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Ruling Upholds Connecticut's Expansive Firearm and Magazine Bans Despite Findings that Banned Items are Commonly Used for Lawful Purposes

Friday, January 31, 2014

On January 30, 2014, a federal court judge upheld Connecticut's new gun control law as constitutional, notwithstanding its finding that "the act burdens the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights …."  The ruling comes from U.S. District Court Judge Alfred Covello in response to a lawsuit filed last May challenging the constitutionality of Connecticut's new gun control legislation. In April, the Connecticut legislature hastily passed wide-ranging restrictions on Connecticut gun owners that embody several long-term planks of the anti-gunners' agenda, including an expanded ban on so-called "assault weapons," restrictions on magazine capacity, expansion of an existing "eligibility certificate" requirement to all firearms and ammunition, an expanded ban of private transfers, and registration of all non-conforming firearms and magazines, the possession of which was grandfathered under the law.

The plaintiffs in Shew v. Malloy, backed by the NRA, included the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, gun store owners, and individual citizens and focused on the bans of more than 100 additional commonly-owned firearms, as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The case challenged the melodramatically and inaccurately titled law, "An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety," for violating plaintiffs' rights under the Second Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and for containing provisions that are unconstitutionally vague.

Covello dismissed all three constitutional challenges in the 47-page decision. In assessing the common use of semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines, Covello invoked the Heller decision and found that that these firearms and magazines are, in fact, commonly owned and legally used nationwide, including in Connecticut.  He then disregarded his own findings of fact and wrote that the ban is justified because the government's asserted goal of reducing violence outweighs the Act's infringement on Second Amendment rights. Nevertheless, in finding that the bans satisfied intermediate scrutiny, he acknowledged that the "court cannot foretell how successful the legislation will be in preventing crime." He further acknowledged the vagueness of several provisions in the legislation and their need for clarity, but still dismissed any claim that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

Covello's decision was similar to the adverse ruling recently handed down in a case challenging New York's so-called "SAFE" Act. In both cases, the courts relied on the fact that although the banned weapons were commonly used for lawful purposes, other options still existed for people wishing to exercise their rights.  Needless to say, such reasoning would hardly be tenable if the government were to ban books or close places of worship, merely because other options it considered more acceptable were still available.  Also, notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that self-defense is at the "core" of the rights protected by the Second Amendment, both courts used the "lethality" of the banned firearms as a basis to reduce the protection they receive under the Second Amendment.  Whether further appellate review will resolve these contradictions, or perhaps merely add to them, remains to be seen.

An appeal in this case is already underway, and NRA will be sure to inform its members of any new developments. As NRA continues to take up similar battles in courtrooms across the nation, it is more important than ever to focus on making pro-gun gains in state legislatures and Congress this election season. The only way to prevent ill-informed court rulings that affect our fundamental, constitutional rights is to stop giving opportunities to anti-gun lawmakers both to pass unconstitutional legislation and to appoint judges who have no familiarity, understanding, or appreciation of firearms and their role in the fundamental right of self-defense.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Missouri: Permitless Carry Self-Defense Legislation Overwhelmingly Passes House, Headed to Senate

Today, the Missouri House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1468.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oklahoma: Hunting with Suppressors Legislation Signed into Law

Yesterday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2637 into law and it goes into effect immediately.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Connecticut: Anti-Gun Bills Expected for Floor Vote Tomorrow

One or both of the anti-gun bills, House Bill 5054 and House Bill 5623, may be called as early as tomorrow to go to the House floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives.  Both HB 5054 and ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

California: Anti-Gun Bills Still Alive After Policy Committee Deadline

After a busy week of hearings, Friday April 22nd marked the deadline for bills with a fiscal note to be passed out of their respective policy committees. Bills not meeting this deadline are considered defeated ...


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Merrick Garland MUST NOT be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Senate needs to hear from you TODAY that Merrick Garland MUST NOT be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Political Report | Disarmament Cloaked as "Common Sense"

Gun control advocates have been at their civilian-disarmament campaign for so long that astute observers will notice the same tactics and approaches returning time and again to the political landscape. When the American public rejects ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Missouri: Urgent - Stand Your Ground Amendment to be Considered by Senate

Today, Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) amended Senate Bill 663 with critical self-defense language, known as Stand Your Ground.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Connecticut: Gun Surrender Bill Moving through the General Assembly

Yesterday, April 27, House Bill 5054 passed the House of Representatives with a 104-42 vote.  HB 5054 is a large omnibus bill which threatens your Right to Keep and Bear Arms as well as your Fifth Amendment right to ...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rhode Island: Wave of Gun Legislation Rolls Into the Ocean State

Tomorrow, April 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to consider a full agenda including over a dozen gun bills.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hypocrisy on Firearms Enforcement? Congressman Beyer, Heal Thyself!

On April 11, U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA) rolled out his so-called ATF Enforcement Act, H.R. 4905 in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.  Beyer claimed hypocrisy on the part of NRA and other pro-gun advocates who ...


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.