A retired police officer in Connecticut is suing to get his gun license back, arguing that his right to keep and bear arms is being denied by the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
John Brenner had his gun license revoked in 2019 after he was arrested on charges of breach of peace and impersonating a police officer in an incident at a Walgreens. Those charges were ultimately dismissed a few months later, but Brenner was told he would have to wait years before he could apply to have his license returned to him.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday, Brenner states he appealed the revocation of his gun permit after his criminal case was dismissed but was told his appeal would be subject to a review by the firearms licensing unit and would not be heard until May 2021. The hearing has since been moved to July 9 of this year.
Brenner, in his suit, claims his permit should immediately returned to him.
In the lawsuit, Brenner, who is now a nurse, argues that his work takes him into high crime neighborhoods in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and he wants to be able to protect himself while he’s on the job, especially now that the coronavirus pandemic is causing many law enforcement agencies to release inmates back on to the streets.
“The deprivation of the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights is occurring at a time when law enforcement is only arresting for the most serious crimes and prisoners are being released due to COVID-19 health concerns,” the lawsuit states.
Given the fact that Brenner had all charges filed against him dismissed, it should be a no-brainer for his gun license to be restored. The issue seems to be over the timing of the appeal, and it’s unclear why Brenner didn’t file suit earlier. May of 2021 is a long time to wait for an appeal, and even July is a long time away when we’re talking about restoring a constitutional right, but the state will likely argue that, given the chaos caused by the coronavirus and Gov. Ned Lamont’s stay-at-home order, a delay of several months is reasonable under the circumstances.
The state’s court system is already operating under limited hours, and many non-essential services have been curtailed. Of course Brenner doesn’t consider his right to bear arms non-essential, but the question is whether a judge will agree. By the time Brenner gets his decision, there’s a good chance his July hearing will have already taken place. Even if the judge hearing the case rules in Brenner’s favor, the state could always drag out an appeal. I think Brenner has a pretty good case, but I’m not sure he’s going to get the relief he’s asking for, at least from the court system.