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Constitutional: Federal Court Upholds Connecticut Gun Law

While gun control advocates celebrate the news, those who brought forth the suit say this is far from over.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
A federal judge Thursday dismissed a claim that has been at the heart of the gun control debate in Connecticut — that a state law banning assault weapons violates rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.

"While the act burdens the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control," U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello writes in his 47-page decision, upholding the legality of the state's law.

The law, which is considered among the toughest in the nation, was enacted last year in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook School that left 20 students and six educators dead.

In a statement issued late Thurday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, “The court made the right decision today. The common-sense measures we enacted last session will make our state safer, and I am grateful for the court’s seal of approval."

The office of Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen provided the arguments in defense of the constitutionality of the law.

"We are heartened by Judge Covello’s ruling that has reaffirmed consistent rulings in other jurisdictions that banning military style assault weapons in the interest of public safety does not constitute an infringement of Second Amendment rights," Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), said.

CAGV, along with its partner group March for Change, lobbied for the law in the wake of the shooting in Newtown.

'This is a Long Way From Over'

Brian T. Stapleton, a New York-based attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the Hartford Courant:

"This is a long way from over. We respect Judge Covello, but respectfully disagree with him. An appeal was anticipated in this case. There are findings that we can work with and we are going to do everything we can to get this overturned." 

In his statement, Malloy said, “Let’s not forget that this has happened before.  In prior instances when Connecticut has passed related firearms laws, there have been similar challenges and they have all been unsuccessful.”

A Renewed Call for Stricter Federal Gun Laws

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) applauded the court's decision, too. In a statement released Friday, the Congresswoman said, “Connecticut led the nation by enacting comprehensive legislation that respects Americans’ Second Amendment rights and makes our communities safer. This decision is an important step forward in addressing the epidemic of gun violence."

Earlier this week, Esty joined U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) in introducing a resolution that calls for renewed congressional action to address what she characterized as "the ever-growing impact of gun violence on American communities." 

Congress failed to enact new gun laws last year, despite a push from President Barack Obama, who visited Newtown in the days after the shooting.

“When more than 30 people die every single day by gun violence, our country needs to do more. It’s time for Congress to listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who support reform and pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation," Esty said. "The price of political inaction is unacceptable and inexcusable.”

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