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Good news if you are in favor of stricter gun safety laws:

A federal district court on Thursday upheld a Connecticut gun control law that expanded the state's assault weapons ban, created a dangerous weapon offender registry and formed new rules for buying ammunition, the Hartford Courant reported.
The GOP appointed judge ruled in favor of public safety over plaintiff claims of infringement on the Second Amendment:
Gun control advocates were buoyed Thursday 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 gun rights lobby struck out on this one. The judge tossed out all three of the plaintiffs' constitutional challenges.

And best of all, the judge relied on Heller to make his ruling - that seems significant to me. Heller as a precedent to uphold an AWB.

The plaintiffs tried to use the claim that AW are in common use and although the judge acknowledged common use as a concept, he ruled it did not apply in this case.

I am not familiar with the details fo NY Safe ruling by the Fed court, but if it used Heller as well, seems like there is a strong foundation for a national move at some point.

6:05 PM PT: About the NY Safe law: it was largely upheld by a Fed district judge in Dec. 2013 claiming public safety over Second Amendment rights. Judge ruled the restrictions didn't stop people from using guns in self defense. The judge also didn't accept the "common use" claim by plaintiffs - the judge agreed they are in common use, but decided that doesn't trump public safety.

Originally posted to We Shall Overcome on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Firearms Law and Policy, Shut Down the NRA, Nutmeg State Progressives, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), and Good News.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The money quote (20+ / 0-)
    "The court concludes that the legislation is constitutional," senior U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello wrote in a decision published late Thursday. "While the act burdens the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control." [...]

    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.

    Covello, a Republican appointee, dismissed all three constitutional challenges in his 47-page decision.

    "Obviously, the court cannot foretell how successful the legislation will be in preventing crime," Covello wrote. "Nevertheless, for the purposes of the court's inquiry here, Connecticut, in passing the legislation, has drawn reasonable inferences from substantial evidence."

    [emphasis mine]

    Thanks WSO!

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:47:27 PM PST

    •  If it prevents one crime (5+ / 0-)

      it is worthwhile.

      Great decision.

      Election Day is Nov 4th, 2014 It's time for the Undo button on the 2010 Election.

      by bear83 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:24:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Supreme Court on this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      Scalia managed to get 5 votes for the Heller decision, but it seems that it would be uncertain if another major gun decision was to be made.  Therefore, SOCUS hasn't taken up any more cases.  

      If you want to see a very good history of SOCUS making a decision and rolling it back read A Wild Justice by Evan Mandery.  This stuff is 1 part law and 3 parts horse trading.

      Mandatory Gun Insurance would provide for victims, encourage safety and not be an excessive burden on gun owners. How to do it at Gun Insurance Blog. I also make posts at Huffington as Tom Harvey.

      by guninsuranceblog on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:00:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "...burdens the Second Amendment" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KVoimakas, Glen The Plumber

      Though I imagine gun enthusiasts and future litigants will take comfort in these words from the judge

      "While the act burdens the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights...."
      It seems to me that these words might be a prominent part of any effort by the gun industry to have the law overturned by a higher court.

      Because this is the core argument of gun enthusiasts: that regulations of gun sales and restrictions on the sale of some guns is indeed an infringement of 2A rights.

      And here the judge's ruling seems to admit as much.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:22:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ding ding (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Winner winner chicken dinner.

        This is so going to be overturned I'm not even mad about it.

        •  It's a judgement between 2A rights burden v. (0+ / 0-)

          public safety — is the burden justified to increase public safety?

          If AW (semi-auto + high cap) used in crowded public square locations at random are a serious enough public safety risk, then the burden very well could be justified.

          Are they a serious enough public safety risk?

          There is a case to be made that they are:

          1. Random, can't be predicted
          2. Occur in public places such as schools, malls, offices, places of worship
          3. Catastrophic/potential to be catastrophic consequences
          4. Public safety orgs must try to prevent them - the costs to do so burdens/takes away from others in society, for example, schools that direct resources to metal detectors, resource officers, trainings, are diverting money that should instead go to hiring teachers, administrators and serving children and their families.
          5. Add up all of the above and you have a crime that is similar in nature to an act of terror - minus the political/ideological motivation.

          "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

          by We Shall Overcome on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:08:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But, the standart ISN'T "public safety" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It's Compelling State Interest, which subjects it to the Strict Scrutiny Standard:

            To pass strict scrutiny, the law or policy must satisfy three tests:
            * It must be justified by a compelling governmental interest. While the Courts have never brightly defined how to determine if an interest is compelling, the concept generally refers to something necessary or crucial, as opposed to something merely preferred. Examples include national security, preserving the lives of multiple individuals, and not violating explicit constitutional protections.

