A significant rise in firearm permit applications has contributed to a backlog of permit appeals, one local attorney said.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 168,000 firearms applications were filed in Connecticut in 2012, an increase of more than 50 percent. New Britain attorney Ralph Sherman says denials of those applications by local police have risen as well, leading to a backlog of appeal hearings before the Board of Firearm Permit Examiners. The Board’s web site shows hearings scheduled as far out as January, 2017.
"They're backlog went from approximately a year to approximately 2 and a half years now,” Sherman said.
Sherman attributes the backlog to a few factors: national anxiety in the wake of mass shootings, Connecticut’s 2012 gun law, and local police discretion.
"The worst part of it is, so many of these cases are ridiculous,” Sherman said.
State statute allows Connecticut police departments to approve or deny firearms applications based on the “suitability” of the applicant:
"The local authority shall take a full description of such applicant and make an investigation concerning the applicant's suitability to carry any such weapons,” the statute reads.
Sherman argues that terminology gives local police too much power.
However, suitability allows police to look at the “totality of circumstances at the time,” Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara told Fox Connecticut.
MacNamara said it allows certain factors, such as suicidal inclinations, alcoholism, and domestic disturbances, to be considered in the permitting process.