Federal Court Judge Backs Conn. Gun Control Laws

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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A federal judge has upheld gun control laws approved by the state legislature last year following the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. In a 47-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello stated on Thursday that the law is constitutional.

Connecticut organizations that support gun rights, pistol permit holders and gun sellers sued Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other state officials. The law added more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban and imposed other restriction, including restrictions on the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Covello agreed that the gun control measures affect the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights, but he said it is permissible under the state's interest in public safety and crime control.

"The court made the right decision today," said Gov. Dannel Malloy. "The common-sense measures we enacted last session will make our state safer, and I am grateful for the court's seal of approval...Let's not forget that this has happened before. In prior instances when Connecticut has passed related firearms laws, there have been similar challenges and they have all been unsuccessful."

Attorney Brian Stapleton, who practices in both Stamford and White Plains, N.Y., represents the plaintiffs, which include the Connecticut Citizen's Defense League and Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. The National Rifle Association had also filed an amicus brief in the case.

On Thursday evening, Stapleton told the Law Tribune that he plans to appeal the decision.

In a lawsuit filed in May 2013, Stapleton claimed the new law is overly broad and violates the Second Amendment.

In late August, Stapleton took the unusual step of filing a motion for summary judgment, even before the case was fully briefed. The reason, he said, was that Covello asked the plaintiffs to submit a motion in support of their cause of action.

The decision was reached on the day that an oral argument had been scheduled on the motion for summary judgment. That hearing was reportedly cancelled by the judge without explanation two weeks ago.

"We are disappointed with Judge Covello's decision," said Stapleton. "This is a long way from over. This is why we have courts of appeals."

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