CTNJ file photo

More than a year after a federal court upheld sweeping changes to Connecticut’s gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting, a three-judge panel has affirmed that decision.

A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which also heard arguments regarding a similar New York law, concluded that “the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, and that the challenged individual provisions are not void for vagueness.”

The decision regarding Connecticut was reversed in part to exclude a Remington 7615 from the list of banned weapons. It found it was not a semi-automatic weapon and banning it did infringe on the Second Amendment.

The Appeals Court addressed the arguments of Second Amendment groups, who helped bring the lawsuit. The groups argued that mass shootings are rare events and should have no impact on gun control laws.

While that may be true, the court found that “gun-control legislation ‘need not strike at all evils at the same time’ to be constitutional.”

Judge Jose Cabranes wrote for the three-judge panel that “because the prohibitions are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public safety and crime reduction, they pass constitutional muster.”

In upholding the ban on large-capacity magazines, the court agreed that those types of events where they are used result in “more shots fired, persons wounded, and wounds per victim than do other gun attacks.”

In Newtown the shooter used multiple large-capacity magazines and fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes.

“This decision is deeply gratifying, particularly in light of the terrible events that gave rise to the laws challenged in this case,” Attorney General George Jepsen said. “At a time when many Americans have abandoned hope of government’s ability to address gun violence in our schools and on our streets, Connecticut’s laws – and today’s decision –  demonstrate that willing states can enact meaningful reform to improve public safety without violating the Second Amendment.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who championed the passage of the bipartisan legislation and grieved with the families many of whom he met on the worst day of their life, said he feels “gratified that Connecticut is being recognized by the Second Circuit as having acted appropriately.”

He said the law was not vague and the limit on the size of magazines was upheld.

“I think that law has made us safer in this state,” Malloy added at an unrelated press conference Monday.

He called the reversal of the “pump action shotgun” the result of a “typo.”

Connecticut’s law bans 183 assault weapons by make and model.

The plaintiffs, including the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, gun store owners, and individual citizens alleged that the law, which prospectively banned the sale and purchase of these weapons and large-capacity magazines, was unconstitutional and its provisions were too vague to apply.

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said they were hoping for a more favorable decision, “but we are not surprised that this decision was handed down from this level.” He said they are still working with their attorneys and preparing for the next round.

“We knew all along that we would end up appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn this clear injustice of our 2nd Amendment rights,” Wilson said. “We have 90 days from this ruling, and our attorneys will file a petition for certiorari within that time frame.”

Wilson added: “We know that we are on the right side of this matter, and Connecticut gun owners will not surrender our constitutional rights. We will exhaust every possible avenue to preserve those rights”.

Connecticut Against Gun Violence applauded the decision. In an email, the organization called it a “major victory” for “common-sense gun laws.”