            * The law or policy must be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest. If the government action encompasses too much (overbroad) or fails to address essential aspects of the compelling interest, then the rule is not considered narrowly tailored.

            * The law or policy must be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest, that is, there cannot be a less restrictive way to effectively achieve the compelling government interest. The test will be met even if there is another method that is equally the least restrictive. Some legal scholars consider this "least restrictive means" requirement part of being narrowly tailored, though the Court generally evaluates it separately.

            That standard is not shown to have been met. No where in this ruling does the judge even pretend that such a standard was met. That's why this ruling is toast.

            *Kudos to Crookshanks for the legal research that I borrowed from for this post.

            •  In this case I think public safety satisfies the (0+ / 0-)

              first point "It must be justified by a compelling governmental interest." Public safety is that compelling governmental interest.

              Narrowly tailored - if AW are used in these shootings (and they are), then removeing the AW is a narrow law/policy that is specifically tied to these events - ie, take them away, and the carnage can decrease. That's the theory, and logically it is sound - if the lethality of weapon is causing high death rates and you take it away, then the death rates should drop.

              Least restrictive - banning them is the only way to achieve this public safety goal. You can't let some be available because then point 2 goes away, doesn't it?

              "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

              by We Shall Overcome on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:22:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  FYI, NY and CT are both in the 2nd circuit (9+ / 0-)

    They will both appeal to the same Appeals Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. (commonly shortened to "the 2nd Circuit."

    The democratic process in the federal courts is that each Court decision is decided by one District Court judge. They do their best to interpret Heller & McDonald, in the context of all the other cases that have been decided since 2008.

    Their District Court decision only carries legal weight within their district and that judge gets one chance to "get it right."

    But.... they also study all the similar cases across the country to see if they agree or disagree with other decisions that have been made since 2008.

    If they agree they cite the other cases. If they disagree they explain why their opinion is better, and they cite which cases and scholarship they rely on to decide the way that they do.

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:14:30 PM PST

    •  So if I'm understanding correctly (5+ / 0-)

      you're saying that if one goes down, the other is likely to, as well.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:19:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Turn that upside down (9+ / 0-)

        The same court will review both cases, it could decide:
        1) both are right
        2) one is right and the is wrong
        3) both are wrong

        Each District Court considers all the decisions across the country that have interpreted Heller & McDonald applied to similar claims re assault weapons, magazine bans, ammunition laws, etc.

        First and foremost, each District court must reconcile their decision with the legal theories laid out in opinions they have issued. If they depart from the past, they must explain why.

        Second, they must reconcile their decision within the legal theories laid out and opinions issued by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, because that's the superior Court that will review their decisions.

        The 2nd Circuit will review both the NY & CT decisions.

        The two District Courts might disagree, and then it's the 2nd Circuit Court's job to sort out which court is mistaken and explain  why. When they do, they will consider all similar cases in all the other Circuit Courts as well.

        Think of it as a pyramid competition with single game elimination. Each Court wants their opinion to be the correct one that eventually prevails when a case on the same issue is accepted by the Supreme Court.

        "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

        by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:39:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't read the decision yet and don't know (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, Glen The Plumber, WakeUpNeo

        what was claimed in the suit, so I can't answer your question with a simple yes or no. The laws in NY & CT are not identical.

        "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

        by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:40:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Does the Tucson/Giffords ruling play a role (9+ / 0-)

      in this - ie, here is what the judge wrote in an LA Times op ed:

      Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core.

      Loughner deserved his punishment. But during the sentencing, I also questioned the social utility of high-capacity magazines like the one that fed his Glock. And I lamented the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, which prohibited the manufacture and importation of certain particularly deadly guns, as well as magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

      He wasn't ruling on a Second Amendment challenge, but he did express the need for tougher restrictions on semi-auto/AW. And he is a federal district judge in San Diego. Would that ruling come to bear in the Connecticut and NY rulings if appealed?

      "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

      by We Shall Overcome on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:29:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ... found the ruling, it's the 9th circuit in San (6+ / 0-)

        Francisco, but it doesn't seem to formally address AW or high capacity magazines in the ruling.

        Maybe he meant he voiced those concerns.

        "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

        by We Shall Overcome on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:42:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Would be at best "persuasive." (5+ / 0-)

        The 2nd Circuit would cast a glance at what the 9th Circuit did/said. t's not "binding authority" in another Circuit. But judges do tend to pay attention to what's going on in another Circuit, and if they want to reach the same result, may follow similar reasoning and cite it as persuasive.

        There's also a practical piece. Eventually at least one of these will likely land in the Supreme Court. One of the arguments to convince SCOTUS to take a case is a split in the circuits. If several different Courts of Appeal, and a number of District Courts have made similar findings -- that when it comes to assault weapons, the state's obvious interest in preventing mass violence makes the restrictions reasonable -- then SCOTUS may be less likely to take the case, and more likely to affirm.

