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Gun rights group sues Connecticut governor, police chiefs

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gun rights supporters have filed a lawsuit against Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and several local police chiefs over the coronavirus-related suspension of fingerprinting services needed to obtain gun and ammunition permits.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League filed the lawsuit Saturday in U.S. District Court, saying a March 17 executive order issued by the Democratic governor violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Lamont's order suspended the state law that prohibits state police and local police officials from refusing to collect fingerprints, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. The gun rights group said that effectively shut down the issuance of permits for firearms.

“Law enforcement throughout the state are refusing to collect fingerprints for firearms permit purposes, and are refusing to process firearms applications, even while fingerprinting and application processing continues for other purposes,” the Connecticut Citizens Defense League said in a statement Monday.

Messages seeking comment were left with the governor's office and state police.

State Attorney General William Tong said the lawsuit has no merit and his office will defend the governor's order.

“Our state constitution and state laws grant the governor broad authority to protect Connecticut residents and families in a public health emergency, and his executive orders have been very clearly constitutional and fully legally justified," Tong said in a statement.

Worries about the pandemic have sparked a surge in gun buying across the country. FBI data show there were 3.7 million background checks to purchase firearms conducted in March, which smashed previous records, and a slight leveling off to 2.9 million checks last month.

Long lines have been seen outside gun stores across the U.S. Unlike some other governors, Lamont has allowed gun stores to remain open, but they can only conduct business by appointment only in order to limit person-to-person contact. Several states are being sued over ordering gun stores to close during the pandemic.

More than 33,000 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 3,000 have died, as of Sunday. While deaths continue to increase, hospitalizations have been declining for two weeks.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.



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