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Federal appeals court upholds state assault weapons bans

[JURIST] A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Monday upheld [opinion, PDF] the main parts of Connecticut and New York gun control legislation that ban semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The laws were passed in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. According to Judge José Cabranes, "the core prohibitions by New York and Connecticut of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment." The challenge to the laws was brought by a group of plaintiffs, including gun rights groups and businesses. The court stated that little guidance had been provided by the Supreme Court since its 2008 ruling for an expanded reading of the Second Amendment [text]. It thus created its own analytical framework, determining [Huffington Post report] whether the regulation burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment and weighing whether the restrictions are substantially related to the governmental interest of increasing public safety.

Since the December 2012 shooting, the Connecticut legislature has tightened gun laws while the families of victims have called for gun control. Families of victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the Superior Court of Connecticut in December, alleging that the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the shooting were negligent. A judge for the US District Court for the District of Connecticut in January 2014 upheld [ruling, PDF] the constitutionality of the state's new gun control law [text, PDF], while still acknowledging the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. The new law, enacted in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, expanded a previous ban [JURIST report] on assault weapons and introduced a prohibition on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

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