The Connecticut Citizens Defense League has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against four police chiefs, alleging in their complaint that they are “intentionally and illegally” slowing the gun licensing process in their jurisdictions, according to US News.
On its website, CCDL says it was “forced to bring suit” against police chiefs in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury “to stop their blatant and ongoing violations of CCDL members’ right to keep and bear arms and other constitutional rights.”
The organization brought the action on behalf of four CCDL members, Orel Johnson of Hartford, Shaquanna Williams of New Haven, Anne Cordero in Bridgeport and Jamie Eason in Waterbury. According to the CCDL website, each of the individual plaintiffs have experienced delays in the application process. Williams’ case may be the most blatant, as described by the organization.
“Shaquanna went to the New Haven Police Department in August to apply for a municipal firearm permit,” the narrative says. “Her documents were already completed, and she had already paid to have her fingerprints taken. New Haven PD refused to take Shaquanna’s application, and instead gave her an appointment in March 2022 just to submit her application. By then, her fingerprints will be stale and she will have to pay again for new fingerprints.”
Johnson was told to “put his name on a list” and would be called when he could apply for a permit from the Hartford Police Department. He has checked back several times but the agency still will not accept his application, the group asserts.
Cordero has also tried to submit an application, but in June, the Bridgeport Police Department allegedly told her she would have to wait until January 2022 to submit her application.
Eason applied with the Waterbury department in August but was allegedly told the application process will take “about 48 weeks.” That’s 11 months.
In a prepared statement, CCDL President Holly Sullivan observed, “In addition to violating these citizen’s constitutional right to access the permitting process, these cities are notorious for violating their resident’s constitutional rights by excessively delaying the application process. The CCDL is standing up for the residents of these cities, many of whom are minorities fighting for their right to keep and bear arms for personal protection. It is unfathomable that those charged with enforcing our laws would so blatantly violate them by delaying the process to exercise a constitutional right.”
Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Doug Dubitsky and Craig Fishbein. US News said both are Republican state legislators.
WTIC News in Hartford quoted New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who criticized CCDL.
“This group has, in the past, opposed common sense gun safety legislation which enjoyed bipartisan support,” Elicker asserted, “such as Ethan’s Law, restricting untraceable ghost guns, and expanded background checks. My priorities are keeping our residents safe – not profiteering for gun retailers and manufacturers. Last week a fourteen-year-old boy was gunned down in our city, this is unconscionable.”
What Elicker’s complaints have to do with the lawsuit was not clear.
US News reported that Acting New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez contended the department is “operating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires appropriate safety measures.”
The news agency recalled that CCDL sued Democrat Gov. Ned Lamont and local police chiefs last year when the fingerprinting process required to make a permit application was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. This same excuse was used by a number of law enforcement agencies, including several in Washington state where there is no provision in state law to allow such a suspension.
The CCDL lawsuit was declared moot in July by a federal appeals court after the state resumed taking fingerprints, US News said.