Connecticut should not make pistol permit information available to public

Connecticut state law does not allow pistol permit records to be available to the public. Many states do allow this information to be released, and some media outlets – in a drive to increase page views – have published the full databases including private information simply because it’s “public record.”

Yeah, right.

Susan Campbell in the Hartford Courant today asks the question if gun permit information should be private. Although written as a news item, I think her post borders on commentary but that’s par for the course. The argument for the mass public release of the information is oddly vague and incoherent.

She references the fact-finding mission of Allan Minter, who has been tracking gun crimes that involved multiple victims for some unknown reason. Supposedly, one of Minter’s quests is to try to figure out why Omar Thorton killed eight after being asked to resign from Hartford Distributors for stealing.

Minter is looking for answers, but news coverage has waned, and now Minter is filling in the blanks from afar. Namely: Did Thornton go to pistol ranges? If so, did he go more frequently right before the mayhem?

Oddly, here’s something Minter can’t confirm: Did Thornton have a permit for his guns? Connecticut law keeps confidential the names and addresses of people issued an eligilibility [sic] certificate for a pistol or revolver. Under some circumstances, the information can be released only to law enforcement officials (as it appears to have been in Thornton’s case), or the public safety commissioner, or mental health and addiction services commissioner.

Campbell may not know the difference between a Connecticut eligibility certificate and a Connecticut State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers, but she should know that within three or four hours, the news media seemed to have not only released the fact Thorton had a pistol permit, but detailed what pistols he owned and where he purchased them from.

Of course, they also posted information suggesting Thorton used a .223 caliber rifle which seems to have come from a reporter’s imagination, but that is beside the point.

Having access to the Connecticut pistol permit records certainly would not provide any additional information as to why Thorton killed eight, nor would information concerning the man’s range habits provide any insight. This information gathering after the fact, is good for just that … gathering information after the fact.

Is Campbell or Minter suggesting all range time be logged in some state database and made public record? Maybe if you go shooting three days in a row an e-mail blast should be sent to your neighbors, family and co-workers with a heads-up.

Campbell then mentions soon-to-be ex-wives have called the State Police asking if their soon-to-be ex-husband has a pistol permit. If the wife – or anyone – is concerned enough to call the State Police with that type of request, maybe she should be discussing a protection order or make a formal complaint to the cops. Either of those requests should automatically trigger an investigation by law enforcement.

Many states have recently banned the release of this information, referencing privacy and security concerns. Campbell continues, with my emphasis in bold.

While making the permit process more stringent, the [1994 Connecticut] law removed from the public record information about people who made it through the process. Talk at the time centered on safety and privacy, with this odd logic: If the particulars of permit-holders were made public, their homes would be targets for robbers, although one would think knowledge that a neighbor has a gun or guns would make that neighbor’s house a less attractive option for a break-in.

Odd logic? If that is odd logic, how about the fact criminals could use the same information to confirm homes they target are not protected by owners who have firearms permits? The perceived danger for homeowners works both ways, and I prefer to keep the criminals guessing.

How about abused spouses who are hiding from abusers and have chosen to protect their own lives by installing security lights, locking doors and windows, installing a security system and owning a firearm as a last defense at home and when traveling about? I’m certain those pushing for the mass-release of these state databases would come up with some sort of waiver to protect their identities and locations … their privacy and safety is – of course – very important. The rest of us … not so much.

Campbell mentions the “people who made it through the process.” Is she even familiar with the process? In her post, she seems to imply these good citizens must be watched more carefully and have their information available online at a newspaper’s website – probably tied to a user-friendly Google map – because they could be dangerous!

Those who apply choose to go through a process involving finger prints, local police interviews, applications, FBI background checks, high fees and even neighbor interviews. I’ll take the odds every time betting those residents are the good guys I don’t have to be all that concerned with.

Articles like these are about two goals of – what I refer to as – the anti-gun media crowd. First, continue and extend the stereotype that guns are bad and gun people are a strange lot who must be monitored. Second is the simple capitalist goal to increase page views with a paranoia-induced gossip-creating web application.

Posted in

Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. TomL on September 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Never mind the fact that there are people with permits that have no weapons.

