHALL ISSUE” State? You might think the matter would be clear enough from a review of the firearms’ licensing laws of a State and, from a purely logical point of view, you might think a State has to be either one or the other; not both; and not neither. In Connecticut, however, fuzzy logic takes over. It isn’t clear, as you will see as we discuss the actual application process.
ONCE A PERSON RECEIVES HIS OR HER COVETED HANDGUN CARRY LICENSE, THAT PERSON MUST ALWAYS BE ON GUARD NOT TO FORFEIT IT.
Even after a person secures a license, he or she must be mindful of the laws governing firearm’s use. Keep uppermost in mind: What is so very difficult to obtain is, on the other hand, extremely easy to lose. As in any other jurisdiction that issues handgun carry permits, the holder of Connecticut handgun carry permit will forfeit the handgun carry permit, and his firearms, if that handgun carry permit holder violates Connecticut firearms laws in any manner. Violations may be as innocuous as failing to meet renewal of handgun carry permit deadlines. Or, violations may be as serious as mishandling or misusing firearms or falling into one or more disability categories, after issuance of the handgun carry permit, such as conviction for domestic violence.
Keep in mind, too, that many jurisdictions do not wish for civilians to own and possess firearms. Those jurisdictions argue that firearms in the hands of the average law-abiding, rational citizen, notwithstanding, serves only to reduce public safety—and public safety is, ostensibly at least, the primary concern of State legislatures when they enact firearms’ laws. The right of the individual American citizen to keep and bear arms often takes a back seat to and is often perceived as inconsistent with the State’s concern to maximize public safety, even though, in truth, there is no inconsistency between firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens and public safety. In fact, firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens promotes public safety as many scientific studies demonstrate. Firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens, then, does not detract from public safety, contrary to those who assert that it does. Such jurisdictions that abhor the presence of firearms in the hands of the average law-abiding citizen, and, so, are openly averse to the notion of the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms, yet assert inconsistently and hypocritically the existence of the right of the people to keep and bear arms in their State Constitutions or otherwise assert that right in State Statute–mirroring the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—even as they enact laws to constrain and constrict and restrict its application. How often does the public hear antigun zealots in State Legislatures and in Congress assert speciously and incongruously, that “of course we support the Second Amendment,” even as they roll out another set of purported “common-sense laws” to curb the exercise of that very right–as if to convince the public that the assertion of the right is enough to dampen criticism that they mean no less than to restrict the exercise of that right and, eventually, to destroy it altogether.
Since the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as a codification of the natural right to keep and bear arms cannot be denied, those jurisdictions that rather not issue firearms’ licenses and permits, do so only grudgingly, if at all. Thus, they have no desire to make the process simple, or painless, or cheap, or quick. The firearm licensing process, across the Country, must be simplified. Congressional enactment of an effective national concealed handgun carry reciprocity law would go a long way in simplifying the process.
This takes us to the third reason we are doing this series. As Donald Trump has now taken the oath of high Office—he is no longer simply President-elect Donald Trump; he is President Donald Trump. There is a high probability that Americans will see national concealed handgun carry reciprocity legislation enacted in the foreseeable future, in some form. If so, the present tortuous exercise one must engage in, applying for and obtaining multiple handgun carry licenses from multiple governmental jurisdictions, will no longer be necessary. A law-abiding citizen will have in his or her possession, then, one license that will permit the handgun license holder, to carry, lawfully, a handgun, concealed on that person, in every jurisdiction—or, at least, will allow that person to carry a handgun lawfully in many more jurisdictions than is currently the case as several jurisdictions have established reciprocity agreements with one or more other jurisdictions. Many, though, have not.
Ideally, the issuance to a person of one valid concealed handgun carry license would work much like a motorist’s license. One valid motorist’s license or operator’s license issued in one State, allows the holder of said valid license to drive his vehicle lawfully in every other State. Of course, driving an automobile on State roads and highways is a privilege, not a fundamental, inherent right. Yet, the ease by which one applies for and obtains a motorist’s or operator’s license would suggest that driving a vehicle on State or interstate roads and highways is a right. Owning and possessing firearms is, on the other hand, a fundamental, inherent right, preexistent in the people. There’s no question about it. But the difficulties in obtaining a license to exercise that fundamental right coupled with the fact that one must, in virtually all jurisdictions, obtain a firearms’ license or permit, issued by a governing body, to fully enjoy that right in the broadest possible sense, reduces a right to a mere privilege, bestowed by government on the individual. Of course, any privilege given is one that can easily be taken away.
