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Challenges Mulled As Gun Bill Becomes Law

by | Apr 4, 2013 5:55pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Courts, Town News, Newtown, Law Enforcement, Legal, Public Safety

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie With the ink barely dry on Connecticut’s new gun law, several gun rights groups have announced plans explore legal challenges to the new restrictions.

Flanked by families of some of those murdered at a Newtown elementary school in December, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law the state’s bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation at a ceremony Thursday afternoon in the state Capitol.

The bill, which the General Assembly passed early Thursday morning after more than 13 hours of debate, expands the number of firearms prohibited in Connecticut, bans the sale of ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds, and imposes new eligibility requirements for the purchases of all guns and ammunition. It also creates the first statewide gun offender registry.

“We can never undo the senseless tragedy that took place on Dec. 14 or those tragedies that play themselves out on a daily basis in our cities, but we can take action here in Connecticut and we can make Connecticut towns and cities safer. And this bill does that,” Malloy said.

Second Amendment advocates lobbied heavily against the bill throughout its legislative process. When Malloy signed it into law, several groups released statements announcing their intention to challenge the new law on constitutional grounds.

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, announced his group’s plans to hold a rally at the state Capitol on April 20 to “regroup and renew efforts to challenge this new law.”

“The Connecticut Citizens Defense League stand united with the gun owners of our state, and pledge our resolve to correct this legislative travesty through litigation, or any legal avenue available,” Wilson said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade association based in Newtown, issued a statement alleging there would be unintended consequences to the bill and questioning the state’s public policy.

“We will be carefully studying all provisions of the law for possible challenge in the courts,” the group said.

Attorney General George Jepsen, who as a lawmaker helped pass the state’s 1993 assault weapons ban, said he did not think legal challenges to the law would be successful.

“It is my belief that this important legislation will withstand a court challenge, and my office is prepared to vigorously defend the law, should any court action be filed challenging its constitutionality,” he said.

George Mocsary, a visiting law professor at the University of Connecticut and co-author of Firearms Law & the Second Amendment, said some provisions of the bill “clearly don’t pass [constitutional] muster.”

Mocsary pointed to the provision involving the state’s assault weapons ban, which he said would not pass even the lowest level of constitutional scrutiny.

The state’s existing assault weapons ban specifically prohibited 66 weapons and banned any others that failed a “physical characteristics test.” Under the old law, that test outlawed any weapon with two or more “military-style features.” Those features could include things like a pistol grip on a semi automatic rifle, a flash suppressor, or a telescoping stock.

The new law adds about 100 guns to the specifically-banned list of 66 and amends the “physical characteristic test” so a gun with just one military-style feature would be considered an assault weapon. The expanded definition of assault weapon includes the AR-15 style weapon Adam Lanza, the gunman in Newtown, used to murder 26 people.

Mocsary said the constitutional scrutiny the U.S. Supreme Court has applied to gun control cases have required that governments have at least a rational reason for imposing new firearm restrictions. He said Connecticut’s classification of some weapons as assault rifles—both under existing law and the new law—would fail constitutional muster because they are arbitrary in that they are based on cosmetic appearance.

He used the pistol grip feature as an example of a cosmetic feature:

“It doesn’t affect the functionality. They are no more or less deadly because of a pistol grip,” he said. “There isn’t even a rational basis for banning these weapons. Some people might say because they look scary, but is that how we do things in America?” 

Michael Lawlor, Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy, defended the new law, saying the broadened definition of assault weapons was not arbitrary.

“There’s something unique about these weapons. They’re lightweight, designed for military purposes, and can fire a lot of bullets very quickly,” he said.

Lawlor said in the years since the federal assault weapons ban expired, AR-15 style weapons have become popular and mass shootings have increased at about the same rate as their circulation.

“The Adam Lanzas of the world pick this weapon,” he said.

Lawlor predicted that challenges to the law would fail. He said Connecticut’s Supreme Court upheld its existing assault weapons ban in a unanimous decision in 1995.

Mocsary said lower courts have been reluctant to strike down firearm regulations. He said that is partly because plaintiffs in legal challenges to gun laws are often criminals. Another factor has been regional differences in federal circuit courts.

Connecticut is part of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which also includes New York and Vermont. Mocsary said judges in the Northeast are less likely to declare gun regulations unconstitutional than their counterparts in other regions.

“Given that Connecticut is in the Second Circuit, I think it’s far less likely the law would be struck down at that level,” he said.

