A federal court judge ruled Thursday that the state’s new gun control law passes constitutional muster, even if it is a burden on gun owners.
The ruling comes from U.S. District Court Judge Alfred Covello on a lawsuit filed last May in response to new gun control regulations. The legislature passed new firearm legislation on a bipartisan basis in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The plaintiffs, including the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, gun store owners, and individual citizens alleged that the law was unconstitutional and provisions within it were too vague to apply.
In a 47-page ruling released Thursday, Covello disagreed.
“The court concludes that the legislation is constitutional. While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” the decision reads.
The judge agreed that some of the law’s language was vague, but not enough to make the law unconstitutional.
“. . . while several provisions of the legislation are not written with the utmost clarity, they are not impermissibly vague in all of their applications and, therefore, the challenged portions of the legislation are not unconstitutionally vague,” he said.
In an email, CCDL President Scott Wilson said the plaintiffs may quickly appeal the decision.
“We are not entirely surprised by the judge’s ruling at this phase. We are prepared to let the lawyers for all of the plaintiffs appeal this decision forthwith,” he said.
Attorney General George Jepsen said his office was gratified by the decision.
“The measures enacted by the General Assembly in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy are entirely appropriate, sensible, and lawful. We will continue to vigorously defend them in the event of any appeal that may be filed of this decision,” he said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a statement Thursday evening saying the court made the right decision.
“The common-sense measures we enacted last session will make our state safer, and I am grateful for the court’s seal of approval,” he said.
In the decision, Covello said the government had demonstrated an interest in enacting the law’s ban on certain rifles and ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds.
“Connecticut’s General Assembly made its legislative judgment concerning assault weapon and LCM possession after the mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” he wrote. “The decision to prohibit their possession was premised on the belief that it would have an appreciable impact on public safety and crime prevention. The evidence suggests that there is a substantial governmental interest in restricting both assault weapons and LCMs.”