Unconcealed [Open] Carry
There is a lot of hype and misinformation in circulation that Connecticut law 'intends' for permit holder's firearm to remain concealed and that officers are free to make arrests for breach of peace or disorderly conduct.
The Connecticut General Statutes do not prescribe any method of carry, either concealed or otherwise. There is no valid charge in the Connecticut General Statutes that someone can be arrested for when a person is simply carrying a properly holstered firearm unconcealed.
The most relevant statute on the matter is CGS 29-35. Please note that it does not mention concealment or any manner of carry anywhere inside of it.
Sec 29-35. Carrying of pistol or revolver without permit prohibited. Exceptions.
(a) No person shall carry any pistol or revolver upon his or her person, except when such person is within the dwelling house or place of business of such person, without a permit to carry the same issued as provided in section 29-28. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the carrying of any pistol or revolver by any parole officer or peace officer of this state, or parole officer or peace officer of any other state while engaged in the pursuit of official duties, or federal marshal or federal law enforcement agent, or to any member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined in section 27-103, or of this state, as defined in section 27-2, when on duty or going to or from duty, or to any member of any military organization when on parade or when going to or from any place of assembly, or to the transportation of pistols or revolvers as merchandise, or to any person transporting any pistol or revolver while contained in the package in which it was originally wrapped at the time of sale and while transporting the same from the place of sale to the purchaser's residence or place of business, or to any person removing such person's household goods or effects from one place to another, or to any person while transporting any such pistol or revolver from such person's place of residence or business to a place or individual where or by whom such pistol or revolver is to be repaired or while returning to such person's place of residence or business after the same has been repaired, or to any person transporting a pistol or revolver in or through the state for the purpose of taking part in competitions, taking part in formal pistol or revolver training, repairing such pistol or revolver or attending any meeting or exhibition of an organized collectors' group if such person is a bona fide resident of the United States and is permitted to possess and carry a pistol or revolver in the state or subdivision of the United States in which such person resides, or to any person transporting a pistol or revolver to and from a testing range at the request of the issuing authority, or to any person transporting an antique pistol or revolver, as defined in section 29-33. For the purposes of this subsection, "formal pistol or revolver training" means pistol or revolver training at a locally approved or permitted firing range or training facility, and "transporting a pistol or revolver" means transporting a pistol or revolver that is unloaded and, if such pistol or revolver is being transported in a motor vehicle, is not readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle or, if such pistol or revolver is being transported in a motor vehicle that does not have a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, such pistol or revolver shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the carrying of a pistol or revolver during formal pistol or revolver training or repair.
"What if someone panics or is alarmed?"
Many citizens are told by confused law enforcement officials that they could be charged if they ‘cause alarm’. Please stop and think for a moment what an officer might charge a citizen lawfully carrying a firearm unconcealed with.
Let's assume breach of peace (this is a common one among police officers in Connecticut).
Here is the statute for breach of peace:
Sec 53a-181. Breach of the peace in the second degree: Class B misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of breach of the peace in the second degree when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person: (1) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior in a public place; or (2) assaults or strikes another; or (3) threatens to commit any crime against another person or such other person's property; or (4) publicly exhibits, distributes, posts up or advertises any offensive, indecent or abusive matter concerning any person; or (5) in a public place, uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture; or (6) creates a public and hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which such person is not licensed or privileged to do. For purposes of this section, "public place" means any area that is used or held out for use by the public whether owned or operated by public or private interests.
When we break this down, we have (a) which says a breach of the peace occurs when you intend to create annoyance or alarm by one of the following:
- Fighting or being violent or threatening. (Obviously does not apply)
- Assaults or strikes another. (Same)
- Threatens to commit any crime (Same)
- Uses abusive or obscene language (Same)
And then there is the last clause which I would argue also does not apply, but even if one argues that it does apply (a serious stretch), a Connecticut pistol permit holder is clearly 'licensed and privileged' to carry their firearm and the law is silent on how it must be carried. Both clauses have to be proven, neither would hold up in court. Neither ever have.
Demands to show permit when stopped
The mere fact that you are carrying a firearm unconcealed does not meet the Reasonable Articulable Suspicion (RAS) necessary to detain an individual. Therefore, there is no statutory requirement for a person to provide a pistol permit when they are not otherwise suspected of a crime. Citizens exercising this right should be aware that they are likely to face harrassment, threats and even unlawful arrest by police officers if they refuse to show their permit on demand by police officers. This has occurred previously, and it was ruled that the officer lacked RAS to stop the defendant.
Not just Connecticut Carry's opinion
You should not just take Connecticut Carry's word for it. It is important to read the statutes we have posted here as well as the interpretations of other key officials in Connecticut.
- This is the official document used to train the State Police in how to deal with people who are encountered carrying a firearm in plain view.
- You should review the opinion of the DPS in a memo sent to the State Police. The memo is pretty clear on how they expect an officer to act around a citizen carrying a firearm unconcealed.
- You should also review the opinion in the Torrington Police Department's review of the applicable laws after their interaction with a person carrying unconcealed.
- You should also review the opinion in the Wethersfield Police Department's review of the applicable laws following their receipt and review of the Torrington memo.
- The Bridgeport PD is also aware, although we have not yet received their memo yet. We are working on this however. In the meantime, you may contact Sgt. Nikola of the Bridgeport Police Department for clarification of their stance on open carry.
- The Old Saybrook PD is aware as well of the legality of not concealing a firearm. They have not been helpful in producing a memo on the issue, but we have been told it would be communicated verbally to the officers. You may contact Chief Spera to confirm this. He has assured us that he tells his officers: A person carrying a firearm unconcealed should be expected to be treated like any other citizen.
- We have audio of a BFPE (Board of Firearms Permit Examiners) hearing where the BFPE states in no uncertain terms that open carry is legal and goes further to admonish an officer out of Fairfield for arresting someone for open carry (skip ahead to 28:00 if you are in a hurry). The permit was returned to the permittee by a unanimous vote. Joseph Corradino is the chairman of that board and has mentioned several times that prosecutors all around the state have been informed of the legality of open carry and the futility in trying to prosecute for breach of peace for nothing but not concealing your firearm.
It is clearly not prudent for police or other officials to continue to tell citizens or officers that they may arrest a person with an unconcealed firearm for no other unlawful act other than not concealing their firearm. The failure to train officers on the correct application of the laws opens officers, police departments and towns and cities up to civil liabilities.