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(18) Archived Comments

posted by: timelord | April 4, 2013  7:24pm

I have already asked one organization that specializes in challenging immoral anti-gun laws to help us challenge the new law in court.  This group was largely responsible for the Heller case.

posted by: OutBackJack312 | April 4, 2013  11:05pm


No matter what happens…  In CT you now have to pay to own a gun.  An Assault weapons ban would have taken two pages to write.  This bill was 138 pages and is full of new fees for gun owners to pay.  26 people we killed and our law makers first reaction was lets make some money.  CT’s new laws represent a the disgrace our country has become.  Malloy and his goons insult America and should be tried for treason.

posted by: ad_ebay | April 5, 2013  8:25am

Police are exempt.  Why?
In NYC (the home of the Gun Control bible apostle) cops are strictly regulated on what firearm they are allowed to own and carry off duty.  There are strict “guidelines”.
Why not hold them accountable?
Oh wait…they are Danno’s bodyguards!

posted by: Barry bin Inhalin | April 5, 2013  8:41am

So the restrictions may be unconstitutional, but the political calculation is that liberal judges won’t strike it down? 

Bottom line: it infringes on our rights, period.  That’s undeniable what will ultimately be held.  Large parts are also unenforcable….

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 5, 2013  8:43am

This truly is a screwed up system. I’ve donated to CCDL for the cost of litigation. My taxes will pay for the cost of the state to litigate.

In the end let’s say I get my rights back through the courts.

What happens to the legislators that voted to unlawfully take away my rights? Nothing.

Do I get money back? No, and if I did, it would be money the state doesnt have so they’ll tax me in another way.

Then people like Ed Meyer and Beth Bye will try another scheme to take away rights and it will continue.

There has to be a better way to deal with legislators at the state and federal level from both parties (this is not just a gun issue)that try to rip apart the Constitution. Voting them out doesnt work as they get jobs at some commission manipulating the system from another angle.

posted by: dano860 | April 5, 2013  9:16am

As this settles in and the nation gets a look at the travesty foisted upon us in Connecticut it appears fear is rising in other States that this could happen to them. It boils down to “villianization of citizens”, the many. This stems from victimization and the marterization of a few primarily by the media.
Case in point, the airing of ‘some’ of the parents from Newtown on the much vaulted ubber-liberal 60 Minutes this weekend, as they push for gun control.
The fact that it is ‘some’ of the parents gives pause to question, “what happened to the Newtown parents that were voicing their objection to gun control?”
As I read some of the nations newspapers (online) I find a recurring theme of unintended consequence as a result of the passing of the Connecticut gun control legislation. “Lack of sympathy,” for the Newtown families! It’s another notch in the 15 minutes of fame that Adam Lanza is enjoying. He has made the victims families in Newtown party and part to his debacle. One would never have thought that this would be the result of well intended legislation.
We need to take a long hard look at the way the media is directing our thought process. Thankfully we have sites like this one to get some level headed information.
I would really enjoy a piece reporting on the feelings of a broad spectrum of Newtown residents. We know that the reporting in general claims that this issue is a Republican Vs Democrat one. That is far from the truth, this is an issue that is opposed and supported by ALL political affiliations.
The representatives in the State House made it a party issue, this should have gone to the polls for a popular vote by the people.
From what I have read of the legislation it will do nothing more than cause frustration for the law abiding citizens that enjoy shooting sports. It will cost the State and create more bureaucracy, more lacky jobs that we can’t afford the retirement and health plans on.
The un-intended consequences have just begun to occur.
Lets hope this can be overturned in court.

posted by: borisvian | April 5, 2013  9:53am

The one rational reason we need to ban these weapons is that only unhealthy, scared people want to have them. And, that is reason enough, by default, not to give them any weapons.

We have to save these people from their own fears, and from themselves because they pose the biggest risk to themselves. For instance, many of them shoot their own feet because they forget, the bullets can hurt them, too, not just the “invading” Socialist Army. A gunman is, first and foremost, the biggest danger to himself/herself and to their environment.

In the past two weeks, some 3-4 law enforcement persons were killed, all of them had guns. Obviously, they were unable to protect themselves with their own guns. So much for “good guys” with guns against “bad guys” with guns.

