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Yes, you can open carry a pistol in Connecticut

And you can responsibly carry a pistol in a bar that serves alcohol, and you can even carry your firearm on college campuses. I thought most of the misconceptions concerning Connecticut state law when it comes to permits and carrying handguns had been squashed, yet some continue to put totally false garbage out there.

I’m not going to speak to any specific case in Connecticut, but I am going to briefly review the completely false comments made here on this blog by “Army Strong” over at this post.

Ongoing Myth: Connecticut law requires handguns be concealed, and furthermore your gun can not be able to “print” and let people know you are carrying a firearm.

Totally false. Connecticut permits are defined as a State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers. There is absolutely no reference to any law concerning concealment or where you can carry on the permit itself. Note, you must have a state permit to carry openly or concealed in Connecticut.

How can I prove this? Well, it’s difficult to prove a negative since laws do not point out what you can do, but there is no statute requiring concealment. That said, the Connecticut Board of Firearms Examiners has posted answers to questions submitted on its website. The answers were provided by Veronica Rose, principal analyst at the Office of Legislative Research. This following is not submitted as legal advice.

Is there any statute prescribing that firearms must be carried concealed?

The answer is no. The law does not address this issue. But, with limited exceptions, it is illegal to carry a handgun, whether concealed or openly, without a permit, except in one’s home or place of business CGS § 29-35(a).

Prior to a 2nd Amendment rally at the Connecticut State Capitol on April 10, 2010, the state police sent out a memo specifically clarifying the law for troopers who would be present at the rally assisting Capitol Police. Unfortunately, it is not signed or dated, and the second page may be missing. In part, it reads.

  • State Police personnel should not arrest a properly permitted individual merely for publicly carrying a handgun in plain view.
  • State Police personnel should not arrest individuals merely for publicly carrying a firearm other than a handgun in plain view
  • State Police personnel should not request individuals to produce their pistol permits unless such individual has become the subject of a law enforcement investigative inquiry for another reason

Even the Hartford Courant posted an article in April 2010 noting it was completely legal to open carry in Connecticut.

A state Superior Court judge dismissed the breach of peace charge police ultimately filed against Goldberg, forcing law enforcement experts to concede that, absent extenuating circumstances, there is nothing in Connecticut law to prohibit licensed gun owners from conducting their lives visibly armed.

Ongoing Myth: You can not carry a handgun in an establishment that serves alcohol.

Totally false. Again, from the same list of questions and answers provided by the Office of Legislative Research.

Is the carrying of a handgun on premises with a posted sign banning firearms critical to a permit revocation decision?

The law is silent on this issue. The pertinent statute reads as follows: “[T]he issuance of a 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” (CGS § 29-28(e)).

In other words, the direct answer to the question is no, there is no law stating you can not carry in a bar. That said, Connecticut State law is clear that you can not be intoxicated – defined as a blood alcohol level of .10 or higher – while carrying a firearm. This is specified in CGS §53-206d and if convicted, it’s a class A misdemeanor.

Ongoing Myth: You are very limited as to where you can carry a firearm.

All in all, we don’t have it too bad in Connecticut. There are specific areas where you can not carry, and they are spelled out in legislation. It should be noted there are some towns – including New Britain and New London – who have town ordinances that ban you from carrying concealed, yet interestingly they do not ban open carry, which again is legal in Connecticut.

You can not carry in or on the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or at a school sponsored activity. (CGS §53a-217b) Note that public and private colleges and universities are not mentioned.

Although I can not site the statutes, (sorry) I believe it is also against the law to carry within the State Capital or where the General Assembly is meeting or at a legislative public hearing. I’m not sure about state forests either. There may be other town or city ordinances concerning carrying in parks.

Federal law states you can not carry in federal facility including post offices, but you can now definitely carry in federal parks, just not the federal facility buildings I would assume.

Of course, if you visit any private residence or business, they do have the right to ban firearms and they can ask you to leave. Carrying in a private residence or business is certainly not illegal, but if you are asked to leave and do not leave, you are subject to a trespass arrest.

Ongoing Myth: You will be charged with breach of peace if you carry openly in Connecticut.

