Connecticut’s assault weapons ban received a new constitutional challenge Thursday in a lawsuit by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League that marks the second effort to overturn the law since the Supreme Court struck down a New York firearm policy in June.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut and written by attorneys Doug Dubitsky, Craig Fishbein and Cameron Atkinson. Dubitsky and Fishbein, from Chaplin and Wallingford respectively, are both Republican lawmakers in the state House of Representatives.
The complaint argues that Connecticut’s ban on certain rifles including AR-15 style weapons violates both the Second and Fourteenth Amendment. Connecticut expanded the scope of its gun laws following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012.
The CCDL lawsuit follows a similar complaint filed by the National Association for Gun Rights earlier this month. Both are part of a wave of litigation nationwide spurred by a U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in a case called New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen, which concluded that New York’s requirements for obtaining a handgun license were too restrictive.
In a press release announcing the complaint, CCDL President Holly Sullivan said that Connecticut officials would have a difficult time proving the law passed constitutional muster.
“Like those defending the New York statute stricken down in Bruen, anti-gun officials here in Connecticut trumpet their laws as being the harshest in the country,” Sullivan said. “Quite clearly, the recent Supreme Court decision meets Connecticut’s harshness with rebuke in support of individual and inalienable rights. We bring this lawsuit to vindicate those rights.”
In addition to CCDL, the complaint’s plaintiffs include the Second Amendment Foundation as well as two former Connecticut correction officers and a mother and domestic violence survivor. They are suing a handful of state officials including Gov. Ned Lamont, his public safety commissioner James Rovella, and leading state prosecutors.
“The Defendants’ actions to enforce [state gun control law] and its accompanying statutory provisions violate, and threaten to imminently violate, the legally protected interests, rights, privileges, or immunities secured to the Plaintiffs by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution,” the attorneys wrote.
In a Friday statement, Attorney General William Tong said he would defend the state gun laws from “every one of these baseless challenges.”
“Connecticut’s gun laws save lives, and we are not going back. This latest threat is disturbing, but not surprising,” Tong said. “The moment the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Bruen, I knew the gun lobby was coming for Connecticut’s post-Sandy Hook gun safety laws. We will not allow weapons of war back into our schools, our houses of worship, our grocery stores, and our communities.”
Lamont applauded Tong’s efforts to defend the law in a Friday afternoon press release.
“Connecticut’s law banning assault weapons was adopted in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy as part of a bipartisan effort to prevent needless tragedy and it is overwhelmingly supported by the people who live here,” Lamont said. “It has withstood previous legal challenges despite the persistent efforts of opponents of gun safety to undermine it. We will vigorously defend these commonsense laws that are seeking to reduce violent crime and mass shootings. When it comes to the safety of the people of our state, we must stand up and do what is right.”