So holds last week’s Barletta v. Rilling (D. Conn. Sept. 26, 2013), in a decision that — if upheld — may pave the way for similar decisions with regard to bans on gun ownership by (nearly) all felons. The court applies the “rational basis” test, under which nearly all legal classifications are upheld, but concludes that this classification fails even that highly deferential test:
A rational nexus between a conviction for any and every felony offense and the fitness to act as a precious metals dealer simply does not exist. The legislature has not drawn any distinctions beyond the classification of felon; it has not written the statute to conform to the legitimate state interest of protecting the public from unscrupulous dealers. Many unsuitable applicants can obtain licenses, yet many suitable applicants cannot.
Felony crimes range widely, and many do not implicate the purposes identified by the State as justifying the ban. Federal felonies include mishandling of environmental pollutants, draft dodging, and certain offenses involving fish, wildlife and plants. State felonies include violating a sexton’s burial duties, illegally assisting a disabled voter, injuring a peace officer animal, and violating pollution requirements. See OLR Research Report, 2012-R-0358, Unclassified Felonies (2012). Many, if not most, of the hundreds of federal felonies and more than 265 Connecticut felonies, have no tendency whatsoever to predict unsuitability for licensure based on the interests that the State claims section 21-100(a)’s felony bar was enacted to protect.
At the same time, many misdemeanors reflect conduct that seems to be more relevant to the state’s legitimate goals than the conduct underlying many felonies. For example, illegal sale of used motor vehicle parts, illegal ticket scalping, issuing a bad check, and forgery are all misdemeanors. Moreover, the fortuity of plea bargaining may reduce felonious conduct to a misdemeanor