Supreme Court ruling could challenge Connecticut gun laws

Expect to see more guns in public after a major Supreme Court decision Thursday expanded the right to carry firearms. In Connecticut, the ruling won’t have an immediate impact, but legal experts think it could invite challenges to the state’s strict gun laws.
It’s the biggest Second Amendment ruling since 2008. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that people have a constitutional right to carry guns in public – although the decision allows for restrictions in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

It will now be up to lower courts to figure out where firearms can be restricted, based on this new standard.

“The Court says the Second Amendment right to have a handgun for self-defense isn’t just a gun you’re going to keep at home,” said Quinnipiac School of Law professor Stephen Gilles. “It extends to carrying a gun outside the home.”

The case overturns New York’s strict pistol permit law, which requires gun owners to provide a “special need” to carry in public.

“New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion .

The reaction was swift.

“We cannot allow New York to become the Wild, Wild West,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Connecticut does not require a reason to carry, but police can reject an applicant deemed “unsuitable” to own a firearm. In spite of that limitation, Gilles believes our state’s law is safe because justices noted, in practice, “Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island … appear to operate like ‘shall issue’ jurisdictions.“

“The message it sends to Connecticut is, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, your law is going to likely survive any legal challenge,” he said.

Gov. Ned Lamont believes the state’s permit law is constitutional too.

“The court specifically distinguished our approach when it comes to the issuance of permits and tools for law enforcement to keep firearms out of the hands of those who may do harm,” he said in a statement. “However, we should all be concerned that today’s ruling heralds a newly aggressive effort to second-guess commonsense state and local policies that save lives while accommodating both gun rights and gun safety.”

But the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which represents 43,000 gun owners, believes the state’s permit law is vulnerable.

“The CCDL currently has a argument that we filed last year against three major cities here in the state of Connecticut — Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven — for making it virtually impossible for residents of their city to apply for a permit,” said CCDL president Holly Sullivan. “In many, many cases, those time frames are being abused. Some people are waiting a year, sometimes longer.”

If police deny an applicant, they can appeal to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, but that process can take more than two years.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong also warns other gun laws are now at risk, including age restrictions and the state’s assault weapons ban.

“If this Bruen decision leads to an attack on Connecticut’s guns laws, we will be the firewall and we will do everything we can to protect Connecticut families and children — particularly kids in school — from gun violence,” said Tong.

Last week, Blue Line Firearms and Tactical in Monroe told us they believe the current permit system works well.

“We’re so used to how it is here, you know, going through the process,” said owner Richard Sprandel. “It’s a big responsibility, and we like responsible gun owners.”

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