Supreme Court Declines To Challenge State Gun Laws

| by Sarah Zimmerman
U.S. Supreme CourtU.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will not challenge New York and Connecticut state laws banning the sale and ownership of certain semi-automatic assault weapons and magazines.

The New York and Connecticut gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. Both were passed shortly after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in which a gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school, killing 20 school children and six teachers.

The laws prevent the sale of military-grade assault weapons and both also have mechanisms in place to keep firearms away from people with a documented mental illness, according to The New York Times.

"Sensible gun safety legislation works. The Supreme Court's action today in declining to hear this appeal affirms that the reforms enacted in Connecticut following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School were reasonable, sensible and lawful," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen to Reuters.

The Supreme Court's refusal to comment on the legality of either state law comes a little over a week after the U.S.'s deadliest mass shooting, notes CNN. The shooter, Omar Mateen, used military-grade assault weapons that would have been banned in both Connecticut and New York.

The court is probably not making a statement on the Orlando shooting as it has a long history of refusing to engage with the national gun control debate. The last Second Amendment case heard was the 2008 hearing of District of Columbia v. Heller, which upheld an individual's right to bear arms. But, as Reuters reports, the ruling did not apply to state laws, only to federal regulations.

With the Supreme Court's silence on the gun control debate, many states have decided to take legal action on their own. According to gun rights activists, the restrictive state laws like the ones in New York and Connecticut completely ignore Supreme Court precedent and the Second Amendment.

Gun rights supporters say these state laws ban the use of "some of the most popular firearms in America ... owned by millions of Americans for the lawful purposes of self-defense, hunting and recreational shooting," according to Reuters.

CNN reports that the president of the guns rights group Connecticut Citizens' Defense League, Scott Wilson Sr., said in a statement his group intends "to renew our challenge to Connecticut's blatantly unconstitutional ban as soon as there are five Justices sitting on the Supreme Court committed to the proper understanding of the Second Amendment."

Sources: The New York Times, Reuters, CNN / Photo credit: Scott Merrill/Flickr

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