National Shooting Sports Foundation Challenges Legislative Process In Court
The National Shooting Sports Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, legislative leaders, and other state officials for using a process called “emergency certification” when it passed the 139-page gun control bill.
The bill — which was the legislature’s response to the Dec. 14 shooting of 20 children and six educators — was passed on April 4 without first going through the committee and public hearing process, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the General Assembly “misused” the emergency certification process when it passed the legislation.
It claims that House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Sen. President Donald Williams “failed to set forth any facts which necessitated an immediate vote,” when they declared the issue an emergency that could bypass the normal legislative process.
“Because the emergency certification exception dispenses with basic safeguards of the legislative process, the requirements of the exception must be strictly construed such that a certification which lacks ‘the facts which . . . necessitate an immediate vote’ fails to satisfy the requirements of the emergency certification exception,” the complaint reads. “In addition to dispensing with the printing requirements, the emergency certification procedure also permits a bill to bypass the committee and public hearing processes through which the voices of the citizens of Connecticut are communicated to, and may be incorporated into proposed legislation by, their elected representatives.”
By bypassing the process the state deprived “the citizens of Connecticut of any opportunity for their voices to be communicated to the legislators and incorporated into SB 1160,” the complaint reads.
Attorney General George Jepsen, who was named as a defendant and who will defend the state against the lawsuit, has not been served with the complaint.
A spokesman in Jepsen’s office said since they had not seen the lawsuit they would have “no comment about the specific suit at this time.”
However, when previous lawsuits challenging the new gun law have been filed, Jepsen’s office has said “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.”
The new gun law passed in April increases the number of firearms that are banned in the state and limits the size of ammunition magazines. It also reduces the time an insurance company has to make a decision about whether it will cover a mental health event and increases the amount of money available for school security.
Unlike the first two lawsuits, which focus more on the substance of the bill, the National Shooting Sports Foundation lawsuit focused only on the legislative process.
“A 139-page bill was assembled behind closed doors, bypassing both the public hearing and committee processes, and quickly sent to floor votes on the same day in both the House and Senate where legislators did not have adequate time to even read the bill. The governor then signed the package into law the next day. All of this is in violation of guarantees citizens are supposed to have under Connecticut State Statutes and protections in our State and U.S. Constitutions for which our forefathers fought,” Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for NSSF, said. “Our suit focuses on this abuse of process that has resulted in enacted law that does nothing to improve public safety, while resulting in adverse effects on law-abiding citizens, manufacturers, retailers and sportsmen’s organizations.”