Court Overturns Order In Gun Permit Fingerprinting Case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court order issued last year that required Connecticut to resume fingerprinting for gun permit applicants despite the state's suspension of those services because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York vacated the preliminary injunction on technical grounds. The judges also noted local police resumed fingerprinting shortly before the June 2020 preliminary injunction was issued, and state police resumed the services shortly after it was issued.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League and six people seeking gun permits sued Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, the state's public safety commissioner and local police chiefs in federal court in New Haven, saying the suspension of fingerprinting services violated their Second Amendment gun rights. Judge Jeffrey Meyer agreed and issued the injunction requiring fingerprinting to resume.

The appeals court judges said the six plaintiffs' claims were moot because fingerprinting resumed, and the defense league did not have legal standing to be a part of the case.

Craig Fishbein, a Republican state representative from Wallingford and a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said he disagreed with Wednesday's ruling. He said the plaintiffs will be deciding how to respond.

State Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat who appealed the injunction, said the new ruling vindicates the governor's authority to issue pandemic-related orders to protect public health.

Fishbein said the court case is continuing, however, because many local police agencies have stopped taking fingerprints, due to a lack of training to use a new state fingerprinting computer system. He also said gun shops are having trouble getting necessary approval from state police for firearm sales because of an understaffed phone system.

A message seeking comment was left for state police Wednesday.