Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Connecticut law provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, no person shall possess a firearm or ammunition if he or she:1
- Has been convicted of a felony (with limited exceptions) or, on or after October 1, 2013, certain violent or intimidating misdemeanors;
- Has been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense;
- Has been discharged from custody within the preceding 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to mental disease or defect;
- Has been confined in a mental hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding year by order of a probate court;
- Is subject to a restraining or protective order of any state court, or a foreign order of protection, in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person;
- Is subject to a firearms seizure order, issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard;
- Was confined on or after October 1, 2013, in a hospital for people with psychiatric disabilities under a probate court order within the past: a) 60 months; or b) 12 months, if the person has a valid permit or certificate in effect before October 1, 2013;
- Beginning October 1, 2013, was voluntarily admitted to a hospital for people with psychiatric disabilities within the past six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol or drug-dependent person;
- Is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm for mental health reasons pursuant to federal law; or
- For handguns only, is illegally in the United States.2
The penalty for violating the above prohibitions is a class C felony.3
No person, firm, or corporation, including any private (unlicensed) seller, may transfer a handgun to an individual until the person, firm or corporation making such transfer obtains an authorization number from the Connecticut Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, who must perform a background check to determine whether the applicant is prohibited from possessing a handgun.4 Any person, firm or corporation wishing to sell a long gun at retail must verify through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection that the transferee is eligible to possess a firearm.5
For details on persons prohibited from obtaining an eligibility certificate for a handgun or a long gun, see the Licensing in Connecticut section.
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- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217(a).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217c(a).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217(b).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-33(c).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37a(d).