First, I live in South Eastern Connecticut not by choice but due to my military obligations. Second, the day I get out of the military will be the last day I live here. I am heading back out West which is where I lived before I joined the military. Third, I survived Sandy just fine. I ensured I had 4G coverage before the storm: Generator, Gas, Grub and Gallons of water. I guess you could add Guns and make it 5G coverage.
On to what I am writing about, the pistol permit process in a liberal / restrictive state. Here in Connecticut you must go through several hoops and roadblocks on the way to buying / carrying any handgun. After much internet research and discussions with the owner of the lone gun store in South Eastern Connecticut, my wife and I started down the road to legal handgun ownership. Notice I said handgun. Here in Connecticut I can walk into Cabela's, pick any rifle or shotgun they are selling and walk out the same day with as much ammunition as I can buy (with a copy of my military orders stationing me here). Without those orders I would have to wait 14 days.
The first step to the process was to attend a NRA basic pistol shooting course. This despite the fact that I have had training in the military on the M1911, the Browning 9mm, 12 gauge, M16, M14 and M249. At $150 each for my wife and I (expensive but it had to be a weekend class that fit into our schedule) we were well on our way to spending big money in order to exercise our Second Amendment rights. This was on Sunday May 6th of this year. Once we had completed the course and had the certificate in hand we then had to schedule an appointment with our local Connecticut Police Department (Groton) for the interview, application paperwork and finger printing process in order to receive a temporary local permit. The city of Groton only has appointment slots twice a month (2nd and 4th Wednesdays) with limited availability (Chokepoint!). We were “lucky” enough to squeeze in an appointment on the 13th of June (someone cancelled).
On to the appointment: In order to do the appointment my wife and I both had to take half a day off. We showed up early with our filled out DPS-799-Cs and the application (or as my wife calls it, bribe) money required by the city. After a lengthy interview by a local police officer to ensure we were who we said we were and not mentally incapacitated or revolutionaries, he collected our money. That was $70 for each of us to the town of Groton as a local authority fee. Also there was the $19.25 for each of us to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the federal fingerprint / background fee. And finally the $50 each for the state of CT fingerprint / background check fee. $278.50 in fees + $300 in classes. We are up to $578.50. This doesn’t include lost wages for my wife to take a half day off for the interview process.
Fairly straight-forward and a little expensive so far. Nothing overly difficult. Now the waiting process begins. The local Groton Police Department is required to get back to us within 60 days in accordance with Connecticut law. My wife and I settled in for what we were sure would be the full 60 days. It is the government of Connecticut after all and we counted on them using every day of the 60. We passed the time working on other preparations to include dehydrating fruit and experimenting with canning. During this waiting period we also purchased several rifles (Mosin-Nagants and others) and learned how to shoot them, break them down, clean and upgrade. Time spent wisely.
August 13th rolled around (61 day point) with no word from the Groton Police Department. Having been in the military for several years I am used to the waiting game and the gross inefficiency of government. I proceeded to wait on calling and gave them another two weeks.
August 27th and still no phone call. So now I start calling. After playing phone tag for a week and a half I finally reach a human on September 6th. She says there is a large backlog due to the large amount of applications and it may be a bit before they can get to us. A bit? To me, “a bit” means maybe the next day at the latest. To the local government a bit seems to be measured in glacial time. And how can they be backlogged? They only accept a limited number of applications twice a month. You would think this would prevent them from being backlogged.
September 10th, my supervisor and my wife’s supervisor receive phone calls from the Groton Police Department to verify information on the background check. Progress! I guess I am perturbed/happy. Happy that there is movement, perturbed that it is taking so long. Knowing the process for background checks should not take no more than two or three weeks after they start I marked down the 26th of September as the day to call and inquire if I have not received word.
September 26th. No word from the local Groton Police Department. Let the phone calls commence. Another week of phone tag ensues before I get to talk to what I am now sure is a poorly programmed robot. I receive the same spiel about “backlogged” and “working on it”. I would have had a better conversation with my neighbors Roomba robot floor cleaner.
So my wife and I patiently wait, yet continue to call on a weekly basis. We are both fairly angry at this point. What was a straightforward simple process has tuned into a denial of our rights by government inefficiency and outright incompetence. Yet we continue to call. Not so much that anyone could say we were harassing. Not angrily so we could be denied for threats or whatever. Polite calls and friendly conversations. I learned long ago that angry conversations with government drones results in paperwork mysteriously lost in a black hole somewhere.
October 10th rolls around and we call the Connecticut Department of Public Safety. After several calls and hours on the phone we receive a “we will look into the issue”. Now it has become a weekly routine. Every Wednesday morning the local Police Department receives a call. Every Wednesday afternoon the Department of Public Safety receives a call.
It is now November 6th and we are still waiting. What is most galling is I am not waiting approval to purchase a handgun. I am not waiting on approval to carry a handgun. I am waiting on the local Police Department to give my wife and I a temporary permit which gives us permission to pay $70 a piece to the State of Connecticut to apply for permanent permits (which expire after 5 years). After we receive these mythical permits we can then legally purchase/own/carry a handgun in Connecticut.
Why not just give up? After all I only have seven months left here before moving to a friendlier state. There are a few reasons for that. One, I am stubborn and will see this through to the end. Two, I want to take the Utah pistol permit class at Cabela's in East Hartford so I can be legal in more states. I cannot do that without a Connecticut pistol permit.
Maybe there are past problems they have uncovered and that is why they are taking so long. No. I have very high security clearance for my work in the Navy. I go through a complete background investigation every five years. I am about as squeaky clean as they come (and so is my wife). No tickets, no skeletons in the closet, no vices such as drugs, alcohol or gambling and an excellent military record. If anything, the only “vice” I have is preparing. Other than the occasional post on SurvivalBlog I keep OPSEC high and avoid anything that would draw undue attention to me by any of the alphabet agencies.
Even with all my ducks in a row, all the proper forms filled out, all money paid and maintenance of pleasant persona on the phone and in person my wife and I are victims of government inefficiency and stall tactics. I would hazard a guess that Connecticut doesn’t want too many upstanding solid citizens running around with hand guns.
We will keep on preparing. We will keep on planning. We will keep helping our neighbors and anyone around us who wants to prepare. We will continue to learn new skills (cheese making this weekend). We will continue to take our rifles to the gun range and hone our shooting skills.
I have the patience of Job. I can wait this state out.
Some of the lessons I have learned or have had cemented in from this whole process:
- Ensure you have all your paperwork in order. I double checked everything. It made the application process go much smoother.
- Don’t trust the government to expedite a process they don’t want to complete but are mandated to by law.
- Don’t move to Connecticut. If the bureaucracy doesn’t kill you, the taxes will.
- Ensure you understand the exact cost of the process. When all is said and done Connecticut will run my wife and I $718.50 before we make our first handgun purchase in this state.