Let’s now explore, further, the time-consuming, costly, and, often difficult process of obtaining a handgun carry permit that allows one lawfully to carry a pistol or revolver in Connecticut.
THE CONNECTICUT HANDGUN CARRY APPLICATION PACKET
NOTE: CONNECTICUT PISTOL PERMIT PROCEDURES FOR NON-RESIDENTS ARE DIFFERENT THAN FOR THOSE WHO RESIDE IN THE STATE: NON-RESIDENTS MUST SECURE A VALID HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT FROM ANOTHER JURISDICTION BEFORE AN APPLICATION FOR A CONNECTICUT HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT WILL BE CONSIDERED
Mr. Wright’s attorney, working together with a professional security consultant, has done the legwork for Mr. Wright. The attorney first perused the State website. He determined that a non-resident must contact the DESSP for application materials. The initial forms are not provided online. Mr. Wright’s attorney then contacted, by phone, the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police of the DESSP. The phone number of the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police is provided on the State website.
Mr. Wright’s attorney spoke with an Officer of the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police of the DESSP, requesting handgun carry application materials. The Officer was diligent and did respond immediately to the telephone request as Mr. Wright’s attorney received the application materials a few days later. The application materials consisted of the following: The first document that Mr. Wright’s attorney saw when he retrieved the documents from the manila envelope, was a green sheet, titled, “CONNECTICUT STATE PISTOL PERMITS,” subtitled, “OUT OF STATE RESIDENTS.”
The sheet listed “mandatory requirements.” They are as follows:
1) Copy of permit to carry a pistol or revolver, issued by another jurisdiction.
2) DPS 46 Application Card for State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers, signed and completed
3) DPS 799-C Application for non-residents, completed, signed and notarized
4) DPS 129-C, completed, signed and notarized with 2 by 2 color passport photo attached
5) Fingerprint card, signed and completed, including fingerprints
6) Cashiers check or money order for $70.00 payable to: “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”—for Application
7) Cashier’s check or money order for $50.00 payable to: “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”—(for CT fingerprint processing)
8) Cashiers check or money order for $12.00 payable to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut” (for FBI fingerprint processing)
9) Documentation of successfully completing a Firearms Safety course for pistols and revolvers that has been “approved” by the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection as required by CT State Statute 29-28(b).
10) A copy of citizenship (birth certificate or United States Passport). Send a copy, do not send original.
11) Legal Aliens Residents need to provide a copy of their Alien Registration card and 90-day proof of residency within their state. If applicable, a copy of naturalization papers should be sent with application.
12) If applicable, include a copy of form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty from military which MUST specifically state discharge status.
ALL INFORMATION MUST BE COMPLETED IN ORDER FOR YOUR APPLICATION TO BE PROCESSED. FULL LEGAL FIRST NAME, MIDDLE INITIAL AND LAST NAME REQUIRED.
****INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS PACKAGES WILL BE RETURNED!!!!!***
Questions can be directed to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit at the address or number below.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
Division of State Police
1111Country Club Road
Middletown, CT 06457
Telephone: (860) 685-8494
Fax: (860) 685-8496
Along with the green cover sheet, the Connecticut Application for State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers, included the following:
1) A small, indexed size orange card, titled, “APPLICATION FOR STATE PERMIT TO CARRY PISTOLS AND REVOLVERS.”
2) A blue four page folded instruction sheet, the first page of which has three columns: the first column provides “Instructions for State Pistol Permits” for residents of Connecticut; the second, middle column, provides “Instructions for Non-Resident State Pistol Permits”; and the third column provides instructions for “Eligibility Certificate to Purchase Pistols or Revolves and/or eligibility Certificates to Purchase Long Guns.” The interior two pages and last page of the blue four page instruction sheet is the comprehensive application form proper.
3) In the application packet is a white sheet on which the applicant is to attach a recent passport photograph. Note: the passport photograph must have been taken within six months of the application.
