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Connecticut reminder – it’s not illegal to carry a firearm on a college campus … or is it?

There is some serious mis-information floating around concerning the arrest of a University of New Haven commuter student yesterday. First, from the information we have been provided so far, he did not break any state law.

Update at bottom of post. Also keep in mind this is an opinion site, and should not be construed as official legal advice. Read the comments for more information.

Since the suspect had a Connecticut pistol permit, he was allowed to carry openly and concealed. There is no permit required to carry a rifle in Connecticut. That said, there most likely is a student code of conduct that precludes students from carrying any firearms on school property. Therefore, the student could be subject to administrative punishment, suspension or expulsion as deemed by the school, but there are no criminal charges here at all unless additional information is being withheld. Let’s read Connecticut Statute Sec. 53a-217b, with my emphasis.

Possession of a weapon on school grounds: Class D felony. (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.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm (1) by a person for use in a program approved by school officials in or on such school property or at such school-sponsored activity, (2) by a person in accordance with an agreement entered into between school officials and such person or such person’s employer, (3) by a peace officer, as defined in subdivision (9) of section 53a-3, while engaged in the performance of such peace officer’s official duties, or (4) by a person while traversing such school property for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting or for other lawful purposes, provided such firearm is not loaded and the entry on such school property is permitted by the local or regional board of education.

(c) Possession of a weapon on school grounds is a class D felony.

The law is specific to elementary and secondary schools. That covers everything up through high school. The law as written excludes higher, post-secondary, tertiary or third level education … that’s college.

Want to try for a Breach of Peace charge in Connecticut? There is a felony and misdemeanor version. The Central Connecticut State University student was also charged with Breach of Peace in early November after the Halloween costume incident. So, what did these guys do that qualify for a breach charge? It’s obvious the felony version (53a-180aa) doesn’t work, so how about the misdemeanor?

Sec. 53a-180aa. Breach of the peace in the first degree: Class D felony. (a) A person is guilty of breach of the peace in the first degree when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person places a nonfunctional imitation of an explosive or incendiary device or an imitation of a hazardous substance in a public place or in a place or manner likely to be discovered by another person.

(b) For the purposes of this section: (1) “Hazardous substance” means any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance or matter which, because of its quantity, concentration or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics, may cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness, or pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health, and (2) “public place” means any area that is used or held out for use by the public whether owned or operated by public or private interests.

(c) Breach of the peace in the first degree is a class D felony.

===

Sec. 53a-181. Breach of the peace in the second degree: Class B misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of breach of the peace in the second degree when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person: (1) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior in a public place; or (2) assaults or strikes another; or (3) threatens to commit any crime against another person or such other person’s property; or (4) publicly exhibits, distributes, posts up or advertises any offensive, indecent or abusive matter concerning any person; or (5) in a public place, uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture; or (6) creates a public and hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which such person is not licensed or privileged to do. For purposes of this section, “public place” means any area that is used or held out for use by the public whether owned or operated by public or private interests.

(b) Breach of the peace in the second degree is a class B misdemeanor.

So, can someone tell me how what these guys did violates Sec. 53a-181? These guys might lack common sense, but that’s not against the law.

How about leaving the rifle in the car? How about Sec. 53a-217a, Criminally negligent storage of a firearm?

Sec. 53a-217a. Criminally negligent storage of a firearm: Class D felony. (a) A person is guilty of criminally negligent storage of a firearm when he violates the provisions of section 29-37i and a minor obtains the firearm and causes the injury or death of himself or any other person. For the purposes of this section, “minor” means any person under the age of sixteen years.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not apply if the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry to any premises by any person.

(c) Criminally negligent storage of a firearm is a class D felony.

That doesn’t work either. Keeping in mind this case is less than 24 hours old and we have limited information so far, there is no broken law here.

The “we have to charge them with something” attitude does not originate with law enforcement, rather it is forced upon us by local and state politicians, along with the media who hype these stories. If law enforcement does not set an original charge, politicians will freak out. If the story remains the same as currently told by the media, the charges will probably be dropped by the prosecutor.

Update: As mentioned a couple of times in this post, information can change. At this time, the Hartford Courant is saying the suspect will be charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon and “illegal transport of an assault weapon, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle.”

This means law enforcement got the warrant to search the car.

This could mean the rifle he had in the car was fully-automatic (extremely unlikely) or more likely it had too many “evil” cosmetic features like an adjustable stock and/or a flash hider; which does not “hide” the flash by the way. I’m thinking he also could have had magazines in the car with more than 10 rounds inserted? Who knows at this point.

Update 2: The student definitely did break a couple laws if what has been reported is true.

  • Accused had multiple rifle and/or pistol magazines that were loaded with more than 10 rounds. (Stupid law, but it is the current law)
  • The rifle had a collapsable stock. Again, stupid law, but that’s one of the features you can’t have on a Connecticut-approved rifle.

I’m not at all concerned about the 2,700 rounds of ammo he had. Not unusual, especially since you can easily shoot 1,000 rounds in a two-day training session.