Lets celebrate our freedom and our rights to live in a gunless, peaceful society.

posted by: ASTANVET | April 5, 2013  10:26am

if they make the “law” NO one should be exempt.  That creates seperate classes of citizens - I thought you dems were all about closing loopholes.  It is either a bad thing to have AR-15’s or it is not - take them from the police first - make them carry .38 cal revolvers again - see how much support you get for that!

posted by: Greg | April 5, 2013  10:38am

Unlikely.  Our genius laws are modeled after CA with a few minor exceptions and the CA AWB has yet to be successfully challenged.  Perhaps the entire permitting nonsense may have some basis for challenge but AWB- no. High cap mag ban- no. 

In this state with the courts we’re dealing with…don’t hold your breath on any magical judicial overturn of this law.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 5, 2013  10:49am

What right is it that we have a gunless society? I must have missed that one.

Its really a shame that when the Constitution was done that they rewrote what they had written a few years earlier under the Declaration of Rights. The second amendment is clear but here is what a local guy you may have heard of said which I think helps clear up any intention.

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.

—Noah Webster

posted by: Greg | April 5, 2013  10:53am

Boris- I believe you should volunteer to go through Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport and take away all the guns from the fine folks that live there and back up your “gunless society” rhetoric with action.  Don’t hide behind the legislature,  Lead by example and many will follow. 

If we’re going to be a gunless society as you desire, someone needs to take the guns away…Let us know how it goes.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 5, 2013  10:58am

I contend that there alot of people out there that arent following this issue as closely as both sides of the issue represented on this web site.

They’re watching it and when we have our next natural disaster or something bad happens and they go to buy ammo or a long gun, they’ll have a wakeup call.

These are the people that think that no one needs an AR 15 and high cap magazines, but they are gun owners or want to be gun owners and dont realize how this bill will impact them.

To some of these people more checks and balances in the system sounds good until the numbers come out as to the cost of the bureaucracy as their taxes go up.

I’ve been a permit holder for 25 years in this state and I honestly cant recall being on a shooting range and standing next to gang bangers. They have their gun and their ammo and they’ll practice when they use it.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 5, 2013  11:26am

Police State= when only the police have guns

The thing is that every police officer I know is against most of what was just passed in this bill. I guess they dont knoww what they’re talking about.

The Chiefs who are political appointees are overwhelming for it. Funny how there is such a discrepancy between those two groups and very very sad the discrepancy between our state and most other states in this country.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 5, 2013  11:31am

I wonder what CT news Junkie thinks of this.

This guy was going to be found guilty or insane, so I really dont see any reason to make this an issue other than it doesnt fit someones agenda. I wonder if someone at CT News Junkie found out some nugget of new information about the Newtown situation and told us if they would be hauled in front of a judge? I think so, and there isn’t even a person to try for this.

Maybe its a HIPAA issue and if so good luck making background checks work.


posted by: Hebee | April 5, 2013  12:51pm

This could have been so much worse; if you are aware of the suggested proposals that came from Legislators like Looney and Bye. I really don’t know what all the complaining is about unless it is from people that can’t pass muster for the new certificates. If you already have a pistol permit, you are barely inconvenienced. If you own the newly banned weapons or mags, you can still use them. I think most of these people screaming foul probably can’t pass the background check. If you are a criminal or a nut, you can’t buy a handgun, rifle or ammo now. Don’t see a problem here. If you have such a huge problem with a Universal Background Check on every purchase then YOU are probably the reason why they want those checks performed in the first place.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 6, 2013  8:59pm

I think people think that gun owners hate every aspect of the bill. That would be false. We hate the parts that make good guys criminals or taxes us for being good guys.

I think everyone would agree that the violent offender with a gun registry is a good idea. Sort of like a sex offender registry.

Well, now it comes out that the criminals names are protected on this registry and only police have access.

These legislators don’t care about anyone’s safety. They let prisoners out early, make it harder for good people to protect themselves, and now they do a good thing but protect the criminals and leave their neighbors unaware.

How can anyone wonder why the contempt for these people is so great? Oh Im sorry. I meant the legislators. I have no problem with the criminals. We know their agenda.

posted by: shootist | April 7, 2013  7:30am

If this bill was really about saving lives and not about control & growing the government again, then I’m absolutely sure that the next issue on the legislators & governors agenda has to be about the 14000 lives a year, that’s 38 lives a day that are lost to abortions in CT. That is unless they are all hypocrites.

posted by: lebron | April 8, 2013  10:15am

A Foreboding Warning
Once the Government has your number,
Whether it’s your firearm or your forearm
It’s all but over.
It’s all about confiscation

molṑn labé

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