4) There is also included a white Fingerprint Card.
Mr. Wright, together with his attorney, and with his professional security consultant looked over the documents and prepared to complete them.
Mr. Wright’s attorney first made certain that he had in front of him Section 29-28 of the Connecticut State Statute. The Statute is critical. If in doubt about anything in the application, the Statute is the first critical “go-to” information source to get a handle on Connecticut’s handgun licensing procedures. Beyond State Statute, regulating the issuance of handgun carry licenses,
We have provided you, the reader, with the critical portion of this document for non-resident, Section 29-28(b), below, since Mr. Wright isn’t a resident of Connecticut. Note: we have also made a copy of this Statutory section in SUBPART THREE of this Article.
The pertinent portion of the Statute reads:
Sec. 29-28. Permit for sale at retail of pistol or revolver. Permit to carry pistol or revolver. Confidentiality of name and address of permit holder. Permits for out-of-state residents. (b) Upon the application of any person having a bona fide permanent residence within the jurisdiction of any such authority, such chief of police, warden or selectman may issue a temporary state permit to such person to carry a pistol or revolver within the state, provided such authority shall find that such applicant intends to make no use of any pistol or revolver which such applicant may be permitted to carry under such permit other than a lawful use and that such person is a suitable person to receive such permit. No state or temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver shall be issued under this subsection if the applicant (1) has failed to successfully complete a course approved by the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection in the safety and use of pistols and revolvers including, but not limited to, a safety or training course in the use of pistols and revolvers available to the public offered by a law enforcement agency, a private or public educational institution or a firearms training school, utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a safety or training course in the use of pistols or revolvers conducted by an instructor certified by the state or the National Rifle Association, (2) has been convicted of (A) a felony, or (B) on or after October 1, 1994, a violation of subsection (c) of section 21a-279 or section 53a-58, 53a-61, 53a-61a, 53a-62, 53a-63, 53a-96, 53a-175, 53a-176, 53a-178 or 53a-181d, (3) has been convicted as delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense, as defined in section 46b-120, (4) has been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to section 53a-13, (5) (A) has been confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities, as defined in section 17a-495, within the preceding sixty months by order of a probate court, or (B) has been voluntarily admitted on or after October 1, 2013, to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities, as defined in section 17a-495, within the preceding six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person as those terms are defined in section 17a-680, (6) is subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person, (7) is subject to a firearms seizure order issued pursuant to subsection (d) of section 29-38c after notice and hearing, (8) is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm pursuant to 18 USC 922(g)(4), (9) is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States, or (10) is less than twenty-one years of age. Nothing in this section shall require any person who holds a valid permit to carry a pistol or revolver on October 1, 1994, to participate in any additional training in the safety and use of pistols and revolvers. No person may apply for a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver more than once within any twelve-month period, and no temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver shall be issued to any person who has applied for such permit more than once within the preceding twelve months. Any person who applies for a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver shall indicate in writing on the application, under penalty of false statement in such manner as the issuing authority prescribes, that such person has not applied for a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver within the past twelve months. Upon issuance of a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver to the applicant, the local authority shall forward the original application to the commissioner. Not later than sixty days after receiving a temporary state permit, an applicant shall appear at a location designated by the commissioner to receive the state permit. The commissioner may then issue, to any holder of any temporary state permit, a state permit to carry a pistol or revolver within the state. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall make available to the permit holder a copy of the law regarding the permit holder’s responsibility to report the loss or theft of a firearm and the penalties associated with the failure to comply with such law. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall forward a record of such permit to the local authority issuing the temporary state permit. The commissioner shall retain records of all applications, whether approved or denied. The copy of the state permit delivered to the permittee shall be laminated and shall contain a full-face photograph of such permittee. A person holding a state permit issued pursuant to this subsection shall notify the issuing authority within two business days of any change of such person’s address. The notification shall include the old address and the new address of such person.”
COMPLETION OF THE DOCUMENTS
Mr. Wright intended to stop by the NYPD Licensing Division headquarters to have his fingerprints taken and he realized that he would need to obtain another colored passport photo since his original passport photo was more than six months old. He would attach the up-to-date photograph to the White Passport Photo sheet that was included in the application packet.
