Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DAFR Responds to State's Motion to Dismiss

Here is the link to Plaintiff's Memo in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the State of Connecticut Attorney General's office on behalf of Gov. Malloy. The State moved to dismiss this declaratory judgment action on the grounds of lack of standing and sovereign immunity. The case challenges the constitutionality of Connecticut's recently enacted gun control statute that was enacted in the wake of the Newtown school massacre, in particular, the expansion of the State's "assault weapons" ban and limit on magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Plaintiff Scott Ennis founded DAFR, which now has a national membership of about 15,000, including 3,500 in Connecticut, with the goal of providing opportunities for disabled Americans, including disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to engage in recreational and competitive shooting events. DAFR’s mission also includes the education of the public and elected officials concerning the unique needs of disabled individuals when exercising their fundamental rights in the lawful use of firearms. They claim that the language of the Act, particularly the adoption of a "one feature test" that bans guns based on features like pistol grips and adjustable stocks, precludes many disabled individuals from being able to safely and effectively use a rifle for self-defense.
The plaintiffs claim violations of Connecticut constitutional and statutory provisions, including (a) Art. I § 15 of the State constitution, which guarantees that all citizens have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State; (b) Conn. Gen. Stat. § 27-2, which affirms the rights of all citizens to bear arms as members of the unorganized militia of the State; (c) Art. I §1 of the State constitution, which guarantees equality of rights of all citizens of the State; (d) Article I § 20 of the State constitution, as amended by amendment XXI, which guarantees equal protection of the law, and prohibits discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of civil or political rights based on physical disability; and (e) Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-58(a), which prohibits the deprivation of civil rights on the basis of physical disability.
The plaintiffs argue that it is a well established principle of Connecticut law that sympathy and emotion make for bad legal outcomes. However horrible and terrifying was Newtown, the constitution and laws of our state require--and our citizens deserve--more than a knee-jerk, feel-good emotional legislative reaction, one that was poorly thought out, not debated, hastily passed and implemented, and which does nothing to keep people safe from homicidal/suicidal sociopaths who perpetrate random acts of violence that were already illegal before the Act.
We know from our own experience in Connecticut, as well as nationally, that the assault weapon bans do not work to reduce violence, we know that American cities with the strictest gun control laws have the highest gun murder rates (i.e., Chicago), and we know that highly restrictive gun laws in other countries like Australia and Great Britain have not made those societies any safer, or prevented mass shootings there. At some point we have to admit that these laws do not accomplish their stated purposes. They only infringe the rights of honest people.
The assault weapon ban is a misguided, ill-considered distraction from the real issue of gun violence in this country and this state. It is already illegal to kill one’s mother, steal her lawfully-owned guns, drive them to a school, and murder students and staff inside. None of the laws against these activities prevented the Newtown incident, and there is nothing in the Act that will prevent another homicidal maniac from attacking another school or other “gun-free zone” with a legal pistol and a dozen 10-round magazines.
Incidents like Newtown are among the most isolated and rare crimes in this country. Sadly, crimes against the disabled happen with much more frequency and regularity. Sane, law-abiding citizens, particularly disabled ones who are among the most vulnerable in our society, deserve the ability to defend themselves with appropriate arms that are suitable for personal and home defense. The language of P.A. 13-3, particularly the expansion of the “assault weapons” ban and limitation on “large capacity magazines,” deprives disabled persons such as the plaintiffs of the right to bear suitable arms in self-defense. For these reasons, the plaintiffs maintain that the provisions of the Act should be declared unconstitutional.