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Gun rights group accuses 4 Connecticut cities of unreasonable delays in issuing firearms permits

Those who want to purchase guns in four cities in Connecticut are facing unnecessary delays, says a lawsuit disclosed Tuesday by a gun rights group. (New York Daily News/TNS)

A gun rights group has filed another suit complaining of unnecessary delays in the issuance of firearms licenses, charging that big city police departments have effectively excluded residents from permits with unjustifiable delays in taking fingerprints and other early steps in the application process.

Gun rights and Second Amendment advocates have complained for years about impediments to legal ownership imposed by the state through the tough gun laws enacted following the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012.

In the new lawsuit, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League claims that police departments in Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Haven are making an already difficult registration process onerous by imposing processing delays that can last months or even years.

In Connecticut, citizens seeking gun permits must first apply to local police departments to be fingerprinted and for a municipal firearm permit. After obtaining a municipal permit, prospective licensees must a obtain a second, state-issued permit from the state police to obtain, possess and carry a firearm.

The new suit, which the gun rights group disclosed Tuesday, claims that the big city police departments have created such delays that the licensing process has been effectively shut down.

“Through this complicated, time consuming, and expensive dual permit regulatory system, certain cities, including Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury, treat the people’s fundamental Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as a mere governmental gratuity which can be delayed, ignored, infringed, and even disregarded and prevented altogether whenever convenient for the cities’ regulatory bureaucracy,” the suit contends.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League previously sued the state, claiming an emergency order by Gov. Ned Lamont permitting state and local police agencies to stop taking fingerprints for gun permits effectively prevented applicants from exercising their second amendment right to keep and bear arms.

A federal court ruled in favor of the gun rights advocates, ordering Lamont to lift the fingerprint order. But an appeals court reversed the decision, concluding the gun rights group lacked standing to sue because it was not a permit applicant and, as a result, was not directly harmed by the Lamont order.

Big city police agencies had not reviewed the new suit Tuesday. A Hartford police spokesman said the department learned of the suit from news reporters and it was being reviewed by city lawyers.

The suit is a class action brought by four named permit applicants in each of the cities. It claims:

—A Hartford resident tried to apply for a permit in June, but was told to sign a list and wait for a call back.

—In New Haven, a resident was told in June she cannot apply for a permit until March.

—When a Bridgeport resident tried to apply in April 2020, she was told she cannot submit an application until January 2022.

—In Waterbury, a resident submitted an application in August and was told it will take 11 months to process, even though the law specifies a turnaround time of no more than two months.

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