A judge declined Thursday to suspend a Connecticut law banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines while a lawsuit challenging the regulations makes its way through a federal court.
Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied a request from the National Association for Gun Rights to issue a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt enforcement of law, which was adopted in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
In a 74-page decision, Arterton said the gun rights group had failed to demonstrate constitutional violations in Connecticut’s prohibition of certain semiautomatic weapons and magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds.
Instead, the judge said that lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office had made convincing arguments that the weapons were not often used for self defense and posed a danger to the public.
“Defendants have submitted persuasive evidence that assault weapons and LCMs are more often sought out for their militaristic characteristics than for self-defense, that these characteristics make the weapons disproportionately dangerous to the public based on their increased capacity for lethality, and that assault weapons and LCMs are more often used in crimes and mass shootings than in self-defense,” Arterton wrote.
Thursday’s decision means the state law will remain in effect as the lawsuit proceeds.
Connecticut’s assault weapons ban has withstood legal challenges in the past. However, the lawsuit by the Colorado-based Second Amendment group is one of many new challenges to gun laws across the country, brought in the aftermath of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen, which struck down a New York law giving state officials discretion in the issuance of concealed carry permits.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, included a new requirement that in order to justify a gun control regulation, “the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
On Thursday, Arterton wrote that Connecticut had shown “historically analogous” laws to support its assault weapons and large capacity magazine bans.
“[The state had demonstrated] that when a modern innovation in firearm technology results in a particular type of weapon or method of carrying being utilized for unlawful purposes to terrorize and endanger the public, the Nation has a longstanding history and tradition of regulating those aspects of the weapons or manners of carry that correlate with rising firearm violence,” the judge wrote.
In a statement Thursday, Attorney General William Tong praised both Arterton’s ruling and the state’s gun policies.
“Judge Arterton’s decision today affirms that Connecticut’s assault weapon and large capacity magazine bans remain on strong legal footing after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bruen,” Tong said. “We will continue to vigorously defend our state’s assault weapon and large capacity magazine bans and commonsense gun safety laws against this challenge, and all others.”
Meanwhile, Hannah Hill, executive director of the National Association for Gun Rights’ legal wing, criticized Arterton’s decision as “crazy judicial acrobatics” and promised to appeal the ruling.
“This is an outrageous slap in the face to law-abiding gun owners and the Constitution alike,” Hill said. “Today’s ruling is just one more instance of leftist judges refusing to follow the simple, clear guidance of Bruen and twisting the Supreme Court’s words in order to continue a decade-long practice of trampling the Second Amendment as a second-class right.”