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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorneyIn recent weeks, tensions have been escalating in the United States between the country’s police force and its citizens, specifically among minority groups. There has always been a backlash against the tactics used by police, with many stating that the weapons and procedures used are too harsh and acts of brutality are too often aimed toward minorities and people of color. A recent instance where an Atlanta police officer fatally shot a black man, Rayshard Brooks, after the man grabbed a taser from the officer has reignited public concern over tasers and stun guns and their effectiveness as law enforcement tools.

In Connecticut, stun guns and tasers are referred to as electronic defense weapons and are actually classified as “dangerous weapons.” This also means that they are subject to certain rules and restrictions, as well as Connecticut residents who choose to own them. Similar to gun regulations, permits are required for anyone seeking to legally own a taser or stun gun. Anyone who does not comply with the state’s dangerous weapons laws faces criminal charges and consequences.

What Is an Electronic Defense Weapon?

A stun gun or electronic defense weapon is a device that was created to temporarily immobilize its targets. Stun guns have been used by law enforcement officers for decades, especially in situations in which suspects have been difficult or uncooperative. A stun gun has the ability to deliver 50,000 volts of electricity to a person, which courses through his or her body. When the weapon is used directly on a person, it typically only causes pain, similar to a shock. When the weapon is used and the probes are discharged, the voltage causes temporary paralysis, pain, and in some cases, death.

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Hartford criminal defense attorney for weapons offensesGun control has been a topic of immense concern and debate over the past few years. Due to the number of high-profile incidents of gun-related violence that have occurred throughout the U.S., state lawmakers have begun to consider implementing measures meant to prevent some of that violence. Connecticut was the first state in the nation to pass a “red flag” law in 1999 after a disgruntled worker at the Connecticut Lottery Corp. used a pistol and a knife to murder four employees before shooting himself. Since the law was passed, however, no changes have been made to it, prompting some to argue that the law has not kept up with modern times. To avoid facing potential criminal charges, gun owners should be sure to understand this law and how any potential changes could affect them.

What Are “Red Flag” Laws?

A total of 16 states and the District of Columbia have followed in Connecticut’s footsteps in implementing “red flag” laws, which are laws that take a preemptive approach to gun safety. Under these laws, anyone who is concerned that another person presents a danger to themselves or others can ask the court to temporarily remove that person’s firearms from their home or possession. In many cases, people come forward if they are concerned about suicidal thoughts expressed by a loved one, or they may ask the court to take action if a person has talked or joked about shooting someone.

The judge will determine whether or not the person is actually a threat to the safety of themselves or others and make a decision accordingly. If the judge approves the request, a court order known as a “risk warrant” will be issued, requiring the person to surrender their firearms for a specific period of time.

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for deadly weapons chargesThe deadly shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012 shook the country and especially the state of Connecticut. Shortly after the tragedy, the state’s lawmakers enacted several new laws pertaining to firearms, one of which created what is known as the Deadly Weapon Offender Registry. This is a non-public registry, and those who have been convicted of criminal charges involving a deadly weapon are required to submit their personal information to the registry and maintain this registration for five years after their release from prison. While the registry functions similar to the sex offender registry, some are arguing that the registry should not be made public or should not exist at all.

Who Is Required to Register?

The current law states that any person who is convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect for a crime involving a deadly weapon is required to register within 14 days of being released back into the community. Connecticut law defines a deadly weapon as “any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged, or a switchblade knife, gravity knife, bill, blackjack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.” There are 42 offenses for which convicted offenders must submit their information to the registry, including:

  • Carrying a handgun without a permit
  • Committing murder, assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, or burglary with a firearm
  • Committing a felony crime that involves threatening the use of a firearm
  • Criminal possession of a handgun
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Selling or transferring a handgun to an ineligible person
  • Possession of a sawed-off shotgun or silencer

Should the List Be Made Public?

Many people, including lawmakers, have questioned the effectiveness of the Deadly Weapon Offender Registry. Some say that the list should be made public, just like the sex offender registry, which can be accessed online. Others say that the weapons offender registry is used for police purposes only and would not serve any use to the public, except for vigilantes who might take matters into their own hands. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has opposed making the list public, since releasing this information would create significant privacy concerns for those on the list.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for weapons chargesSince the establishment of the United States, one of the freedoms inherently given to American citizens is the right to gun ownership. The right to bear arms is one of the many unique characteristics of the U.S., but this “right” is commonly restricted and regulated by state governments. One of the many ways the use and possession of firearms is regulated is by requiring some kind of permit or license to legally purchase and possess a firearm. Each state has its own laws, but Connecticut tends to be more strict with its gun laws than many other states.

Carrying Permits

Anyone who wishes to purchase a firearm in Connecticut must obtain an Eligibility Certificate. This will allow you to buy a gun and transport it to your home or place of business. However, before you can carry a handgun on your person, you must apply for and receive a permit for carrying a pistol or revolver. This permit is broad; Connecticut law does not specify whether the permit applies to open carry or concealed carry, just carrying a pistol in general. If you plan on carrying a handgun in any place other than your home or place of business, you must have a valid pistol permit on your person.

Before receiving a Connecticut State Pistol Permit, you must first apply for and receive a temporary local pistol permit from the chief of police in your town or city. Connecticut is a “may issue” state, which means local law enforcement has the right to decide whether or not a permit can be issued to a person. There are also certain requirements that must be met before a permit will be issued. Connecticut law states that a permit may be issued to a person who:

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Hartford gun crime defense attorneyFirearms have been a part of American history for as long as the United States has been a country. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically gives American people the right to own firearms, but with the invention of new weapon technologies, more laws are being enacted each year. Gun owners should be sure to understand how changing laws will affect them in order to avoid facing weapons charges.

The latest gun safety law was passed in both the Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives this past month. The bill, dubbed “Ethan’s Law,” was named in memory of Ethan Song, a 15-year-old Guilford boy who accidentally shot himself to death with a firearm that was easily accessible while at a friend’s house

Bill Calls for Gun Storage Changes

The biggest change to Connecticut’s firearm laws is the way that firearms must be stored. Prior to the passage of Ethan’s Law, the criminal liability a person had when a child accessed their firearms only applied if the firearm was loaded, and the child was able to gain access to the weapon. Under the new bill, a person must keep firearms in a securely locked box or in another secure manner if a minor under the age of 18 is likely to gain access to the firearm -- regardless of whether or not the firearm is loaded.

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