Grading Connecticut’s Gun Laws

Connecticut ranks fourth in the nation for strong gun laws.

First in a Series on Connecticut’s Gun Laws

Connecticut Ranked Fourth Highest for Strong Gun Laws

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV) ranks Connecticut fourth among the 10 states with the strongest gun laws. California is ranked first, New Jersey second, and Massachusetts third (http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-laws-matter-2012-understanding-the-link-between-weak-laws-and-gun-violence/ ).

The Law Center’s rankings are based on 29 criteria which can be downloaded from http://smartgunlaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Point-Assignment-Methodology.pdf. The criteria focus, among other things, on whether background checks and mental health reporting are required by state law, whether the law has loose or strict regulation of assault weapons, and the extent to which state laws limit the issuance of pistol permits or allow pistols to be carried with no permits.

States with the Weakest Gun Laws

Nine of the ten states with the weakest gun laws are either in the West, the Midwest, or the South (South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky, Kansas, and Oklahoma) The tenth state with the weakest gun laws— it actually ranks fifth among the ten— is Vermont which, among other factors, allows its citizens to carry concealed guns without a permit.

Strong Gun Laws = Low Death Rates

LCPVG finds a direct correlation between strong gun laws and low gun death rates. Seven of the 10 states with the strongest gun laws are also among the 10 states having the lowest gun death rates. Connecticut is among those seven:

Top 10 States with the Strongest Gun Laws

Top 10 States with the Lowest Gun Death Rates


New Jersey




New York



Rhode Island




Rhode Island

New York

New Jersey






Strengths in Connecticut’s Gun laws

LCPGV cites ten strengths in Connecticut’s gun laws. Among other factors, Connecticut

  • Requires background checks before a handgun can be transferred between individuals who are not licensed firearm dealers;
  • Conducts its own background checks rather than relying on the FBI;
  • Requires owners to report the loss or theft of any firearm; and
  • Allows local governments to deny as well as issue concealed carry permits.

Weaknesses in Connecticut’s Gun Laws

According to LCPGV, Connecticut does not

  • Limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at any one time; or
  • Regulate ammunition sales.

Since Connecticut does not regulate ammunition sales, any qualified person can buy any number of high-capacity magazines (“clips”) capable of holding 10, 20, 30, 50, or as many as 100 rounds.

An advertisement in a December 2010 issue of a gun magazine pictures five high-capacity magazines. Two of them can hold 100 rounds; the other three hold 75 rounds.

Next Post

In the next post we will take a closer look at Connecticut’s firearms laws.

Sources and Notes

LCPGV’s Connecticut State Law Summary can be accessed at http://smartgunlaws.org/connecticut-state-law-summary/, This page has links to Connecticut’s firearms laws.

The advertisement for high-capacity ammunition clips can be viewed on p. 4 of an online publication of the Violence Policy Center headquartered in Washington, D.C. (http://www.vpc.org/studies/accessories.pdf). 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Barbara Zuras January 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Thank you for this very informative article. I look forward to the rest of your series on this critical issue. Barbara Zuras
Spiff January 24, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Peter, in your second paragraph above you refer to "loose or strict regulation of assault weapons." If you were really that knowledgeable about firearms and firearms laws, then you would already know that it is illegal for assault weapons to be sold to or owned by the general public. The technical definition of an assault weapon is one that has Selective Fire capability, meaning that you can switch from semi-automatic TO burst or fully-automatic fire (depending on the weapon). ANY weapon without this capability makes it semi-automatic ONLY. An AR-15, for example, does not have this capability, AGAIN because it is illegal for SELECTIVE FIRE weapons to be sold to or owned by the general public. The AR in "AR-15" stands for ArmaLite, which is the company that originally developed the AR-15 prototype, IT DOES NOT STAND FOR ASSAULT RIFLE. While the AR-15 looks like a military assault rifle, it DOES NOT function like one, it functions like any gas- powered semi-automatic hunting rifle. Therefore, the correct term to use to describe this weapon is that it is an "assault style rifle." Again, because it is designed to look like an assault rifle, BUT IT DOES NOT FUNCTION LIKE ONE. It is important for those who are engaged in this discussion to be honest and accurate, and not use scare tactics or misleading terms to promote their position.
Peter Hufstader January 24, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I was using the language of Connecticut statute § Sec. 53-202a. "Assault weapons: Definition. (a) As used in this section and sections 53-202b to 53-202k, inclusive, "assault weapon" means:

