Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, passed after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, was found by a federal judge not to violate gun owners’ constitutional rights.
U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello concluded the state’s legitimate interest in protecting citizens allows it to restrict firearms.
“While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” Covello said in his ruling yesterday.
The judge said the firearms and magazines that the Connecticut law prohibits are in common use elsewhere in the U.S., and as such they are protected under the Second Amendment. At the same time, the law isn’t a complete prohibition on firearms for self-defense in the home, according to the ruling.
Connecticut lawmakers passed the law in April, four months after a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other states, including New York, Colorado, and Maryland also tightened their gun laws in response to the shooting.
After President Barack Obama’s gun-control proposals stalled in Congress, his administration took steps this month to tighten gun background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. National support for gun-control measures slipped to 49 percent in a CNN poll conducted Nov. 18-20, the lowest since 1996. Last January, a month after the Sandy Hook shooting, 55 percent said they supported stricter gun laws.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Connecticut Citizens Defense League Inc., said on its website it would appeal yesterday’s decision.
Stephen Halbrook, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message after regular business hours yesterday seeking comment on the ruling.
In addition to expanding an existing ban on assault-style weapons to add more than 100 firearms, the Connecticut law requires background checks for all buyers and prohibits the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Gun owners would need to undergo a background check to get a certificate required to buy cartridges, while those with a banned model or magazine would have to register with the state.
The case is Shew v. Malloy, 13-00739, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (New Haven).