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.