Are Long Gun Purchases Being Registered with the Federal Government?

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by Sharon Rondeau

The State of Connecticut has some of the most restrictive laws on purchasing and selling firearms in the country. Many are blaming the Sandy Hook attack on lawful gun owners and the National Rifle Association.

(Jan. 8, 2013) — On Monday, the holder of a valid Connecticut pistol permit related to The Post & Email his experience in purchasing a rifle, which by state law does not require a pistol permit.  The Post & Email has seen the pistol permit, which has photo identification as required by Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), Chapter 529, Section 29-36g.

Article 1, Section 15 of the Connecticut constitution states:

Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

Laws and regulations have been put in place by the Connecticut legislature and the former Department of Public Safety (DPS) , respectively, to limit the purchase of handguns to those deemed eligible.  The DPS is now called the “Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.”  Pistol permits are processed by the Special License and Firearms Unit.

In order to obtain a pistol permit for the first time, an applicant must show “a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or documentation of permanent residence from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,” which appears to be more than a person must provide to run for President of the United States.

Chapter 529, Section 29-36l mandates the maintaining of a state database of registered pistol permit holders, and “the Department of Public Safety shall be the point of contact for initiating a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), established under section 103 of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, on individuals purchasing firearms.”

The Brady law was passed by the 103rd Congress in 1993 and authorized the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) operated by the FBI.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates the circumstances under which firearms dealers can sell weapons to prospective buyers.

The cost to apply for a pistol permit in Connecticut is $140, “plus sufficient funds as required to be transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to cover the cost of a national criminal history records check. The local authority shall forward sufficient funds for the national criminal history records check to the commissioner no later than five business days after receipt by the local authority of the application for the temporary state permit. Seventy dollars shall be retained by the local authority. Upon approval by the local authority of the application for a temporary state permit, seventy dollars shall be sent to the commissioner. The fee to renew each state permit originally issued under the provisions of subsection (b) of section 29-28 shall be seventy dollars. Upon deposit of such fees in the General Fund, ten dollars of each fee shall be credited within thirty days to the appropriation for the Department of Public Safety to a separate nonlapsing account for the purposes of the issuance of permits under subsections (a) and (b) of section 29-28.

Chapter 529, Section 29-36h states that renewal fees are $35.

Under Section §29-35, an individual may possess a handgun without “when such person is within the dwelling house or place of business.”

Section 29-36f of the Connecticut General Statutes reads:

Sec. 29-36f. Eligibility certificate for pistol or revolver. (a) Any person who is twenty-one years of age or older may apply to the Commissioner of Public Safety for an eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver.

(b) The Commissioner of Public Safety shall issue an eligibility certificate unless said commissioner finds that the applicant: (1) Has failed to successfully complete a course approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety 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 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 felony or of a violation of subsection (c) of section 21a-279, 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) has been confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities, as defined in section 17a-495, within the preceding twelve months by order of a probate court; (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); or (9) is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

(July Sp. Sess. P.A. 94-1, S. 7; P.A. 98-129, S. 14; P.A. 99-212, S. 20; P.A. 05-283, S. 5.)

History: P.A. 98-129 added new Subsec. (b)(3) prohibiting the issuance of an eligibility certificate to an applicant who has been convicted as delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense, renumbering the remaining Subdivs. accordingly, and replacing in Subdiv. (5) “hospital for mental illness” with “hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities”; P.A. 99-212 added new Subsec. (b)(7) prohibiting the issuance of an eligibility certificate to an applicant who is subject to a firearms seizure order issued pursuant to Sec. 29-38c(d) after notice and hearing, renumbering remaining Subdiv. accordingly, and made provisions gender neutral; P.A. 05-283 added new Subsec. (b)(8) prohibiting the issuance of an eligibility certificate to an applicant who is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm pursuant to 18 USC 922 (g)(4), and redesignated existing Subdiv. (8) as Subdiv. (9).

A summary of regulations pertaining to the ownership of “long guns,” or rifles, states that no permit is required to purchase one.  Illegal aliens and “mental defectives” are prohibited from acquiring long guns or pistols in Connecticut.  A two-week waiting period is required by CGS §29-33 with several exceptions:

Long Gun Sales and Transfer Procedures

Sales by Licensees. With some exceptions, when gun dealers sell or transfer long guns, they must conform to procedures, the essential elements of which are similar to those governing handgun transfers. The law prohibits dealers from transferring long guns until two weeks after an application. It also requires DPS to conduct a national instant criminal background check on applicants (CGS § 29-37a). But the licensee does not have to know the buyer or require that he or she present valid identification.