I am curious about his mental state.

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19 Responses to "Connecticut reminder – it’s not illegal to carry a firearm on a college campus … or is it?"

  1. Murphy says:

    This is Corrupticut , since when do laws matter?

  2. ricbee says:

    I’m hoping this kid was just trying to lure the cops in doing something stupid,like they did & now will sue their pensions away.

  3. I think that he is in violation of the law CGS 29-28e  when he carries the handgun on campus. This states that where the owner/manager of the property prohibits the carry of firearms the person is in violation. This is punishable by  3 years in prison, $1,000 fine, and loss of permit and firearm. 

    • I’m sorry it is $500 fine.
       Sec. 29-37. Penalties. (a) Any person violating any provision of section 29-28 or 29-31 shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than three years or both, and any pistol or revolver found in the possession of any person in violation of any of said provisions shall be forfeited.

  4. The title of this post is totally misleading.  Obviously people should not take legal advice from this site, but you are spreading false information. According to this site, http://www.armedcampuses.org/connecticut/  there are no campuses that allow firearms. 

    • I’m willing to revise my post, but I can not find CGS 29-28e. Can you provide a direct link? Also, that armedcampuses.org site specifically states “Connecticut has no specific law regarding the limitations of concealed firearms on college and university campuses”

  5. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap529.htm#Sec29-28.htm
    Again, where you reference the armedcampuses.org site, you extract the most misleading part of the site and fail to reference the very next paragraph which states “As of August 21, 2013, no public or private university permits concealed guns on campus grounds or in buildings.” 

    where the owner prohibits, it is ILLEGAL..   

    • ricbee says:

      I wouldn’t think that a college could pass actual laws. But in Corrupticut anything is possible.

    • We’ll agree to disagree. You pulled out the part of that site (not a legal reference) and I don’t disagree that it probably is a code of conduct violation, but I do not believe it is against Connecticut state law.

      I appreciate the link to this section …  (e) The issuance of any permit to carry a pistol or revolver does not thereby authorize the possession or carrying of a pistol or revolver in any premises where the possession or carrying of a pistol or revolver is otherwise prohibited by law or is prohibited by the person who owns or exercises control over such premises.

      As I read that, I’d consider it as guidance when it comes to areas not specifically prohibited by law, but would be interested in hearing from the state as to their interpretation. Let’s say a mall has a “no guns” sign in Connecticut. As I understand it, that’s not enforceable by law, but the person can definitely be asked to leave and if he or she does not – or they leave and return – they can be criminally charged with trespass.

      • We can disagree, but you are irresponsibly spreading your opinion (not backed by any statute) as fact. Though technically true, there is no statute that specifically prohibits firearms on college campuses, the effective result of the statute that I post does prohibit firearms on campuses.   So you can say that there is no specific law that prohibits speeding in a Toyota and you are technically correct. But there are speeding laws that prohibit this action.

      • lpalshaw says:

        Steve as a retired police officer, if I responded to a complaint from any property owner about a person carrying a gun on property that had been properly posted that guns were not allowed, a notice in a student manual would constitute proper posting for a student. I would make the arrest for violating 29-28e. I would also request the State Police revoke the permit. I suspect the Firearms Review Board would uphold the revocation. I have appeared before the Board a number of times. I won most of the time. Its too bad the Review Board’s web site does not give more information about the arguments in their decisions.

    • Also about that other non-legal site. Let’s agree to completely disregard what they say. It does not help your point or my point. You say it’s against the law and point to that site as a reference, but they clearly state there is “no specific law…” Either there is, or is not a law.

      • I found this in an interpretation of the law by the state earlier this year. I know there has been many instances where people have been asked to leave because of having a gun on them, but I don’t know of anyone charged for it (I’ve looked).

         

        If someone walks onto a college campus, is not a student, and is carrying will they or can they be charged under 29-28(e)? Has anyone been convicted or charged? How are they to be notified? Do they have to be notified? I think it’s possible to assume students were notified via the code of conduct, and if caught after notification they could be charged with “carrying a handgun where prohibited.”

         

        Carrying Handguns where Prohibited. People are barred from possessing or carrying handguns on any premises where prohibited by law or by the person who owns or exercises control over the premises (CGS § 29-28(e)). A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to three years, or both, and forfeiture of any handgun found in the violator’s possession (CGS § 29-37).

      • I am not sure how else to explain this, if you don’t understand how this statute covers this condition then you don’t understand, I hope people read the comments in addition to the headline.

      • Your browser may have cached the headline, but I did change it just under one hour ago.

      • I’m glad you change the headline and post. It was the right thing to do.

  6. The college did not pass any law, where you see that a college passed any law?

  7. noreen2013 says:

    It is clearly illegal.  There is No doubt

    • bien-pensant says:

      Way to go, Noreen. When the whole issue is ambiguous, play it with the “It’s Illegal” card.
      Are you running for a democrat legislator spot in 2014? You’d fit right in with the “we gotta do something” crowd and “there oughta be a law” bunch.

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