Reps. Doug Dubitsky and Craig Fishbein outside Hoffman’s Gun Shop in Newington

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the police chiefs of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury claiming that it’s taking too long to process applications for municipal gun permits. 

One plaintiff, Anne Cordero, has been trying to submit her application for a municipal firearm permit to the Bridgeport Police Department since last year. In June, Bridgeport Police, according to the lawsuit, finally instructed her to sign up for an appointment to submit her application. Bridgeport’s first available appointment just to submit her application is late January 2022. 

According to the lawsuit, Hartford resident Orel Johnson applied at the police department in June for a municipal firearm permit. Without first obtaining a municipal firearm permit, one cannot obtain a state-issued firearm permit to obtain, possess and carry firearms for personal protection.

Johnson said he was directed to put his name on a list and police officials would call him when they were ready to accept his application. He said Hartford police still haven’t taken his application, despite his numerous follow-up calls.

Another plaintiff, Shaquanna Williams, complained that she submitted documents and fingerprints to the New Haven Police Department for a permit this month and was told she can’t get an appointment to submit the application until next March. 

“These cities are notorious for violating their residents’ constitutional rights by excessively delaying the application process,” Holly Sullivan, president of the CCDL, said in a statement. “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.”

The lawsuit says these departments “slowed to the point of an effective shut down.” 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker sent out his own press release and pointed to the shooting death five days ago of a 14-year-old

“This group has, in the past, opposed common sense gun safety legislation which enjoyed bipartisan support, such as Ethan’s Law, restricting untraceable ghost guns, and expanded background checks,” Elicker said. “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.”

New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez said they take everyone’s constitutional rights seriously. 

“However, we are also operating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires appropriate safety measures. The New Haven Police Department is working diligently and with new protocols that will help facilitate the processing of pistol permit applications, but is also focused on its core mission to keep our community safe,” Dominguez said. 

The three other police departments were not immediately available for comment. 

The CCDL, which is represented by state Reps. Craig Fishbein and Doug Dubitsky, said COVID-19 is no longer an excuse. The two argued earlier this year that a delay in the fingerprinting process was unconstitutional and the federal court agreed. 

“It is unfathomable that those charged with enforcing our laws would so blatantly violate them by delaying the process to exercise a constitutional right,” Sullivan said.