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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 more detail on private sale background checks, see the Universal Background Checks in Connecticut and Gun Shows in Connecticut sections.

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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  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217(a).[]
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217c(a).[]
  3. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217(b).[]
  4. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-33(c).[]
  5. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37a(d).[]