Nearly 30,000 handgun permits were issued in Connecticut in 2016, an increase of 73 percent from the 17,000 issued in 2015.
Since 2014, handgun permits have at least doubled the number of permits for long guns.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed raising state pistol permitting fees in his latest budget, which would bring in an estimated $11.6 million extra a year, according to the administration.
The pistol permit fee would increase from $70 to $300, the five-year permit would rise from $140 to $370, and a separate background check fee would be $75 instead of the current $50.
Those combined fees would be $745 compared to $260.
Surges in firearm purchases are often triggered by legislative discussion of gun control or national tragedies such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012.
Gun control reform in Connecticut has increased the demand for firearms and thus increased the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s workload for processing the pistol permits, long-gun certificates and ammunition certificates, said Chris McClure, spokesman for the governor’s budget office. “Raising the fee will cover the costs of the Connecticut State Police associated with these workload increases,” he said
Here’s how the process works for the state police: An applicant brings in a temporary permit issued by their local municipal government or police, along with a photo ID, proof of citizenship, and payment.
The length of time it takes for someone to have his or her background processed before receiving a permit depends on the person’s name. Someone with a common name like “John Smith” will take approximately 40 minutes while someone with a less-common name may take five minutes.
So for the 30,000 hand gun permits alone in 2016, it would have taken State Police between 2,500 and 20,000 hours (or between 104 and 833 days) to process.
However, since President Donald Trump was elected, there have been noticeable declines in gun sales and training registrations, said Bill Reed, owner of Connecticut Firearms Training.
“Ever since Trump got in office, people aren’t worried about their guns,” said Reed. “Gun sales are down.”
Recent participants in his course have not even heard of Gov. Malloy’s proposal, he said, whereas the previous year, incidents in Paris and San Bernadino were fresh on their minds.
“Every time something major happens we always see a huge increase,” said Reed. “I wish we didn’t for that type of situation but it happens.”
The NRA responded to Malloy’s proposal, saying the proposed fee hikes would make it harder for some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens to protect themselves.
“Some of our state’s poorest residents, many of whom live in high-crime neighborhoods, may not be able to afford a firearm for self-protection under Malloy’s proposed fee hikes,” said Chris Kornacki, the NRA’s Connecticut legislative liaison.
Though it’s true that more guns are purchased in Connecticut’s larger cities, such s New Haven, Stamford and Bristol, the more rural areas stand out when totals are adjusted for population.
In some towns, like Colebrook, Harwinton, Franklin and Hampton, there’s a handgun permit for every three residents.
Explore below to see which towns in Connecticut have received the most handgun permits since 2000.