Wife of Colchester contractor denied pistol permit

Colchester - The wife of Bruce "Bruno" Hayn says the first selectman has denied her application for a pistol permit because her husband, charged recently with burning down his wood pellet business in Norwich, refuses to step down from the town's Board of Finance.

"What does that have to do with me?" Patricia Hayn said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. "He's my husband. I live in the same house with him, yeah. But I am my own person, and I have my own rights."

Patricia Hayn received a letter from First Selectman Gregg Schuster this week that says he can't approve her application for a pistol permit.

"As you know, I have recently asked your husband to resign from his position on the Board of Finance," Schuster wrote in the Feb. 6 letter. "Additionally, the Board of Selectmen has also unanimously voted to request he resign as well. Based on these circumstances, I do not believe I am in an objective position to render a decision on your permit and am therefore not approving it."

The letter goes on to say that she can appeal the decision to the state Board of Firearm Permit Examiners. She said she plans to appeal the decision and has contacted her attorney, the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

She said she applied for the permit before her husband was charged, on Jan. 16, with first-degree arson and insurance fraud in connection with an October 2011 fire that caused extensive damage to his wood pellet business, Shur Fire, on West Thames Street in Norwich.

She said she took the required pistol safety course months ago, filled out the pistol permit paperwork and was fingerprinted at the state police barracks. Once the police finished a background check, they forwarded it to the first selectman for final approval.

She said she wants a pistol permit for self protection, since she is often home alone on a seven-acre property, and for target shooting. She said her late father spent 30 years defending her right to bear arms as an officer in the Navy.

"He (Schuster) just trampled my Second Amendment rights, and I am not happy," she said. "This is all political nonsense."

Schuster said in a phone interview Friday afternoon that he is neither approving nor denying the pistol permit application but asking Patricia Hayn to take it to the state because he is not in a position to render a decision.

"Of course she's not her husband," Schuster said. "But we're also talking about sharing the same household. Because she has a close personal relationship with someone I've asked to resign, I thought the responsible thing to do was to say I'm not in a position to make this decision."

Schuster said the town's supervising state trooper called the state Board of Firearm Permit Examiners for advice on the issue.

"The state agency said I'm under no obligation to approve it and said any citizen who disagrees with the decision I've made has the right to appeal to that body," he said.

Bruno Hayn achieved local notoriety when he led charitable home building efforts, including one that was chronicled on the "Extreme Makeover" television show.

He is a longtime member of the Colchester Board of Finance and was serving as the board's chairman until November. Since his arrest, he has not attended any meetings, Schuster said. Bruno Hayn's criminal case was transferred this week to the New London court where major crimes are heard and continued to March 8.

k.florin@theday.com

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