Concealment and the Second Amendment

For those who may be interested, there has been some action on the pistol permit front in the state of Connecticut. I won’t say that argument has been heated, but let’s say that some parties on both sides seem a bit “head-strong” in their opinions. I am not directly or indirectly involved with any of this.

As a baseline, I’d like to remind readers about the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

With that said, let’s review what Connecticut’s Constitution has to say about a citizens right to bear arms. The subject is covered in section 15 of the first article. It is quite clear:

Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

In June of 2008 2007, James Goldberg, a Connecticut resident with a valid state pistol permit, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of breach of peace at a restaurant in Glastonbury, Conn.

Without adding any commentary on my part, here is a scan of the police report and here is Goldberg’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

In short, an employee saw Goldberg’s pistol while he was waiting to pick up some take out food, called law enforcement, and started to move people away from him. When police arrived, they too saw the holstered weapon and arrested him for breach of peace.

The misdemeanor charge was dropped about a month later, but Goldberg had his pistol confiscated and destroyed, had to pay a $500 fine and they took his permit. At the time Goldberg had to wait – 22 months – for a hearing with the civilian firearms review board responsible for handling pistol permit appeals.

There is a lot of misinformation concerning if, in fact, a pistol must be concealed. Many NRA trainers and law enforcement types are telling people it is the law; they must conceal their weapon. In fact, it is not the law, but guidelines that were formerly posted – and now removed – by the Board of Firearms Permit Examiner indicated it was the law.

oldberg’s suit in U.S. District Court highlights the issue. From what I understand, he thought that his pistol was concealed, but it was not. I guess an analogy could be walking out of the restroom without zipping up – everyone notices but you.

What is Breach of Peace?
Goldberg was arrested on this charge – the class B misdemeanor version – which was later dropped. This legislation is frequently used as one of those “catch-all” type of laws to arrest people who bother other people and can be kind of vague. 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 would cause a breach of peace? Law enforcement may reference section six, but Goldberg was licensed to carry a pistol.

As a matter of fact, a case for breach could be made against the employee of the restaurant who started moving people away from Goldberg, causing considerable stress and maybe even a possible panic among patrons.

To address situations like Goldberg’s, the Connecticut Department of Public Safety drafted up some ideas, that are not part of the 2008 legislative package. I’ve highlighted the areas of note.

New Statute Concerning Carrying a Pistol or Revolver Concealed:
(NEW) Carrying a pistol or revolver concealed. Exceptions. Penalties. (Effective October 1, 2008):

  1. Any person carrying a pistol or revolver, pursuant to the provisions of section 29-35, shall conceal such pistol or revolver and shall behave in a prudent and responsible manner so as not to cause alarm.
  2. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the carrying of any pistol or revolver by any parole officer or peace officer of this state, or parole officer or peace officer of any other state while engaged in the pursuit of official duties, or any current or retired law enforcement officer qualified and annually certified under the provisions of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, 18 USC 926B and 926C, or federal marshal or federal law enforcement agent, or to any member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined by section 27-103, or of this state, as defined by section 27-2, when such member of the armed forces is on duty or going to or from duty.
  3. Any person who violates any provision of subsection (a) of this section shall: (1) For conviction of a first offense, (A) be fined not less than five hundred dollars or more than two thousand dollars, and (B) be imprisoned not more than one year; and (2) for a subsequent conviction of this offense, (A) be fined not less than two thousand dollars or more than five thousand dollars, and (B) be imprisoned not more than five years.

There are five (5) changes or additions proposed by DPS that were obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

  1. Changing the blood alcohol level from .10 to .08 while carrying a weapon.
  2. Increasing from 8 to 12 weeks the time to issue a permit
  3. Annual firearms refresher training for Bail Enforcement Agents
  4. A requirement that 30 days notice be given DPS for Gun Shows.
  5. An exception to carrying a Facsimile firearm etc. for those involved with a state certified production company.

I don’t like this legislation at all, in an attempt to clarify the current law they suggest going overboard, clearly attempting to criminalize gun owners.

By requiring concealment, they open up a can of worms. Who determines the violation? What if a pistol owner is transferring their weapon from their holster to a lock box in their car and someone sees the pistol transfer? (This would be required of permit holders when entering gun-free (target rich) zones.)

What if someone doesn’t like you and knows that you carry concealed. Could they just call law enforcement and tell them that you saw a gun in a holster on that person and have them arrested?

I’m not certain what the solution is, but when you have a certain percentage of the population that totally freak out when they even see a gun magazine, let alone a Sig P229R DAK or a Glock 19, we’ve got a different sort of problem.

Those people have been brainwashed to think that these inanimate objects will frequently jump off a table – or out of a holster – and fire a round off for the heck of it. That would be the issue to solve.

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