DEEP: Hunting and Connecticut's Gun Laws

Hunting and Connecticut's Gun Laws

Below is a list of common questions and answers about how Connecticut's new gun laws may affect hunters. For more specific information including the Public Act and other frequently asked questions, please visit the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) Special Licensing and Firearms web page.

How does the new gun law affect my activities as a hunter?
The new gun law should not affect your hunting activities in the field unless you hunt with large capacity magazines (those capable of holding more than 10 rounds) or certain types of banned “assault style” rifles and semi-automatic pistols. The requirements for purchasing firearms and ammunition, however, have changed significantly and will apply to everyone, including hunters.

Can I continue to hunt deer or small game with my Bushmaster AR-15 rifle?
It depends on where you hunt, since possession is restricted. There are new requirements for the possession of certain types of center-fire assault style semiautomatic rifles and some shotguns which will require the owner to register those firearms with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection prior to January 1, 2014 (Download Registration Form). Once registered, those specific firearms still cannot be used on any public lands but they may be used for hunting on the owner's own property or on private lands with express permission of the landowner. Download a complete listing of the restricted firearms which require DESPP registration and can only be possessed under certain conditions.

Can I continue to use a large capacity magazine (LCM) for my semi-automatic rifle while hunting?
Yes, provided you are hunting on private property with the express permission of the property owner. Although you may no longer purchase an LCM in Connecticut, you can still possess them. You will, however, be required to declare possession, no later than January 1, 2014 to DESPP of any LCMs that you legally possessed before the new law became effective (Download Declaration Form). Once that is done, you can possess the LCM while hunting as long as it is not loaded with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Does the new law affect use of my .22 caliber rim-fire Marlin semi-automatic rifle with a tubular magazine that holds more than 10 rounds? Can I continue to use my rim-fire Ruger 10/22 with a rotary magazine?
Hunters may continue to possess and use these types of firearms without additional restrictions. Most rifles that use rim-fire ammunition are not affected, except those that are capable of accepting a detachable magazine and which have two or more of the military features listed in CGS Section 53-202a.

Do I now have to register any of my shotguns, rifles or handguns used for hunting?
The only types of firearms requiring new registration are included above. If your firearm is not included or does not have features defining it as an assault weapon, registration is not required. Handgun registration is already required under existing law, whereby a form DPS-3-C must be completed upon the sale or transfer.

I want to buy a new 12 gauge shotgun and .30 caliber centerfire rifle for hunting. I have a current firearms hunting license. Can I still do that in Connecticut just by showing my hunting license?
No. After April 1, 2014 the new law requires that the buyer have either a long gun eligibility certificate or a valid pistol permit or an eligibility certificate.

How do I obtain a long gun eligibility certificate?
To apply for this certificate, you must be at least 18 years old, show proof of having successfully completed a firearms training course, have a criminal history background check and must not have a history of psychiatric disability. A State and Federal fingerprint card ($50.00 fee) and background check ($16.00 fee) is required. The certificate cost is $35.00 and is valid for five years (Download Application).

Does the Connecticut DEEP Conservation Education Firearms Safety training course certificate qualify for the training required to obtain a long gun eligibility certificate under the new law?
Yes. Page 4 of the DESPP eligibility certificate application includes a box to check for the DEEP course. You must also attach a copy of your certificate.

My son is 17, has successfully completed the 16-hour DEEP Conservation Education firearms training course and now holds a valid hunting license. Can a 17 year old purchase a .22 rifle in Connecticut?
No. Existing law requires a person to be at least 18 years old. The new law maintains that requirement but also requires purchasers of any long gun to have a long gun eligibility certificate. 

Can junior hunters aged 12-16 and youth under 18 years continue to hunt as in the past?
Yes. Although they cannot legally purchase a hunting firearm, they may use a firearm legally purchased in the past or one owned by another person, subject to existing hunting regulations and laws.

Can I still buy ammunition over the counter as I did in the past? What about reloading components?
No. Generally, if you are not considered eligible to purchase a firearm in Connecticut you will not be able to purchase ammunition. Effective October 1, 2013, all purchasers of ammunition must now have either a new “ammunition certificate”, a long gun eligibility certificate, a pistol permit or an eligibility certificate. Ammunition is defined as a complete cartridge including case, projectile, primer and propellant, therefore reloading components may be still be purchased without being subject to the newly enacted restrictions. 

How do I obtain the new ammunition certificate?
Any person 18 or older may request DESPP to perform a national criminal history records check to determine if such person is eligible to possess a firearm in Connecticut. You must appear in person to have your photograph taken and submit your initial application. DESPP will issue the certificate for a fee of $35 and after a successful records check. The ammunition certificate will be valid for five years (Download Ammunition Certificate Application).

Will I be able to use a large capacity magazine at a public or private shooting range? Will I be restricted to loading no more than 10 rounds at the range?
As long as you declare possession of the LCM as required under the new law, you may use it at a range and it may be loaded to full capacity while shooting at the range.