  2. scottm on September 1, 2010 at 8:44 am

    From what I understand Omar Thornton had a gun permit, if so that is one of the extremely rare instances of gun crime committed by someone with a legal permit.  It makes no sence whatsoever to have a public database of permit holders when the vast majority are law-abiding citizens.

  3. TomL on September 1, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Scott I agree, does that scare you. LOL 

  4. Dimsdale on September 1, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Concealed carry isn't so concealed if everyone knows you are carrying.  Don't such revelations open the permit holders to burglaries by those that might want to steal the guns?  Doesn't the printing of the names remove the benefit of the doubt that non gun owners enjoy?


    We can't tap the phones of suspected terrorists, but we can publish the names and addresses of those who carry.  Sheesh!

  5. GdavidH on September 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Come on people. This is simply another way for liberals and the liberal media to intrude into your life. Another way to intimidate the law abiding citizenry. There is no logical argument for releasing these records to the public.

     Consider this…

    Knowledge of any kind is power. Maybe the criminal will find out you own a gun and your neighbor doesn't. He decides he'll wait until your not home to break in and steal your weapon and then go next door to terrorize and rob your neighbor.

      Knowledge is power…especially to those who would wield it.

  6. porschepete on September 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    If concealed carry permits become public record what's to stop them criminalizing

    ownership?and criminalizing the gun owner. The liberals are so afaraid of guns. Guns are nothing but a tool 

    I have a permit and I don't have a hand gun so what's that all about? 

  7. Steve M on September 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Additional points concerning WHY anti-gun activists propose this kind of crap. If you are a 20-something female who lives alone and wants a pistol at home for protection, you'd need a Connecticut eligibility certificate or a pistol permit.

    Due to the stigma assigned – without reason – to gun owners, she may have friends who regularly chastise gun owners for being freaks … she may be "shamed" into not taking additional steps to protect herself since she would not want her permit information public.

    Anti-gun groups are perfectly fine with that approach. I'm not.

    What about an employer with a completely unreasonable hatred for firearms and their owners? (They exist) You can BET these managers would be checking these online databases just as they do now with Facebook MySpace and LinkedIn. In California, that manager may even take a look to see if the prospective employee supported Prop 8 (in 2008).

    Little good can come of this approach.

  8. TomL on September 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Well said Steve

  9. Dimsdale on September 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I think anti gunners would be better off putting "no guns here" signs in front of their houses instead of virtual signs in front of law abiding gun owners houses.  Maybe "I'm unarmed" t-shirts?  Just to make it a bit more personal.



  10. chris-os on September 2, 2010 at 4:02 am

    "odd logic: If the particulars of permit-holders were made public, their homes would be targets for robbers"

    Appears logical to me. I mean, who would be drawn to this database but criminals?

    By making the data base available individuals can be targeted and patterned to see when they are not around to defend their property. Making gun thefts easier isn't in the interest of public safety. It is irresponsible.

  11. Law-AbidingCitizen on September 2, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Publishing the names and addresses of concealed carry permit holders is a VERY BAD IDEA on many levels.As noted above, revealing the names of permit holders has the potential to make them targets for theft, burglary and false accusations. It would most certainly be an anti-gun individual or group who would benefit most from this ill-considered scheme.

    Regarded globally, this proposal is not in the overall public interest.

  12. Wayne SW on September 2, 2010 at 4:18 am

    There is not a concealed carry law in the state of Conn.  It does not exist.  Those of you who keep referring to it just don't know the facts.

    Perhaps JimV will invite Martha Dean, candidate for Attorney General on his show to discuss this topic.  Even the far left wing liberal, State Rep. Lawlor has admitted that there is no concealed carry law in the this state.

    A person was arrested at Chili's Rest. a few years ago for having an open holstered permited hand gun on his side.  Charges were dropped and the police later apologized.  Know the law!

  13. Wayne SW on September 2, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Just one more note, a person does not need to have a pistol permit to be in possession of a pistol in their home in this state.  That same person can legally transport that pistol to and from a gun shop without a permit.

  14. GdavidH on September 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    chris-os…..Read my post above. We actually agree on this.