      •  I don't know, I'm not a lawyer (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Glen The Plumber, coquiero, WakeUpNeo

        and having not read the case documents, I'd rather not offer a guess.

        Maybe lawyers will be able to read quickly and answer the question.

        "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

        by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:53:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Judges have personal opinions, and they're allowed (6+ / 0-)

        to. They are also very intelligent people. However, it was always illegal for Loughner to shoot up his world, and there are not going to be any challenges that what he did was legal, or that there is anything wrong with the sentence. Finally, there is nothing I know of to lead me to believe that, if and when the Ninth Cirucit gets the same issues that are going to the Second Circuit, they will rule differently. I actually believe that for all twelve Circuits (1 through 11 and the DC Circuit).

        Heller was an outlier as far as making things much worse than they alreay are. It reined in a very small piece of the normal firearms regulatory scheme, and upheld the vast majority. In many ways, The Second Amendment meant, when it was written, what it meant only because of when it was written. In our time, no court will take it to it's logical conclusion (after Heller decided the very narrow issue of "Personal v. Militia") and there is actually virtually not a single group in the country even trying to extend things even close to that absurd result. All of the loud ranting of the RKBA crowd notwithstanding.

        In reality, most of the things that were passed before Heller, or even suggested, are still quite valid today. The Second Amendment has been offically relegated to the lower reaches of"The Pantheon of Personal Freedoms". Or, really, at the very bottom, as far as I can tell.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:10:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  this... (10+ / 0-)
    created a dangerous weapon offender registry could any sane person argue against such.

    We are not broke, we are being robbed...but we can fight back...#KosKatalogue

    by Glen The Plumber on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:44:03 PM PST

  •  Cliff Notes Version - NY Safe Act Decision (6+ / 0-)
    Firearms Law & Policy - January 1, 2014 - NY Safe Act Decision

    Federal Judge Skretny, of the Western District of New York, issued his decision on December 31, 2013. Quoting Judge Skretny on page 53 of the opinion:

    [T]his Court finds that the challenged provisions of the SAFE Act — including the Act’s definition and regulation of assault weapons and its ban on large-capacity magazines — further the state’s important interest in public safety, and do not impermissibly infringe on Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights.

    [T]he seven-round limit fails the relevant test because the purported link between the ban and the State’s interest is tenuous, strained, and unsupported in the record.

    In plain English?

    The Western District of New York upheld most of NY’s new gun law.

    Only one provision of the new law was struck down as a violation of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self defense. The suit also challenged nine sections of the assault weapons ban. Six of the nine  sections were upheld and three sections were struck down because they were too vague.

    Vague law is bad for two reasons. First, when a law is vague, citizens can’t tell clearly how to avoid breaking the law. Second, vague law leads to vague jury instructions and it is the details in the jury instructions that determine whether a law can be enforced effectively. [...]

    Lead Plaintiff challenging NY Safe Act: "The Court rules against us on guns"

    What is this lawsuit really about? NY Safe Act Part III

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:48:12 PM PST

  •  About self defense and guns (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, LilithGardener

    I had a fairly large dog run straight for me at a sprint when I was walking in the park the other day.  It kind of jumped on me and tried to slobber all over me.  It was obviously completly harmless.

    If I had a gun, I could have shot it in self defense.

  •  Thank you, We Shall Overcome. (5+ / 0-)

    Sweet words to hear about this decision, similar to the ruling on the SAFE Act:

    ... judge ruled in favor of public safety over plaintiff claims of infringement
    May this trend toward upholding sane and sensible public policy continue.
  •  Giving Republicans a run for their money (4+ / 0-)

    In the "bad legislation sweepstakes", that is. Below is the actual text of the CT law (link for the full thing in case you think I am quoting out of context):

    Sec. 53-202a. Assault weapons: Definition. (a) As used in this section and sections 53-202b to 53-202k, inclusive, “assault weapon” means:

    (A) A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following:

    (ii) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

    (4) A part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault weapon, as defined in subdivision (3) of this subsection, or any combination of parts from which an assault weapon, as defined in subdivision (3) of this subsection, may be rapidly assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.

    This means that the item below (a part that could convert a legal rifle into an evil "assault weapon") is itself classified under the law as an "assault weapon". For those low on reading comprehension and don't believe this, go back and read it a few more times until it sticks. Parts that can turn a legal weapon into an "assault weapon" are themselves "assault weapons".

