I do not have a restraining order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?
Possibly not. Even if you do not have a restraining order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of any crime, it can still be illegal for him/her to have a gun under the following circumstances. It is illegal under Connecticut state law for a person to possess (have) a firearm or ammunition if any of the following are true:
- s/he has been discharged from custody within the past 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect;
- s/he has been confined on or after October 1, 2013, in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the past 5 years by order of a probate court (or if the person already has a valid permit or certificate to carry firearms, it is unlawful to have a firearm if s/he has been confined in such hospital within the past twelve months);
- s/he has been voluntarily admitted on or after October 1, 2013, to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities or within the past six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability (for reasons other than - or in addition to - being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person); or
- s/he has been adjudicated as a "mental defective" or has been committed to a mental institution (and therefore is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm under the federal law 18 USC 922(g)(4)).*
In addition, a person can be denied a certificate to carry a revolver or pistol if any of the following are true:
- s/he meets any of the conditions listed in numbers 1-4 above;
- s/he is under age 21;
- s/he is an "alien" who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
- a judge ordered that his/her firearms be seized for the reasons explained in the paragraph below.*1
Under Connecticut law, if a state's attorney or any two police officers believe that a person who possesses one or more firearms poses a risk of immediate personal injury to himself/herself or to others, the state's attorney or police officers can ask a judge to issue a warrant to seize all firearms and ammunition from that person.*2 In determining whether or not to issue this warrant, the judge can consider: (1) recent threats or acts of violence by such person directed toward other persons or toward himself/herself; and (2) recent acts of cruelty to animals.*3 After a hearing (in which the person has a right to defend himself/herself), the judge could order that the guns and ammunition be seized (taken) and held for up to one year.*4 If you have involvement with a police officer or state’s attorney due to an incident with the abuser, you may want to ask him/her about this option.
If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Staying Safe page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the CT Advocates and Shelters page.
For additional information on gun laws in Connecticut, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.
* C.G.S.A. § 53a-217(a)
*1 C.G.S.A § 29-36f
*2 C.G.S.A. § 29-38c(a)
*3 C.G.S.A. § 29-38c(b)
*4 C.G.S.A. § 29-38c(d)