Mr. Wright’s attorney, along with his professional security consultant and expert made certain that Mr. Wright had in his possession a certificate that demonstrated that Mr. Wright had in fact successfully passed an approved firearms safety training course that Connecticut law mandate. He would include the necessary documentation that he would be returning to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police. The “Green” instruction sheet indicated that he can submit a copy of his certification. Prior successful completion of an approved firearms safety training course is a condition precedent to further processing of one’s application for a Connecticut handgun carry permit.
Some jurisdictions that issue concealed handgun carry licenses, such as New York, do not require that the applicant successfully complete s firearm’s safety training course as a precondition to the issuance of the license. That is curious. One would think that a jurisdiction that has instituted a substantial number of stringent requirements for issuance of a concealed handgun carry permits or licenses would have instituted, as one requirement, evidence of satisfactory completion of a firearm’s safety training course. This is not to suggest that the Arbalest Quarrel is mandating that a jurisdiction ought to require satisfactory evidence of having completed such training; for, any responsible, rational person ought to understand how to properly use a firearm if that person expects to rely on it for self-defense. But personal responsibility is something one would expect from a law-abiding, sane person and citizen, living in a free Republic. Personal responsibility is not, we believe, something that should be imposed on the citizen by government, State or federal. In New York, though, it is unlikely the State Legislature dispensed with the requirement that an applicant for a concealed handgun carry license must have successfully completed a firearm’s safety training course as a precondition for issuance of a concealed handgun carry license because the New York State Legislature felt an applicant would invariably obtain that training anyway. More likely, given the draconian laws and codes in place for issuance of such licenses, one might logically conclude that New York abhors the idea that civilians should be allowed to possess firearms. By dispensing with the requirement that an individual show evidence of having successfully completed a firearm’s safety training course and, further, by avoiding providing the applicant with information on how to obtain that training, if a concealed handgun carry license is issued—perhaps even if a licensee requests that information—New York essentially washes its hands of its own responsibility for any potential mishap that might later occur as a result of an individual’s accidentally harming him or herself or others with a firearm.
THE CONNECTICUT FINGERPRINT CARD
Perusing the other documents, Mr. Wright’s attorney saw that only one fingerprint card was included in the packet, even though Mr. Wright’s fingerprints would be processed by the Connecticut Division of State Police and by the FBI. Mr. Wright must cut two checks for fingerprint processing: one for the State of Connecticut’s fingerprint processing and one for the FBI. Mr. Wright’s attorney thought the application packet should include two cards and since only one fingerprint card was provided in the application packet, Mr. Wright’s attorney wondered whether the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit had forgotten to include an additional fingerprint card. Mr. Wright’s attorney thereupon phoned the Special Licensing and Firearm’s Unit of the Division of State Police for clarification. The Officer with whom Mr. Wright’s attorney spoke informed the attorney that only one fingerprint card was necessary. The Special Licensing and Firearm’s Unit made no mistake. There was no oversight. The Officer acknowledged that, previously, two fingerprint cards were provided in handgun carry permit application packet, but that this was no longer done because it was unnecessary now that one fingerprint card was duplicated electronically for the FBI. Apparently, precision copies of the Fingerprint card are now technologically feasible. So, only one fingerprint card is included in the application materials.
Mr. Wright would arrange for the NYPD to take his fingerprints since the NYPD Licensing Division was within the vicinity of Mr. Wright’s main business offices, and Mr. Wright already holds a valid unrestricted New York City handgun carry license. Mr. Wright was aware the NYPD would probably charge him a fee for having his fingerprints taken. Once they were taken, Mr. Wright would return the fingerprint card, together with the other completed documents, to the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police.
Mr. Wright, together with his attorney and security expert then perused those portions of the application that Mr. Wright could complete by pen at his desk.
