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 they:1
- Have been convicted of a felony (with limited exceptions) or, on or after October 1, 2013, certain violent or intimidating misdemeanors;
- Have been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense;2
- Have been convicted of a misdemeanor family violence crime committed on or after October 1, 2023;
- Have been discharged from custody within the preceding 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to mental disease or defect under state law;
- Have been confined in a mental hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding year by order of a probate court;
- Are 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;
- Are subject to a firearms seizure order, issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard;
- Were 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;
- Were voluntarily admitted, or were committed under an emergency certificate by a doctor on or after October 1, 2023, 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;
- Are prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm for mental health reasons pursuant to federal law;
- Effective October 1, 2023, are a fugitive from justice or have been been convicted in any court of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as defined under federal law;3 or
- For handguns only, are illegally in the United States.4
The penalty for violating the above prohibitions is a class C felony.5
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.6 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.7
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), 53-217c(a).
- Connecticut law permits disclosure of juvenile court records to municipal, state or federal agencies involved in evaluating the proposed transfer of a firearm to someone under age 21. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-124(d).
- See 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(2), (g)(9).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217c(a).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-217(b).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-33(c).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37a(d).