In this post I will try and provide my interpretation (in plain English) of the current Connecticut gun laws surrounding the AR-15 type rifle. I am in no way a lawyer, and although I believe these statements to be accurate, you must check with your local authorities before purchasing or obtaining a firearm.
Now that we got the disclaimer stuff out of the way, let's start with a little background information.
We are going to focus on the AR-15 type rifle. Most people will immediately notice it's resemblance to the M-16 automatic rifle like which was carried in Vietnam. The M-16 is an "automatic" rifle . By automatic, we mean you press the trigger and it continues to shoot until you let off, or the ammo runs out. In Connecticut, it is illegal to have an "automatic" weapon of any make or type (see notes for exceptions), it is also illegal to have a weapon which can readily be made into an "automatic" , or to have parts to make a weapon into an "automatic".
The original Colt AR-15 was a "selective fire" rifle (more on that later). Today, several manufacturers produce AR-15 spec rifles with the exception that they are semi-automatic only. In the case of a "semi-automatic" rifle, you squeeze the trigger, and one round is fired. You then need to let off the trigger and re-squeeze it to fire another round. These manufacturer's include:
Rock River Arms
In Connecticut, it is also illegal to have a "selective fire" weapon meaning the user can select different firing options including:
Automatic fire (see above)
Burst fire (typically this is a 3 round burst with a single pull of the trigger)
Semi-automatic fire ( one round per squeeze)
Any weapon which allows you to select different firing modes is considered an "assault weapon", and is not legal to have in your possession in CT.
It is also illegal to own any of the following specific firearms determined to be "assault rifles":
Australian Automatic Arms SAP Pistol
Auto-Ordnance Thompson type
Avtomat Kalashnikov AK-47 type
Barrett Light-Fifty model 82A1
Bushmaster Auto Rifle and Auto Pistol
Calico models M-900, M-950 and 100-P
Chartered Industries of Singapore SR-88
Colt AR-15 and Sporter
Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max-1 and Max-2
Encom MK-IV, MP-9 and MP-45
Fabrique Nationale FN/FAL, FN/LAR, or FN/FNC FAMAS MAS 223
Feather AT-9 and Mini-AT
Federal XC-900 and XC-450
Franchi SPAS-12 and LAW-12
Galil AR and ARM
Goncz High-Tech Carbine and High-Tech Long Pistol
Heckler & Koch HK-91, HK-93, HK-94 and SP-89
MAC-10, MAC-11 and MAC-11 Carbine type
Intratec TEC-9 and Scorpion
Iver Johnson Enforcer model 3000
Ruger Mini-14/5F folding stock model only
Scarab Skorpion SIG 57 AMT and 500 series
Spectre Auto Carbine and Auto Pistol
Springfield Armory BM59, SAR-48 and G-3
Sterling MK-6 and MK-7
Street Sweeper and Striker 12 revolving cylinder shotguns
UZI Carbine, Mini-Carbine and Pistol
Weaver Arms Nighthawk
Wilkinson "Linda" Pistol
OK, so know we understand that we can't own an automatic or selective fire weapon in CT, so that means we just need to find a semi-auto only version from any of the manufacturer's and we are legal right? Wrong!
We also need to be concerned with some specific banned "features". These features are typically referred to as "pre-ban" features, as they were identified an outlawed in the Federal 1994 Crime Bill. Connecticut lawmakers then passed state law that was based on the 1994 Crime Bill. Although the Federal 1994 Crime Bill has since sunset, the CT laws have not.
What are these "pre-ban" features you ask?
a) a folding or telescoping stock
b) a bayonet lug
c) a threaded barrel end
d) a flash suppressor
e) a grenade launcher
This means, that if you want an AR-15 style rifle, by default it will have a detachable magazine, and a pistol grip, therefore you hit the CT legal limit of features on that rifle. Anything else makes it an "assault rifle". That means you can't have that a 6 position tactical stock that collapses, you can't have an upper assembly that has a bayonet lug, flash suppressor, etc.
What can you have? You can have something with "post-ban" features like the AR-15 pictured on my blog. My AR-15 is actually built from a Stag Arms lower receiver, the complete lower was built by Stag Arms, and has the ability to shoot in semi-auto mode only, and came with a stock looks like a tactical telescoping unit, but in fact is fixed. My DPMS upper has a "Bull Barrel" which means it doesn't have any flash suppressor or muzzle break attached. It also doesn't have a bayonet lug, or grenade launcher either, therefore it is legal in CT.
I should mention that you can own an AR-15 with a "muzzle break" which looks a lot like a flash hider, but it must be permanently attached i.e. welded, and not threaded on to the end of the barrel.
A few comments about the exceptions to owning automatic weapons. There was a time in which if you owned an automatic weapon, you could register it with the state and it would still be legal to own to this day. That time has gone, it is now illegal to own one unless it has been properly registered some time ago.
In respect to the exceptions on owning "pre-ban" weapons. It is legal to own a "pre-ban" rifle if and only if it was completely built prior to September 13th 1994. This means the entire rifle as a whole was 100% assembled and complete at this date, in addition you will need paperwork to prove this. There is a large misconception out there, that a person can purchase an AR15 lower that was built prior to September 13th, 1994 and add a pre-ban upper. This is definitely not legal. Owning anything other than a completed rifle built prior to Sept 13th 1994 with these features is not legal. If you do come across a "pre-ban" for sale, you will pay a large premium for the rifle, as well as want to see the documentation proving it was a complete rifle prior to 9/13/1994.