Second Amendment advocates outside the Connecticut State Capitol in 2013. Credit: Christine Stuart file photo

A firearm rights group is taking aim at assault weapon bans and limits to magazine capacities with federal lawsuits in several states, including Connecticut.

The National Association for Gun Rights filed a lawsuit against Connecticut’s post-Sandy Hook firearms law that prohibits most people from owning semi-automatic rifles and magazines with more than 10 bullets. 

The lawsuit filed by the organization and New Milford resident Patricia Brought claims “millions of law-abiding citizens own and use for lawful purposes semi-automatic firearms such as the Banned Firearms currently possessed by Plaintiffs.”

The lawsuit goes onto to claim the state statutes use “politically charged rhetoric” to describe “large capacity” magazines.” It says the magazines pass the “common use” test and are not excessive, but infringe on the plaintiffs’ right to keep and bear arms. 

While the law passed in 2013 under former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has sustained previous legal challenges, a U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door to new litigation against the law. 

A few months ago the court struck down New York’s concealed handgun licensing process in a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas. While the new lawsuit doesn’t specifically challenge the handgun licensing process it did open the door to these types of new lawsuits against other types of restrictions like the ones in the 2013 Connecticut law. 

Following that decision, the court can only look at historical analysis and whether the regulation at issue is “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” 

“If there’s no pre-existing comparable historic regulation, it’s likely unconstitutional,” Chief Counsel to Connecticut’s Attorney General Cara Passaro wrote in a two-page memo in June.

“The consequences of this decision for public safety nationwide and here in Connecticut are profound,” Passaro wrote. “The framers of the Constitution could never have envisioned the AR-15 used to slaughter children and educators in Sandy Hook. They did not know that ghost guns could be 3D printed at home and untraceable when used in violent crimes. They could never have imagined that firearms would become the leading cause of death amongst our children.”

The lawsuit was criticized Friday by Attorney General William Tong. 

“Connecticut cannot and will not allow these weapons of war back into our communities,” Tong said. “Not after Sandy Hook, after Uvalde, after Buffalo, Parkland, Orlando, and far too many more senseless tragedies. We need strong, commonsense gun safety laws now more than ever.”

Gov. Ned Lamont joined Tong in his promise to defend the law. 

“When it comes to the safety of the people of our state, we must stand up and do what is right – that is why I proposed strengthening, not weakening, our assault weapons law earlier this year,” Lamont said. “I applaud the actions that Attorney General Tong is taking to defend Connecticut’s gun violence prevention laws on behalf of the people of our state.”

The organization filed four other lawsuits last week challenging semi-automatic rifle and high capacity magazine bans in other states and municipalities. It filed lawsuits in Massachusetts and Hawaii and Naperville and Highland Park, Illinois. 

“This nationwide legal blitz aims to take out every single ban on semi-automatic weapons and standard capacity magazines for good,” the organization said on its website. 

It asked for an injunction against each of the respective bans.