“THE APPLICATION FOR STATE PERMIT TO CARRY PISTOLS AND REVOLVERS”—AN ORANGE, INDEXED SIZE CARD
Mr. Wright’s attorney and professional security consultant took out the orange, index sized, titled, “APPLICATION FOR STATE PERMIT TO CARRY PISTOLS AND REVOLVERS.” Mr. Wright commenced to complete the card. Mr. Wright was instructed to list his residence address information, including his SSN and MOTOR VEHICLE LICENSE NUMBER. Mr. Wright was also required to list his vital statistics, namely: DOB, SEX, RACE, EYE COLOR, HEIGHT, and WEIGHT. The orange index card also included a box with the heading: “REASON FOR PERMIT.” This gave Mr. Wright and his team of experts pause.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A SUFFICIENTLY GOOD REASON FOR ISSUANCE OF A VAILD HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT TO A QUALIFIED INDIVIDUAL WHO WISHES TO CARRY A HANDGUN LAWFULLY IN CONNECTICUT?
IS CONNECTICT A “MAY ISSUE” OR “SHALL ISSUE” STATE?
Mr. Wright thought the requirement that he state a reason for obtaining a handgun carry permit to carry a handgun lawfully in Connecticut should not be a cause for alarm or consternation. After all, the NYPD Licensing Division required Mr. Wright to provide the Division with a sufficiently good reason to issue Mr. Wright an unrestricted handgun carry license that would allow him to carry a handgun lawfully in the City.
The NYPD Licensing Division considered that, if a business person explains he carries substantial amounts of cash to deposit in his or her bank account, on a regular basis on one or more days, during any given week, and, if the business person can satisfactorily prove that he carries substantial amounts of cash to deposit in a bank—which is established through voluminous documentation—and if the NYPD Licensing Division Officer determines to his personal satisfaction that the amount of cash a business person has on his person that he carries to a bank on a regular basis, in the regular course of his business, is substantial, then, in that case, the Licensing Division Officer may determine that sufficient cause exists for the issuance of either a restricted or unrestricted concealed handgun carry license. The issuance of a restricted or unrestricted New York City concealed handgun carry license by the Licensing Division Officer is not a simple, pro-forma checklist procedure. It is always, case-by-case. So, the Licensing Division Officer is given substantial discretion in the matter of issuing a concealed handgun carry license that allows a person to lawfully carry a concealed handgun on his person in the City. Essentially, the NYPD determines that the carrying of substantial cash places a person at more than usual risk of attack. But, what constitutes a substantial amount of cash is not predetermined.
Mr. Wright wondered whether the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police of Connecticut was looking for a similarly sufficiently good reason to issue a permit to an otherwise qualified individual. Mr. Wright’s attorney was not so certain. A small block on a small index sized card was hardly room enough to explain in detail the assets that Mr. Wright carried with him on a daily basis that placed his life in jeopardy of assault. And, from a review of the materials in the application packet, there was no indication that Mr. Wright must provide substantial documentation pertaining to his business operations, unlike the voluminous documentation he had to provide to the NYPD Licensing Officer. What, then, was the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit looking for? Was this a “trick” question? Would it be enough for one simply to posit: “self-defense?”
Clearly, if a person were applying for a handgun carry license to lawfully carry a handgun in New York City, “SELF-DEFENSE” would be a patently insufficient reason for issuance of a concealed handgun carry license in New York City. If that was the best reason for issuance of an NYPD concealed handgun carry license an applicant for a handgun license could come up with, then that person should spare him or herself the time, and energy, and expense of bothering to apply for a concealed carry license. The NYPD Licensing Officer would perfunctorily deny issuance of the license to that person.
An applicant for a handgun carry license must demonstrate need to carry a handgun. Self-defense isn’t considered sufficient need to carry in New York City and in several other jurisdictions in the State of New York, for New York is a “MAY ISSUE,” State and “MAY ISSUE” in New York and especially in New York City and in many other jurisdictions in New York, and that means very few individuals will obtain a valid concealed handgun carry license. Indeed, Mr. Wright’s attorney was told, bluntly, when he spoke with one licensing Officer for Nassau County, Long Island, New York, that the only individuals who can truly hope to obtain a concealed handgun carry license are judges and politicians. That is quite an admission! Such blatant comment implicates due process and equal protection concerns. But, we have to commend the officer’s blunt honesty for admitting the truth. We suspect the officer wasn’t pleased with what he evidently received as orders from superiors to deny issuance of concealed handgun carry licenses to law-abiding American citizens who are deemed to be mere ordinary folk. But, concerning Connecticut, what was the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police looking for in the way of proof of need to carry a handgun?
