Judge Dismisses One Challenge To Gun Control Law

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Shortly after the shooting deaths of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown last December, the legislature acted quickly to restrict ownership of certain types of firearms.

Even before the Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety was approved, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he expected legal challenges. The law, which limited the size of ammunition clips and added 100 firearms to a list of banned weapons, drew almost immediate constitutional challenges from Second Amendment lawyers.

All told, three lawsuits have been filed. The last of those was the first one dismissed. One Dec. 3, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall rejected the arguments of the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Federation, which had argued that the gun control law should be voided because the legislature deviated from its normal practices in passing the measure.

With one of the lawsuits quickly shot down, another awaiting a decision on whether it should be dismissed, and the third facing an argument for dismissal next month, lawyers on both sides of the gun control debate say it could be a relatively short time until challenges to the law are sorted out.

The state Attorney General's Office issued a statement praising Hall's ruling. Spokeswoman Jaclyn Falkowski said the office will continue to defend challenges to the law raised in the remaining lawsuits, including one filed in April on behalf of Disabled Americans For Firearms Rights, and another brought in May by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.

"The measures enacted by the General Assembly in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy are entirely appropriate and lawful, both procedurally and substantively," Falkowski said in the statement. "We will continue to vigorously defense them against any legal challenges, including against any appeal that may be filed of this decision."

The lawsuit that was just dismissed was brought by the National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization whose members include gun stores and manufacturers. The suit argued for the gun law to be overturned because it claimed the law was passed without adequate public input.

The foundation complained that the General Assembly bypassed its normal procedure of holding public hearings on the bill and discussing it in open meetings of legislative committees. After little debate, the House and Senate voted approved the measure on the same day.

Lawrence Keane, the foundation's senior vice president and general counsel, accused legislators of "acting behind closed doors."

In the lawsuit, he argued the tactic of designating the bill "as emergency certified" to bypass the committee and hearing process was unconstitutional.

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