Gun control advocates were buoyed by a federal court decision in Hartford that upholds Connecticut’s toughest-in-the-nation assault weapons ban, calling it a constitutionally valid means of balancing gun rights and the government’s interest in reducing gun violence, the Hartford Courant reports. “The court concludes that the legislation is constitutional,” senior U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello wrote. “While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control.”
The legislature enacted comprehensive restrictions on ownership of semiautomatic weapons and ammunition early last year in the emotionally charged weeks after the Newtown mass shooting. Gunman Adam Lanza 20 first-grade students and six women with a now-banned AR-15 Bushmaster assault rifle his mother bought. A coalition of gun owners, gun sellers and sports shooting organizations sued to block enforcement of the law and overturn it on constitutional grounds. The plaintiffs argued that the state’s ban of 138 weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines is vague, discriminates among different categories of gun users and, most significantly, infringes on their Second Amendment right to gun ownership. In defending the ban, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen argued that handguns and rifles on the state’s list of banned assault weapons were designed for killing people and should not be generally owned and used.