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Connecticut Governor Signs Three New Gun Bills into Law

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Earlier this week, Governor Lamont of Connecticut signed three bills into new gun laws. Two of the laws address the “safe storage” of firearms and the third looks to regulate homemade firearms.

HB 7218 prohibits a person from keeping a loaded firearm on any premise under their control, such as their home, if they know or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without permission, someone living in the home is prohibited from possessing firearms or someone living in the home poses a risk to themselves or others. That general prohibition on maintaining a loaded firearm in the home does not apply if the firearm is kept locked in a safe or a location the owner reasonably believes would deny access to the firearm, if they carry the firearm on their person, or the firearm is within their immediate control. 

The new law imposes strict liability for violations, which are a Class D felony. Connecticut punishes those with 1-5 years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine. However, the law specifically states that if a minor were to obtain the firearm as the result of an unlawful entry, the criminal penalty would not apply. The law also requires the State Board of Education to develop guides for local school boards to use for firearm safety programs for kids in kindergarten to 12th grade. The law does not mandate that a school offer a firearms safety program, but gives them the option should they choose to do so. 

HB 7223 makes it unlawful for any person to store a handgun in their unattended vehicle, unless it's in the trunk, a locked safe, or a locked glove box. The law defines unattended to include when no one over the age of 21 is in the vehicle or close enough to it to prevent unauthorized entry. The term “trunk” is also defined. It means the fully enclosed and locked main storage or luggage compartment of a motor vehicle that is not accessible from the passenger compartment, or a locked toolbox or utility box attached to the bed of a pickup truck. Those who have a station wagon, SUV, or crossover would be relegated to using the safe or glove box option in order to avoid penalties. 

The law gives a court discretion to suspend prosecution for violations if finds that a violation was not of a serious nature and that the person charged 1) will probably not offend in the future, 2) has not previously been convicted of a violation (of this law), and (3) has not previously had a prosecution (of this law), or (4) was charged because of facts or circumstances accurately reported by the person to an organized local police department concerning a lost or stolen firearm.

The penalty for a first violation of this safe storage provision is a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a fine up to $2,000. Second or subsequent violations are Class D felonies.

HB 7219, entitled “An Act Concerning Ghost Guns,” prohibits an individual from completing a firearm without obtaining a unique serial number or other mark of identification from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection within 30 days of completion and engraving it in a manner that conforms with the requirements imposed under federal law.

The law also prohibits a person from aiding or abetting the manufacture of a firearm by a person or for a person who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. It also makes it unlawful to aid or abet the manufacture of a type of firearm that is prohibited by law. As was the case with HB7223, if a court finds that a violation is not of a serious nature and that the person charged 1) will probably not offend in the future, 2) has not previously been convicted of a violation (of this section), and (3) has not previously had a prosecution suspended (of this section), the court may suspend the prosecution.

The law also bans the manufacture of undetectable firearms, like the famed non-existent Glock 7 from Die Hard. 

Luggage? That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It's a porcelain gun made in Germany. It doesn't show up on your airport X-ray machines here and it costs more than what you make in a month!―John McClane

It is now also unlawful to purchase, receive, sell, deliver or otherwise transfer an unfinished frame or lower receiver unless it has been given a serial number and is transferred in the same manner as your typical handgun.

Violations are a Class C felony for which two years of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court, and five thousand dollars of the fine imposed may not be reduced unless the court states on the record its reasons for reducing the fine. That violation becomes a Class B felony if the person knows that the unfinished frame or lower receiver is stolen or that the manufacturer's number or other mark of identification on such unfinished frame or lower receiver has been altered, removed or obliterated.

Lastly, on and after October 1, 2019, unless a person is not prohibited, it will be unlawful to possess an unfinished frame or lower receiver in Connecticut.

About the Author

Adam Kraut is a firearms law attorney practicing in southeastern PA and across the country federally. He hosts The Legal Brief, a show dedicated to crushing the various myths and misinformation around various areas of the gun world. He was also the general manager of a gun store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Instagram: @theadamkraut
Twitter: @theadamkraut

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