Federal Judge Upholds Connecticut Gun Control Law

In a victory for gun control advocates, a federal judge has upheld Connecticut’s assault weapons ban, one of the strictest gun control laws in the country. U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello determined that the ban, which was passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, “burdens the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights,” yet is nevertheless “substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” and thus passes constitutional muster.

The law bans ownership and sale of 138 different weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines. It was first enacted in 1991 and has been revisited by the state legislature several times since, but unlike some other gun measures in the country, like Chicago’s, the Connecticut law has actually been strengthened each time state lawmakers have returned to it.

Interestingly, Covello actually agreed with a lot of the plaintiffs’ arguements, namely that the legislation impinges on the Second Amendment and that the weapons in question are in high use within the state. However, he ultimately determined that Second Amendment rights were still intact due to the legality and availability of other guns in the state, and that the public safety concern justified this partial infringement.

Covello did admit, however, that the law hadn’t been “written with the utmost clarity,” and advised legislators to clarify it in future revisions.