Spiff January 24, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Peter, that's a politician's definition. Again, the "technical" definition of an assault weapon is one that has a Selective Fire feature. If it does not, then it is not. Outside of the military, the term assault weapon is technically meaningless. Think about it, Peter, if I put a hood scoop on my car, does that mean I now have a muscle car? (Kind of like putting a handle on a gun and painting it black; doesn't make it an assault rifle.)
Peter Hufstader January 24, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Connecticut state law is Connecticut state law. It's binding on us all, regardless of what our private views are.
Spiff January 24, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Peter, that's not the issue here (CT state law that is). The issue is 1) the technical definition of an assault rifle and, 2) promoting inaccurate information. The technical definition existed long before CT politicians developed their definition. The first assault rifle was introduced in 1944 and was the first to combine characteristics of sub-machine guns with the accuracy of single shot rifles. Up till this point, weapons of this nature did not exist. Sub-machine guns of the time (MP-38, Thompson, etc.) used pistol rounds and weren't completely accurate accept in close combat situations. Rifles were very accurate at long range but lacked the ability to place more than one round at a time (with one squeeze of the trigger) on a target. Heavy machine guns were fixed mount weapons and were difficult to wield around on the battlefield. (Continued below)
Spiff January 24, 2013 at 06:49 PM
(Continued from above) So, a condition existed for a weapon that combined these characteristics - automatic fire capability, accuracy at long range, and the ability for one soldier to easily maneuver with it on the battlefield. Hence, the SG-44 was born, also known as the Sturmgewehr (which translates to English as assault rifle). The assault rifle class didn’t exist previously. All assault rifles introduced since (AK-47, M-16, etc.) have similar characteristics. So, just because a gun looks like an M-16, AK-47 or SG-44, doesn’t mean it operates like one. Consequently, just because a CT politician in 1991 wants to develop his or her own definition of an assault rifle, doesn’t mean that a semi-automatic rifle painted black is technically an assault rifle. Again, I can't be more clear, if a rifle does not have burst or fully-automatic characteristics, then it is not an assault rifle, no matter what the CT politicians say.
Peter Hufstader January 24, 2013 at 07:37 PM
This blog is about Connecticut's gun laws, not about guns.
Spiff January 24, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Yes, Peter, I understand, and the point of my comment was to point out that the political definition in CT of an assault weapon is not the technical definition, which really says more about the manipulative nature of our politicians and those that promote inaccurate information.
Dan Miller January 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM
I find your ideas interesting and I would like to subscibe to your newsletter.
Peter Hufstader January 24, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Hi, Dan. Thanks for writing. I don't have a newsletter—just this blog, which will focus exclusively on Connecticut's gun laws. So I look forward to writing for you and and other Avon-ites about this very timely and important subject. I imagine IO'll be posting every other day. I plan the next post to go in Friday and the following one on Monday. Until then!
Bill Stanford January 24, 2013 at 11:06 PM
An honest evaluation of our guns laws would not rely entirely on data provided by an anti-gun advocacy group. In particular, the idea that strict gun laws leads to less gun violence has been subject to significant academic study. Much of it suggests that strict gun laws lead to more violence. Look at Washington DC and Chicago. They essentially have banned ll guns for decades. Yet, they have shy high murder rates. If you want cites, try looking at the academic articles listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Guns,_Less_Crime
Spiff January 25, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Check out the video below. Very interesting, and supports my idea about the manipulative nature of politicians and the media! Today Show - no rifles used in Newtown shooting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGn4o1Lb6L0


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