Thursday, August 3, 2023

Federal Court Dismisses Appeal Against Connecticut's Ban on Assault Weapons

Firearms training unit Det. Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the December 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, during a hearing of a legislative subcommittee in Hartford, Conn., on Jan. 28, 2013. AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File


On Thursday, a federal court verdict disregarded a pivotal challenge brought by a pro-gun rights organization against Connecticut's ban on assault weapons, a regulation put in place following the tragic 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators.

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) initiated a legal battle in September, contending that the 2013 prohibition breached the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms. Their argument leaned on a substantial Supreme Court ruling from the previous year that broadened gun rights.

The ruling, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, was issued by the Supreme Court's predominant conservative majority. It stated that the Second Amendment ensures an individual's right to publicly carry a handgun for self-protection.

Furthermore, it put forth a novel test for examining the legality of firearm regulations, asserting that they must align with "this nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation." According to the NAGR, the Connecticut legislation failed this criterion.

However, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, based in New Haven, dismissed these assertions in a detailed 74-page decision. She stated that the group could not prove that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are typically purchased and utilized for self-defense.

Arterton, who was appointed by former Democratic President Bill Clinton, pointed to "convincing" evidence provided by the state demonstrating that these firearms are often sought for their military-style features and frequently used in criminal activity and mass shootings. 

She concluded that "The Nation has a longstanding history and tradition of regulating those aspects of the weapons or manners of carry that correlate with rising firearm violence," and that Connecticut's ban aligns with this objective.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, lauded the decision, asserting that it validates the strong legal basis for Connecticut's ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in light of the Bruen ruling from the Supreme Court.

The ruling was met with opposition from the NAGR's legal division, the National Foundation for Gun Rights. Executive Director Hannah Hill has pledged to appeal the decision, criticizing it as "just one more instance of leftist judges refusing to follow the simple, clear guidance of Bruen."

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