Mr. Wright’s attorney was concerned that improperly setting forth an acceptable reason in an otherwise seemingly innocuous portion of documentation materials could preclude Mr. Wright from obtaining a Connecticut handgun carry permit. The issue boiled down to whether Connecticut is a “MAY ISSUE” State or a “SHALL ISSUE” State.
If Connecticut is truly a “MAY ISSUE” State, this means that no applicant is issued a handgun carry permit as a matter of right. In other words, THE STATE MUST LOOK TO NEED BEYOND THE MERE DESIRE TO CARRY A GUN, and the licensing official is generally given substantial discretion in the matter. Would this present a problem for Mr. Wright? How should he “fill-in” the box on the orange card that asked Mr. Wright to state a reason for applying for a Connecticut concealed handgun permit? Mr. Wright’s attorney decided he wouldn’t second-guess what may constitute an appropriate response and, so, realized that the best course of action would be to contact the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Connecticut Division of State Police, directly, and ask the question, point-blank, to ascertain what it was, exactly, that the State was looking for in terms of recognizing sufficient need for issuance of a handgun carry permit to a qualified applicant—an applicant who is not otherwise under some disability–a disability that would preclude that person from possessing a firearm and therefore mandates rejection of one’s application for a Connecticut handgun carry permit.
Mr. Wright’s attorney learned through his discussion with the Officer with whom he spoke that, unlike New York City, the stated need of “SELF-DEFENSE” is an adequate reason for issuance of a handgun carry permit to a qualified individual in Connecticut. In fact, Mr. Wright’s attorney surmised, from the brief conversation he had, with the Officer of the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, that, going into detail or setting forth any reason other than “SELF-DEFENSE” might raise a red flag as to one’s mental stability. One should not say—indeed one should never say on an application for an kind of firearm’s permit or license that: “I FEEL THREATENED BY AFRICAN AMERICANS,” or “I FEEL THREATENED BY WHITES,” or “I FEEL THREATENED BY PRACTITIONERS OF ISLAM.” In other words, KEEP IT SIMPLE. IF “SELF-DEFENSE” IS REASON ENOUGH FOR ISSUANCE OF A HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT IN CONNECTICUT, THEN DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EMBELLISH THAT REASON. In fact, “SELF-DEFENSE” is a salient reason any law-abiding American citizen would have for carrying a handgun.
No more need be said in respect to one’s NEED for a handgun and no more ought to said than “SELF DEFENSE,” as one’s stated and real need for a handgun carry permit. Indeed, we wonder that, if ‘SELF-DEFENSE’ is the one primary, adequate reason for carrying a handgun, why would a jurisdiction instruct a person to state a reason that is obvious on its face–redundant really? It may be that Connecticut is looking to weed out individuals who do not have a documented history of mental illness but who might nonetheless set forth a need to carry a handgun in Connecticut that, once again, raises a red flag as to their mental stability. Or, it may be based on nothing more than an understanding that, because Connecticut is technically a “MAY ISSUE” State–as the firearm licensing statute specifically states that the Commissioner MAY ISSUE a license–so he doesn’t have to, notwithstanding that a person is qualified to carry a weapon because that person is under no disability and meets all other procedural requirements–the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police must instruct an applicant to clearly and categorically assert a reason, on an application document for applying for a handgun carry permit, even if a response is pro forma and perfunctory and even if no further investigation into the stated need is carried out by the governmental authority–the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police–tasked with the processing of all applications for handgun carry permits in Connecticut.
Again, the language of the Connecticut State firearm licensing Statute, as the language of the firearm licensing Statutes of all States, dictates whether the State is officially considered a “MAY ISSUE” or “SHALL ISSUE” State.