It’s certainly true law enforcement can charge you with breach of peace, but that certainly does not mean you are guilty of it. As a matter of fact, the breach law in Connecticut is very clear and I went into detail about the subject in a Feb. 2008 post. An excerpt…

Here is the class B misdemeanor version (Connecticut statutes):

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.

With reference to the above, can someone let me know where inadvertently exposing your pistol [or open carry] would cause a breach of peace?

All breach charges in Connecticut that I know of were thrown out of court. You can also read the statutes for creating a public disturbance CGS §53a-181a, and disorderly conduct CGS §53a-182 and you will not find any reference to open carry. Again, I’m not a lawyer and I’m not going to go into specific cases.

You can find additional information about this subject around the net, including the Connecticut Citizen Defense League website and the Connecticut section of the OpenCarry.org forums. Add your references in the comments section below.

This post deals almost exclusively content concerning carrying pistols. If you found it interesting and want to learn more, check out my post concerning the feel good Connecticut assault weapons ban that is totally irrational.

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17 Responses to "Yes, you can open carry a pistol in Connecticut"

  1. Dimsdale says:

    We have to carry concealed in MA because the liberals will absolutely freak if they see someone wearing one on the street.  Or Home Depot….

  2. TomL says:

    Thanks for this follow up. I need to go argue debate with someone now

  3. Steve M says:

    There is no need to argue about this subject. The law in Connecticut is quite clear. Best advice is to site specific law in Connecticut and move on. You'd be surprised how many law enforcement officers are unfamiliar with the actual law. I don't blame them, especially since their superiors and NRA instructors have been telling many concealment is required.

  4. TomL says:

    I'm going to an instuctor to debate. Law enforcement will just make an arrest and let the courts straighten it out. Thats why we have the court system.

  5. Steve M says:

    When you say "instructor" I'm assuming you're referring to a NRA instructor and not a law enforcement instructor. I'm hoping at least that the instructors working with law enforcement have gotten the message by now.

  6. Steve M says:

    And, as a stand-alone infraction, it is not at all acceptable for a LEO in Connecticut to arrest someone for breach, disorderly or disturbing the peace if they are walking down the street open carrying … letting the courts figure it out later.

  7. Jeremy In Farmington says:

    Sorry about the cross post in the other thread.  I just meant to correct the misconception that Goldberg was carrying openly. and point out that it was a bit more hairy then "the charges were dropped and police apologized."

    The law certainly does allow open carry, but that doesn't mean you're not going to have plenty of challenges to that right when you choose to exercise it.  I guess my point is; be prepared to have your permit unjustly confiscated if you decide to test this out in the real world, rather then the world that exists in lawyers heads.

    I'm certainly a proponent of carry though.  I'm not sure how I feel about open carry for myself.  I'm sitting the fence between the idea that open carry makes your back a target, vs the idea that open carry provides a more obvious deterrent.

  8. Steve M says:

    No issue Jeremy, I just don't want these threads to get into the open carry or concealed carry debate … that goes nowhere very fast.

    And I agree, if you're going to open carry in a state that is traditionally (not legally) concealed carry, you may have some explaining to do and definitely could get arrested. But as long as you really were not breaking any laws, the charges should be dropped and hopefully the department will be required to pay your legal bills and make a public apology.

  9. Peter says:

    Jim,  which is the best  e-mail address to send things to you??? 

    Peter from Wolcott

  10. Steve M says:

    @Peter … uh, Jim did not write this post and there is a Contact Us link at the top of the page. That is the only way to get a message through. Most other e-mails are ignored. Sorry, but that's how we have to do it since we can not read hundreds of e-mails a day. I'm going to delete your question later in the weekend, since it certainly does not belong in a comments thread about Connecticut firearm laws.

  11. As a long-time permit holder and a certified NRA Basic Pistol Instructor (the Basic course is necessary for CT pistol permit applications), I have carried concealed for many years. My personal policy is to not carry in the open as is seems to attract, for me, unwanted attention. I am glad that this post has enlightened me and maybe some other permit holders to some of the actual CT carry rules; I am sure that there are many others, some arcane and others just common sense. (Yes, I have read the laws — there always seems to be a firearm's reference in another section that is unknown or brand-new.)

