Pistol permit applications doubled during 2013

It’s certainly no simple process to apply for and receive a pistol permit in the town of Wilton, with background checks and a personal meeting with the chief of police part of the process.

Nevertheless, 78 residents applied for a pistol permit in 2013. That is double the five-year running average of applications in town.

Over five years — from 2008 to 2012 — an average of 38 residents applied for a permit to own a pistol every year.

Only “about three” applications have been denied from 2008 to 2014, said Capt. John Lynch of the Wilton police department.

Ron Pinciaro, executive director of the nonprofit group Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said Tuesday he believes the upward trend in 2013 was momentary.

Though there had been an overall upward trend in the number of permit applications in Connecticut since President Obama was elected in 2008 to 2013, Mr. Pinciaro said there is now a palapable downward trend in the number of applications.

Referencing last year’s legislative session, he said, “2013 was the time when we passed very comprehensive gun violence legislation in Connecticut. A lot of people were feeling their ability to purchase guns might be in jeopardy, so there was a spike in applications. Whenever there is significant legislation with the potential of passing, we always see a rash of people going out to purchase guns,” he said.

The gun-control advocate went on to say because there has been “no significant national or Connecticut gun-control legislation since 2013, those purchases have diminished.”

However, there have been 23 applications to date in 2014, putting the town on track to receive nearly 60 applications for pistol permits this year, a higher number than those from 2008 to 2012.

The process

The procedure for obtaining a pistol permit is lengthy, according to details provided by Lt. Don Wakeman of the Wilton Police Department.

First, a resident must fill out a pistol permit application — a form that may be found at wiltonpolice.org — and then schedule an appointment with one of the department’s detectives, who reviews the notarized application and takes the applicant’s fingerprints.

The applicant must also provide proof a National Rifle Association-approved handgun safety course was successfully completed at that time.

Over the next few weeks, the resident’s fingerprints are sent electronically to the state police and FBI for a criminal background check, and “the detective conducts a background check on the resident,” Lt. Wakeman said.

This includes “computer checks of wanted-persons files, criminal history, protective and restraining orders, motor vehicle history, and any documented contacts within our own records management system,” he said.

In addition, the detective also goes directly into the community and reaches out to an applicant’s spouse, neighbors, and other adult members of his or her family about their desire to obtain a pistol permit.

After all of those requirements are fulfilled, an applicant must schedule an interview with the Wilton police chief for a personal approval.

If the chief approves the application, a 60-day permit is issued. Within those 60 days, a resident must go to a state police pistol permit location — the closest is at Troop G in Bridgeport — and submit additional paperwork to obtain the state permit, which is valid for five years.