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Disabled Man Claims New Gun Regulations Are Unconstitutional

by Hugh McQuaid | Apr 11, 2013 4:55pm
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Legal, Public Safety

A lawyer representing a disabled New London man is suing the state over its newly expanded assault weapons prohibition, which he says violates his client’s constitutional rights as a disabled gun owner.

The bill, which the governor signed into law a week ago in response to the December murders of 20 first graders and six educators in a Newtown elementary school, makes sweeping changes to the state’s gun regulations.

Included in the changes is an expansion of the number of firearms prohibited in Connecticut. Under the new law, weapons like the AR-15-style rifle used in the Newtown massacre are prohibited from future sale. It also bans the sale of ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds.

Scott Ennis, a New London man with Hemophilia A, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the law as is the group he founded, Disabled Americans for Firearms Rights. In the complaint, Ennis’s lawyer Scott Camassar argues that the recently-enacted bans violate the rights of disabled gun owners.

Camassar singles out AR-15-style weapons as convenient weapons for people with disabilities.

“The AR-15, due to its ease of handling, low recoil, adjustable features, and customizability, is particularly suited for disabled persons in order to engage in lawful use of firearms, including hunting, recreational and competitive shooting, and personal self-defense,” the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, disabled individuals need the customizable and adjustable features of AR-15-style guns. The features the lawsuit names include characteristics that, under the new gun violence law, make a weapon an assault rifle. Those features include a pistol grip or a telescoping stock.

The lawsuit also claims that the prohibition on the future sale of ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds also violate the rights of gun owners.

“This provision is vague, ambiguous, and unfairly and arbitrarily deprives law-abiding disabled citizens . . . of their fundamental rights to bear arms, including participation in shooting sports, hunting, and lawful self defense, in that ‘large capacity magazines’ are convenient and necessary for disabled persons such as the plaintiffs to participate in these lawful activities,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint asks the court to prohibit the state from enforcing the law.

Attorney General George Jepsen’s office issued as statement saying they were reviewing the complaint and would respond to it in court.

“However, it is our belief that this legislation is lawful, and the Office of the Attorney General is prepared to vigorously defend the law against this and any other potential court challenge,” Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen, said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s spokesman Andrew Doba said the administration expected legal challenges to the new regulations.

“We’ve known for some time that groups opposed the to the new gun violence prevention law would be filing suit against it. We believe the bill improves public safety, and we will work with the Attorney General’s office to defend it,” he said.

Malloy is the only named defendant in the lawsuit.

Asked Thursday about the potential for lawsuits challenging the law, Malloy said the bill was well-thought out and would hold up. 

“I would point out that we had an assault weapons ban in the United States for over 10 years. It was never successfully challenged,” he said. “I think, by and large, this package is on strong footing.”

The governor also reacted to recent news that PTR, a firearms manufacturer in Bristol, planned to relocate its business in response to the bill’s passage. In a statement on its website, the company criticized the process that produced to the bill and the impact of the new regulations. It encouraged other gun manufacturers to leave Connecticut.

“We are making a call to all involved in our industry to leave this state, close your doors and show our politicians the true consequences of their hasty and uninformed actions. We encourage those in our industry to abandon this state as its leaders have abandoned the proud heritage that forged our freedom,” the statement said.

Malloy said his office was mailing a second letter to gun manufacturers, encouraging them to stay in the state if they are selling products that can be legally sold in the country.

“I’m concerned for the welfare of any legitimate business in Connecticut. You want them to be successful, you want them to do well,” he said.

Malloy said he and the legislature tried to stack the welfare of manufacturers against public safety, and after the Newtown incident, the state moved toward stricter gun control on a bipartisan basis.

“We lost 26 of our residents. Twenty children — 20 babies and six adults,” he said.

The governor said he did not believe there would be a vast number of jobs lost in the state if firearms manufacturers leave in response to the new law.

“There aren’t that many gun companies in Connecticut. This is not the Connecticut immediately following the second World War in which Bridgeport was the second largest munitions manufacturing center in the United States. Those companies have left Connecticut over a long period of time,” he said.