    (2) Any person who transfers, sells or gives any assault weapon to a person under eighteen years of age in violation of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six years, which shall not be suspended or reduced and shall be in addition and consecutive to the term of imprisonment imposed under subdivision (1) of this subsection.
    So, buying the above and giving it to a 17-year old nets you an automatic, mandatory 6 year jail sentence (selling to an adult only gets you a mandatory 2 years).

    And who said conservatives have a monopoly on stupid?

    It's not that I expect them to enforce this. It is that they (CT conservatives and liberals) are incompetent enough to have passed something that badly written in the first place, that people who should have an IQ over 85 endorse it (I'm looking at you, fellow Kossacks), and that when they went in later and revised the law, this language was left in place. For all the whining and bellyaching I hear about "loopholes" in gun laws, you'd think Kossacks with an interest in firearms law and policy would be genuinely concerned about badly written gun laws and would be equally critical about any such law. But I guess there is no limit as to how awful these laws can be written and yet go without criticism, so long as they are more restrictive.

    And bonus points to CT (and NY!) for writing an "assault pistol" definition that outlaws multi-thousand dollar, 5-shot, .22 caliber Olympic target shooting pistols, but I'm sure the CT attorney general has plenty of evidence that rogue athletes are using them for "killing people and (so) should not be generally owned and used."

    A badly written law is a badly written law, even if it does give you Rich Lowry-like starbursts when you read it. Though if you like the law and are seeing starbursts, the brain damage from having a stroke might explain both.

    •  Must hurt to lose (0+ / 0-)

      if wannabe killers weren't so enamored of military looking murder toys, maybe the law wouldn't have needed to anticipate and close the kit loophole.  Lots of innocent objects become criminalized when they are made or used with unlawful intent. From lock-picks and slim jims to crow bars. I suppose if there were an organization of experts who were interested in constructive engagement in public safety legislation instead of rabid opposition to virtually any attempt to reign in the multi-decade killing spree decimating Americans, laws with more precision and less 'stupidity' could have been enacted.

      Guns are popular fetish items in American society, in that they are often imbued with seemingly magical powers by those who believe in them.

      •  close, no Monica (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theatre goon
        Guns are popular fetish items in American society, in that they are often imbued with seemingly magical powers by those who believe in irrationally fear them.
        Adam Lanza, with two one-gallon cans of gasoline, and a lighter, could have killed the occupants of two classrooms.

        Permit?  None.  
        Proof of mental competency?  None.
        Access to school? Crowbar, or 6 pound hammer.

        The police demonstrated this at my S.O.'s school, on state-of-the-art proximity card access doors.

        Their advice:  

        DO NOT shelter in-place when faced with an active intruder/shooter.  
        It doesn't take a firearm to kill a classroom.  
        GET OUT and disperse the children.
        The School District answered the police with: "We'll get back to you on that, thank you very much for your time".

        Teachers were later told:
        District Policy REQUIRES ALL CHILDREN - MUST BE under constant supervision and control.  
        Dispersal is a violation of control.
        There will be NO LOSS of control, or there will be administrative action against that employee, up to and including, charges of criminal negligence.

        We have ONE POLICY for ALL EMERGENCIES:  
        Two options:
        1) Shelter in-place.
        2) Assemble the students in your pre-assigned area for Fire Drill.  Maintain strict control of your group, and enforce attendance procedures.

    •  Look at that! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you read the ruling mentioned in this diary, the judge specifically states that owning something like a pistol grip could in and of itself be a crime.

      Buy a harmless piece of plastic, go to jail. But I'm sure Sandino will step forward to say this is exactly as proper as saying that owning anything that is part of a meth lab (like say Sudafed or a stove) should be equivalent under the law to actually having a working meth lab.

  •  It's not over yet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First, per the analysis of this article

    Assault Weapons

    There may be close to 4 million AR-15 style rifles in the US. That number doesn't include the millions of non-AR style rifles in the US (I own an AK myself). So claiming they are not in "common use" is ludicrous on it's face.

    Hopefully the courts are done with this yet.

  •  This is probably constitutional, even though (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I disagree with the law and think it won't be very effective considering most gun deaths, whether it's murder, suicide, or accident, are committed with handguns using less than 5 rounds.

    This also got me thinking about many of the new abortion laws being put in place that restrict womens' rights to abortion.  If constitutionally protected firearms can be restricted like in NY and CT in the name of public safety, then it's reasonable to believe that new abortion restrictions in places like Texas may be considered constitutional using a similar argument.  

    "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

    by Texas Lefty on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:58:30 AM PST

    •  The analogy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Texas Lefty, KVoimakas

      The analogy between this debate/war and the choice debate/war is freakishly close. The main difference is that the party is largely on the wrong side of this one. Gun control zealots basically use the identical playbook that anti-choice zealots use. all while excoriating the anti-choice folks for their tactics.

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