    Just a word about common sense. It is no so common. The pistol permit is just that and no more. It is a permit to carry. I have always maintained that open carry brings attention to you. Personally, I just want to go about my business without any unwanted attention..

    I would like to see more people legally carrying their favorite pistol. There are some very comfortable holsters on the market and many do not 'print' as readily as other, older holsters.

    I believe that it was the Marquis de Sade who wrote that, "An armed society is a polite society." The range is one of the most polite places there is.

    The NRA, which helps train police officers, estimates that two million crimes are prevented every year by armed citizens merely displaying a firearm. Criminals are usually not stupid and will back down when confronted by an armed citizen. Nothing like that has ever happened to me. Speaking with people and during the Course, I emphasize that no one should be in a rush to shoot someone.

    The course focuses on basic handgun safety. I have add the defensive part. I have refused to teach individuals who talk about harming someone once they are "permitted." That is not what having a pistol permit is all about; I am seeking to expand the shooting sports. It is a lot of fun and there is absolutely nothing like it — you must concentrate fully on what you are doing, shooting; and, the fact is, you can't transport your pistols and long guns to the range without a pistol permit or, in the case of only rifles and shotguns, a hunting license.

    Stay safe.

  12. Lenny Benedetto says:

    Fantastic Article!

    As the Vice President of CCDL I commend you for getting out the CORRECT information about carrying in Connecticut.

    Anyone looking for more info about carrying in CT or any other firearm laws please check out http://www.ccdl.us
    Membership is FREE!!!

  13. JollyRoger says:

    Should the laws be so murky and loaded that you carry in fear & doubt while some moron who's had his  driver's license suspended 10 times is cruising down the shoulder of I-91 at 80 MPH while arguing with his girlfriend, killing a state trooper… What about going undocumented- like other people do?

  14. OkieJim says:

    @Law-Abiding Citizen. That quote … "an armed society is a polite society" was written by Robert Heinlein in 1942's "Beyond This Horizon". I love the rest of the quote, which goes on to say "Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life".

     

    People who are taught any art of combat have a special responsibility to avoid its use; the more lethal, the greater that responsibility.

  15. jack 4 time says:

    Law-AbidingCitizen said:

    I have always maintained that open carry brings attention to you. Personally, I just want to go about my business without any unwanted attention.

    This topic (whether it's SMART to carry unconcealed) came up last year on Jim's show… and I second Law-AbidingCitizen's philosophy. Carrying CONCEALED in public is simply a safer thing. Possible situation # 1 (unlikely): You're in a place where criminals are about to commit their crime… they see you with a holstered gun, so you're the first casualty. Situation #2: You're strolling the mall and a group/gang of 10 teens comes up to you & vociferously gets in your face… "WTF is that big boy?" etc. But while they're laughing & distracting you, one of them gets behind you & removes your weapon (or they do it after grabbing you). Impossible? LOL! You make yourself a target for such BS, and if you're not trained or gifted enough to deal (verbally) with such situations, you're could find yourself in big trouble.   

    Let's say shots are fired. Let's say they steal your weapon. (or even worse). You are now screwed. Even though you may be legally in the right (letter of the law), you're gonna be in the newspapers, have to pay a lawyer, and get an ulcer. Why would any responsible person put themselves in such a compromising position? Keep in mind that statistic show that people who go thru the permit process have much cleaner records (criminal & violations) than even the police do.   

    A final comment on the (now gone) topic of whether to publish names of people with permits… If the law hasn't changed, I think you don't need any permit to keep a gun in your home. I think you (now) need one to transport it TO your home (from a dealer), but there are people who can do that for ya. You also don't need a permit to keep a long-gun or shotgun… and there's no record of who might have one in their closet. In short, crooks using such a published list for brake-ins… might get a surprise.

  16. Steve M says:

    As I think I've mentioned elsewhere, we're not going to debate concealed versus open carry. Honestly, some could rip apart your argument for concealed carry using the same scenarios you describe and it would go tit for tat for two months. It's a personal preference, at times somewhat bound by the communities culture and let's leave it at that. The other post is available in the archives or via search, just do a search on 'pistol permit' and it comes right up.

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