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(8) Comments

posted by: lkulmann | April 11, 2013  7:16pm

This is actually a great business idea. My son has significant disabilities and practically everything we have owned has been adapted in one way or another. These big gun companies should make guns easily adaptable or accessible for the disabled. Sue the gun companies too. They are violating the ADA by making guns for self protection inaccessible for people with disabilities. You have a Constitutional right to defend yourself. Besides CT is broke. You’ll probably get   more $$$ from Colt. They are leaving CT anyway. Giv’em a little shakedown before they leave…

posted by: jenand | April 12, 2013  1:11pm

A man with hemophilia picks guns as a hobby? Just a kickback bruise or pinched trigger finger might be fatal, eh, right? I just can’t get behind this one. Citizens’ welfare much higher up in priority -sorry

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | April 12, 2013  2:20pm

DrHunterSThompson

The truth of the matter is the new gun legislation is simply not sound enough to withstand constitutional challenge - on several fronts. What should be disturbing to CT residents is the knee-jerk reaction and resulting legislation. It is going to be an expensive and gut-wrenching experience to defend.

As I have campaigned all along, this session should have been about mental health and background checks only - with a task force to study what next. The guns need to be left alone until congress is ready to act.

This whole thing is very unfortunate. We need new legislators, etc.

HST

posted by: timelord | April 12, 2013  2:26pm

@jenand: So it’s your responsibility to approve or disapprove of people’s hobbies?  Just about every hobby can produce cuts and bruises.  Even if your only “hobby” were reading books you could still get a nasty paper cut!

I’d also like to remind you that we live in a REPUBLIC where people have rights. As the Constitution recognizes, these rights are not given to people by government and cannot be taken away by government - or by other people.  So your contention that “Citizens’ welfare much higher up in priority” [sic] over the rights of an individual is simply wrong!

No person has more rights than another person, and no group of people has more rights than a single person.

That was the entire basis for the creation of the United States of America. It’s clearly spelled out in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  People gathered and agreed to create a government. Government is *always* subservient to the people.  It’s just unfortunate that the last 100+ years of reality doesn’t reflect that intent.

posted by: lkulmann | April 12, 2013  2:49pm

@drhunter…‘until Congress is ready to act’ ... that’s a good one!

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | April 12, 2013  3:23pm

DrHunterSThompson

I know,  huh?

HST

posted by: GuilfordResident | April 15, 2013  7:43am

This isn’t about “knee-jerk” reactions. It is about the gun-abolitionist taking all guns from all citizens. The political will is there. The mechanisms for doing this are not. They will make hunting unpopular (like tobacco .. I’m indifferent on tobacco). Clearly the Second Amendment was meant to have civilian (free persons ... not criminals) firearms vastly outnumber the military to protect against tyranny and despotism. Clearly, Article 1, Section 15 of the CT State Constitution provides for personal defense and defense of the state. Do not rationalize the gun-abolitionist as misunderstanding your rights or lawful uses of firearms by law-abiding citizens. This is a systematic and opportunistic de-firearming of all persons.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 15, 2013  10:04am

The more time since Dec 14th the more I see crazy people in society. I don’t mean the average person with our own quirks and challenges, but more people that are just incapable of dealing with life or they’re just so pathetic that they need mental health intervention for what amounts to be the equivalent of a hang nail.

I think people in elected government know this and they have no idea how to even begin dealing with it.

In this case you have physical disabilities and the legislators heard this would be an issue but they slammed it into the bill anyways. They basically said “you people with physical disabilities can take us to court. You might win, but the reason we did this is because there are many more nut jobs out there that will use the characteristic of the guns we ban to play GI Joe and we dont know how to stop them.

I think you can control alot of crazy behavior by knife wielding nuts and women who throw their toddler so they can go fight other people on city buses by putting them in FEMA camps or putting a bullet in the back of their heads. That would work for sure. Yes its unconstitutional but who cares about the constitution these days anyways?