  15. Dimsdale on September 3, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Wayne: My apologies re: the concealed carry issue.  I don't live in CT.  In MA, we have concealed carry.

  16. Army Strong on September 3, 2010 at 7:03 am

    [Edited by Admin] The following information provided by the commenter "Army Strong" is <del datetime="2010-09-03T16:50:19+00:00">mostly</del> completely WRONG when it comes to Connecticut firearms law. This type of ignorance of the law is disturbing, but the fact Army Strong elects to supposedly quoting rules "written on the permit" and within some sort of non-existent "permit hand book" and pass himself off as some sort of expert is downright idiotic. I've written a post refuting Army Strong's comments.[/End Edit]

    Wayne:  If there is a "No Concealed" law in conn, and the person was carrying an open Holstered Hand Gun on his side, that was permitted, wouldn't one think that the law enforcement Officers affecting the arrest, would know the "Laws" that they have been trained to uphold, and would not have arreseted the person carrying the hand gun, therefore having to apologize afterwards????? , this doesn't make any sense to me . I have a Permitt to carry a hand gun, and I have read the rules that pertain to lawfully carrying one in connecticut. First off, it clearly states that you can not carry a hand gun in a resturarant where "Alcohol" is being served !, so this guy was in violation right there, and he should have been arrested, and his permitt revoked right there on the spot.  Secondly!, when you are carrying a hand gun, by state rules book, it must be done in a way that does not show any outline or tells others around you that you may have a "Gun" on you!  It must be completely concealed. The only people in this state that can carry in the open, are Police, or Security guards and Amored Car Attendents, and it is clearly stated on the carry permitt!   So your not telling the whole story here, Read the State of Conn Carry Permitt holders hand book. You as a carry holder are very limited as to where you can carry in this state and where you can not. Just because you hold a permitt does not give you the expressed written right to carry anywhere you want within the borders of this state.  If you are going to make a statement like this to the public, then tell the whole story and not just a 1/4 part of it. I would hope that Jim would get Ms. Dean on here, so she can lay this out for everybody , and do it accurately!  There's More Places you can not go with a hand gunpermitt in this state, then Places you can go. If you are going anywhere and everywhere with your hand gun, then you are in violation of the state's requirements, and your permitt should be revoked .  OH!, and one more thing here, you try and go into a Gun store and buy a handgun and then walk out of there without producing a carry permitt, and see how far you get, you wouldn't make it to the  door!. You can not even buy "Ammo" without showing them a permitt. Where are you getting your supposed facts from???

  17. Murphy on September 3, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Hey Chris-os that might actually reduce the number of robbers in the state.  😎

  18. Jeremy In Farmington on September 3, 2010 at 11:23 am

    A person was arrested at Chili’s Rest. a few years ago for having an open holstered permitted hand gun on his side.  Charges were dropped and the police later apologized.  Know the law!

    Actually, the case is very illustrative of the misconceptions surrounding firearms law in CT, and how knowing the law is little defense against cops that don't.  I took my mandatory NRA safety course at Hoffman and this is one of the cases they used to illustrate just how easy it is to lose your permit unjustly.

    1. The person was a permit holder on his way home from work. 

    2. He was carrying concealed.

    3. The police were called by a waitress to simply inquire about carry law because she noticed the tip of his holster as she passed him outside the restaurant while he was seated, and waiting for his take out order.

    4. The Glastonbury police arrived, pinned him to a wall, confiscated his firearm, and his permit.

    5. He was charged with breach of peace.

    6. The case was dismissed by a judge who ruled the police had no cause to detain or confiscate his firearm or permit.

    7. With a court order in his hand the return of his permit was still refused. 

    8. It took 2 years for the firearm permit appeals board to hear his case and force the state police to return his permit.

    No matter what the law says, it may not get you anywhere to argue with a law enforcement officer when they often times aren't even comfortable handling their own weapons, let alone those of the people they are sworn to protect.

  19. Steve M on September 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Let's not let this thread get off topic. I've got a new post up discussing Connecticut firearms law, and we covered the Goldberg case with two posts back in 2008.


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