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US judge upholds Connecticut gun control law

January 31, 2014

HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — A federal judge upheld Connecticut’s gun control law on Thursday, saying the sweeping measure is constitutional even as he acknowledged the rights of gun owners who sued to block it.

State lawmakers, responding to the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012, banned the sale of large-capacity magazines and made more weapons illegal under the state’s assault weapons ban.

The law, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed last April after months of negotiations in the legislature, was not entirely written “with the utmost clarity,” U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello said in his 47-page decision. Still, “it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” Covello ruled.

The judge said Connecticut’s law does not “amount to a complete prohibition on firearms for self-defense in the home.”

Brian Stapleton, the lawyer for a group of Connecticut organizations that support gun rights, pistol permit holders and gun sellers, said he will appeal.

Stapleton said Covello’s acknowledgment that large-capacity firearms magazines are “in common use” and have a lawful purpose are important facts that bolster the argument of opponents to gun restrictions.

The law does not prohibit possession of handguns, the “quintessential self-defense weapon” cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 landmark decision striking down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, he said. The prohibition of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines “does not effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves,” Covello said.

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