The law exempts from the waiting period: (1) federal marshals, parole officers, and peace officers; (2) anyone with a valid hunting license, eligibility certificate, or permit to carry handguns; (3) any member of the U.S. Armed Forces; and (4) anyone buying antique firearms (CGS § 29-37a(b)). It also exempts these people and transactions from provisions requiring (1) buyers to sign a receipt for the firearm and provide certain information on themselves and the firearm and (2) dealers to send this documentation to state and local police officials.

In regard to prohibition of long gun ownership, the summary states:


It is illegal for a person to possess a long gun if he or she:

1. has ever been convicted of a felony;

2. has ever been convicted of a serious juvenile offense;

3. knows that he or she is subject to a restraining or protective order, in a case involving the use, threatened, or attempted use of force (after notice and a hearing opportunity, for in-state orders);

4. knows that he or she is subject to a firearms seizure order, after notice and a hearing opportunity; or

5. is prohibited from transporting or possessing firearms under federal law (because he or she has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution, except in cases where the Treasury Department grants relief from the disability).

State law sets no minimum age for possessing long guns. A junior firearms hunting license may be issued to a child between ages 12 and 16 (CGS § 26-27a). (Federal law prohibits FFLs from selling or transferring long guns to people under age 18. But it does not address sales or transfers by nondealers or possession by minors (18 USC § 922(b) and 27 CFR § 478. 99(b)(1)).

Illegal possession of a long gun is a class D felony with a two-year mandatory minimum prison term (CGS § 53a-217(b)).

Carrying a firearm in public “dictates that (1) ‘every effort should be made to ensure that no gun is exposed to view or carried in any manner that would tend to alarm people who see it. . .[and] (2) no handgun should be carried unless carrying the gun at the time and place involved is prudent and proper in the circumstances.’”

It is a Class D felony to carry a firearm of any type on school property unless for the purpose of participating in an “approved school program” or with the permission of the school district.  CGS §53a-217b states:

(a) A person is guilty of possession of a weapon on school grounds when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person possesses a firearm or deadly weapon, as defined in section 53a-3, (1) in or on the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or (2) at a school-sponsored activity as defined in subsection (h) of section 10-233a.

The ownership of assault weapons is prohibited in Connecticut “unless he or she possessed the weapon before October 1, 1993, registered it with DPS before October 1, 1994, and received a DPS certificate of possession for it; or (2) sell, transfer, distribute, or transport assault weapons.”

After the permit holder arrived at the retailer on Monday and asked to purchase a long gun, he had to wait 45 minutes because the only two people with the special required approval to make the sale were not present in the store at the time.  When one of them returned, the customer was asked if he had a hunting license, to which he responded in the negative.  He was then asked if he had a pistol permit and driver’s license, which he produced, and copies of which were made.  He was given five pages of forms to complete, then instructed to answer six screens of questions online.  It is illegal to make a false statement in the process of purchasing a handgun, although the law does not speak to the purchase of long guns.

Sec. 29-34. False statement or information in connection with sale or transfer of pistol or revolver prohibited. Sale or transfer to person under twenty-one years of age prohibited. Temporary transfers. Penalties. (a) No person shall make any false statement or give any false information connected with any purchase, sale, delivery or other transfer of any pistol or revolver. Any person violating any provision of this subsection shall be guilty of a class D felony.

During the purchase, the assistant department manager, who was handling the transaction, made two phone calls:  one which took 4-5 minutes, and a second which took 3-4 minutes.  After passing all of the background checks, the customer asked for ammunition but found that the type he needed was out of stock.  He then paid for the long gun and was told that he had to leave the store before taking possession of it.  The customer exited the store and the salesperson brought the item to him outside.  “The manager had to carry the rifle past the door” in keeping with store policy, the customer told us.

The customer reported that several years ago, when he purchased a handgun at a licensed gun shop, he had to leave the store with it and return to make a separate purchase of the ammunition.  “I couldn’t buy them at the same time,” he said.

The State of Connecticut defers to the ATF for the “Other” category shown on the form which gun retailers are required to complete. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, Gov. Dannel Malloy has said that he believes a stronger federal law will curtail gun violence more effectively than Connecticut’s laws.

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