Let’s look at the pertinent language of the handgun carry permit Statute of Connecticut once again:
Sec. 29-28. Permit for sale at retail of pistol or revolver. Permit to carry pistol or revolver. Confidentiality of name and address of permit holder. Permits for out-of-state residents. (b) Upon the application of any person having a bona fide permanent residence within the jurisdiction of any such authority, such chief of police, warden or selectman may issue a temporary state permit to such person to carry a pistol or revolver within the state, provided such authority shall find that such applicant intends to make no use of any pistol or revolver which such applicant may be permitted to carry under such permit other than a lawful use and that such person is a suitable person to receive such permit. . . . Upon issuance of a temporary state permit to carry a pistol or revolver to the applicant, the local authority shall forward the original application to the commissioner. Not later than sixty days after receiving a temporary state permit, an applicant shall appear at a location designated by the commissioner to receive the state permit. The commissioner may then issue, to any holder of any temporary state permit, a state permit to carry a pistol or revolver within the state. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall make available to the permit holder a copy of the law regarding the permit holder’s responsibility to report the loss or theft of a firearm and the penalties associated with the failure to comply with such law. Upon issuance of the state permit, the commissioner shall forward a record of such permit to the local authority issuing the temporary state permit. The commissioner shall retain records of all applications, whether approved or denied. The copy of the state permit delivered to the permittee shall be laminated and shall contain a full-face photograph of such permittee. A person holding a state permit issued pursuant to this subsection shall notify the issuing authority within two business days of any change of such person’s address. The notification shall include the old address and the new address of such person.”
The “MAY ISSUE” language in the Statute is clear and categorical and sets forth that the applicable licensing authority MAY ISSUE a “TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT,” and, within sixty days of issuance of the “TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT,” the applicable licensing authority “MAY ISSUE” “THE “STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER WITHIN THE STATE.”—THE PERMANENT PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER WITHIN THE STATE.
So, the Statute is saying that the CHIEF OF POLICE, WARDEN OR SELECTMAN may issue a “TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT” but he doesn’t have to, and thereafter, within sixty days, if the applicant does receive a “TEMPORARY STATE PERMIT,” the applicant must apply for the “STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER” and the Commissioner, for his part, may issue the “STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVERS, but the State Commissioner, too, is not required to issue the Permit.
What does this REALLY mean? We think this means that, if a person, who is not under any disability asserts that he desires a STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER in Connecticut, for no other reason than “SELF DEFENSE” and, if “SELF DEFENSE” is, as the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit Officer honestly says that “SELF DEFENSE” is a perfectly adequate reason for issuance of a STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER in Connecticut, without any further explanatory reason required, and, if the Commissioner thereupon issues a “STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER,” without further ado, then, in effect, and for all practical purposes, Connecticut is a “SHALL ISSUE” State and this is a good thing. That would suggest that the only reason the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Division of State Police requires an applicant for a handgun carry permit to assert a reason for making application for a handgun carry permit at all is simply to comply with the stated language of the State Statute, and nothing more, because such permit will, it is reasonably presumed, always be issued.
However, if the Commissioner can, at will, and at whim, issue or refrain from issuing a “STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER” at his discretion, then Connecticut is, as State Statute makes plain, a TRUE “MAY ISSUE” State, and a person has no understanding of and can have no understanding of a true reason for denial of his or her application for a STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER because the Statute doesn’t require the Commissioner to give a reason for denying a person issuance of a PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER.
The only ultimate recourse for an individual who has been denied issuance of a Connecticut handgun carry permit is to appeal to the Court, arguing bad faith and arbitrary and capricious denial of a PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER. “MAY ISSUE” States always pose “RED HERRINGS” for the law-abiding citizen, who is not under disability, who desires to carry a handgun lawfully in a State.
So, until Mr. Wright’s application for a Connecticut PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER is processed, we cannot say whether Connecticut is a true “MAY ISSUE” STATE where the ultimate licensing official has absolute discretion for issuing or refraining from issuing a handgun carry license or permit with little recourse for the applicant apart from administrative review and further court review of denial to issue, or Connecticut is, in effect, a “SHALL ISSUE” State, despite the language of Statute, because a law-abiding citizen, not under disability who complies with all administrative requirements, will invariably be issued a STATE PERMIT TO CARRY A PISTOL OR REVOLVER.
In the next segment of this article, we will continue our analysis of the application process, when Mr. Wright, with the assistance of his attorney and his professional security consultant and expert complete the detailed, “PISTOL PERMIT/ELIGIBILITY CERTIFICATE APPLICATION” and we look, as well, at the renewal process in Connecticut.
Copyright © 2017 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved