A challenge for Michael Lawlor, Conn. governor’s undersecretary of criminal justice

On or about Aug. 17, Michael Lawlor, the undersecretary of criminal justice for Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stated that in almost every case he could imagine, carrying a firearm openly in Connecticut would be “almost by definition a breach of peace.” He’s totally wrong.

Mr. Lawlor, have you read the breach of peace statute? Can you please point out what part of the breach of peace law would be violated by a Connecticut pistol permit holder openly carrying a pistol? I’m not talking about brandishing, I’m asking about someone with – as an example – a self-defense pistol being openly carried in a holster.

As a Connecticut citizen, I’m challenging Mr. Lawlor to read this post, complete his own research and publish a complete statement either backing up his own opinion that openly carrying a pistol is breach of peace in Connecticut, or publish an open letter to all law enforcement in the state letting them know openly carrying a firearm in the state is not a breach of peace and those people should not be bothered by law enforcement unless they are subject to a stop for a lawful reason.

Openly carrying an pistol – as a stand-alone event – is not enough justification for a stop. There must be probable cause to think a person is breaking a law, has broken a law or is about to break a law. You know … reasonable suspicion.

From CT News Junkie on Aug. 17.

In Connecticut there is nothing in the law that explicitly prohibits anyone with a valid pistol permit from sauntering down Main Street with a revolver strapped openly to their waist. But the state’s top criminal justice official wouldn’t recommend it.

Unless such a person was walking into a gun club, carrying a firearm openly in Connecticut will almost certainly attract the police and result in a breach of peace charge, said Michael P. Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s undersecretary of criminal justice.

“In almost every situation you can imagine this happening in, it qualifies as breach of peace,” he said. “If you walk into a restaurant with a gun it’s almost by definition a breach of peace.”

That results in an arrest and sets in motion a chain of events that usually results in the revocation of an issued pistol permit, he said. And that’s the way it should be, Lawlor said. Anyone who walks into a McDonalds plainly carrying a firearm either intends to alarm people or is irresponsible, he said.

Again, he’s absolutely incorrect. This is Connecticut’s top criminal justice official? Can Lawlor reference a case where a law-abiding citizen with a permit was going about his day-to-day life and charged with breach of peace for openly carrying a pistol, had his or her permit revoked and did not get it back after appeal? The state can not continue to bully law-abiding citizens, only to have charges thrown out, dismissed and the permit returned after a long wait for no reason at all.

Here is the actual state statute for the “top criminal justice official” to review. The first is a class D felony, and the second is a class B 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 Mr. Lawlor, how you match up openly carrying a self-defense pistol and breach of peace? What did that person do to meet one of the six definitions of the class B misdemeanor?  It’s not “almost by definition” at all buddy.

Let me make this perfectly clear, our Second Amendment rights can not be infringed by someone who feels uncomfortable or feels threatened. I can think of many things someone can do in public that would make other people uncomfortable or feel threatened, feelings can not justify a breach charge.

I can’t figure out why people would be uncomfortable or threatened after seeing a regular person open carrying, while they are perfectly fine when they see a law enforcement officer – who they do not know at all – open carrying. What’s the difference? Does that badge and uniform (that could be fake by the way) have some sort of magical calming effect?

From a previous post, with my emphasis in bold.

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

From the State of Connecticut’s Board of Firearms Permit Examiners website … this is a state government website. My emphasis in bold. I ask Mr. Lawlor, is the class B breach of peace misdemeanor listed here anywhere?

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)).

Does simple exposure of a firearm justify the revocation of a gun permit?

The law does not provide an exhaustive list of permit revocation criteria. Rather, it allows revocation for cause. It requires revocation upon the permit holder’s conviction for a felony or any of 11 specified misdemeanors. It also requires revocation upon any grounds on which a permit would have been denied. This includes a finding that the applicant (1) is not suitable (which the law does not define) to receive a permit or (2) does not want the handguns for lawful purposes. The law does not define suitability, and it does not provide standards for making the determination (see BACKGROUND).

The 11 misdemeanors for which a permit must be revoked are:

  1. criminally negligent homicide (excluding deaths caused by motor vehicles) (CGS § 53a-58);
  2. third-degree assault (CGS § 53a-61);
  3. third-degree assault of a blind, elderly, pregnant, or mentally retarded person (CGS § 53a-61a);
  4. second-degree threatening (CGS § 53a-62);
  5. first-degree reckless endangerment (CGS § 53a-63);
  6. second-degree unlawful restraint (CGS § 53a-96);
  7. first-degree riot (CGS § 53a-175);
  8. second-degree riot (CGS § 53a-176);
  9. inciting to riot (CGS § 53a-178);
  10. second-degree stalking (CGS § 53a-181d); and
  11. first offense involving possession of (a) controlled or hallucinogenic substances (other than a narcotic substance or marijuana) or (b) less than four ounces of a cannabis-type substance (CGS § 21a-279(c)).

The other grounds on which the permit issuing authority must deny and revoke a permit are that the person:

  1. is an illegal alien;
  2. is under age 21;
  3. failed to successfully complete a firearm safety and use course approved by the commissioner;
  4. was discharged from custody in the preceding 20 years after a finding of not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect;
  5. was confined by the probate court to a mental hospital in the 12 months before applying for a permit or certificate;
  6. was convicted of a serious juvenile offense;
  7. is subject to a firearm seizure order issued after notice and a hearing;
  8. is prohibited under federal law from possessing or shipping firearms because he or she was adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution (except in cases where the Treasury Department grants relief); and
  9. is under a protective or restraining order for using or threatening to use force and in the case of possession, he or she knows about the order and if the order was issued in-state, he or she was notified and given a hearing opportunity (CGS §§ 29-28 and 29-32).
6 replies
  1. Vizionmusic
    Vizionmusic says:

    Bravo..Bravo…BRAVO! Well written and a totally accurate assessing of facts! The FACT is, Connecticut is a disgustingly ( embarrassingly ) LIBERAL state and it shows in such ignorant statements such as by Michael P. Lawlor. Not only do our Police lack training in the ‘proper’ way to deal with a ‘permit holder’ on things such as traffic stops etc, but look who they have as an EXAMPLE!? The head guy who doesn’t know, understand or correctly interprets the law! Geese!

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    Michael Lawlor has a significant mental incapacity himself, and because of this disability should be relieved of his position. ?How can a liberal sit in judgement of any of our Constitutional freedoms? ?They’re simply not competent to form credible arguments regarding such. ?Our state government is such a screwed up mess, much like the Obama abortion in DC. ?I oft times wonder if we’ll ever get this ‘train of state’ back on track! ??

  3. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    Most cops prefer to ignore it whenever they feel like it. The GPD in that Goldberg case & mine here by the HPD. They’ll even perjure themselves & create some phony charge. Lawlor is just proving that he is just as stupid & just as free of any reprisals for his words & actions.

  4. JBS
    JBS says:

    Like many liberals and progressives, Mr. Lawlor proves that he is not only above the law, he can interpret the law in a manner that pleases him. He knows what the law really means. Regardless of what the written law says, somehow, Mr. Lawlor can divine the spirit of the law. He knows what is written between the lines; he knows what the legislature really meant when the law was crafted.
    It seems that Mr. Lawlor doesn’t want citizens to be armed. (I’m sure he doesn’t!)
    Perhaps he is trying to make the environment safe for his newly released felons??
    Just what is the relationship with Lawlor and the newly released cons? Friends? Union payoffs? Make work for the half-way houses? Referrals for counselors? What?

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