Connecticut gun activists sue officials over post-Sandy Hook law limiting ammunition rounds

Connecticut gun activists sue officials over post-Sandy Hook law limiting ammunition rounds
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Gun rights activists filed a lawsuit this week against Connecticut officials over a 2013 law, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, that prohibits people from having more than 10 rounds of ammunition loaded into their firearms. 

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), the Second Amendment Foundation and two gun owners filed the suit in the U.S. District Court on Tuesday, claiming the state law places an unconstitutional burden on the right to bear arms.

“Law abiding gun owners in Connecticut are left more susceptible to harm or death by being limited in their means of self-defense,” CCDL president Holly Sullivan said in a statement. “Only a law abiding gun owner is going to heed the State’s requirement to load only 10 rounds into a magazine capable of holding more ammunition. Criminals who are intent on doing harm will not follow this same law.”

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The 2013 Connecticut law defines “large capacity magazine” to mean any firearm magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Anyone who was possessing large capacity magazines before the legislation went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, were required to declare possession to the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection but were allowed to keep them. However, they are prohibited from loading more than 10 rounds into the magazines.

The bill was enacted after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December 2012 using an AR-15-style rifle.

The lawsuit, however, claims that restrictions on ammunition can threaten the lives of lawful gun owners.

“A person with 15 rounds of ammunition available will be better able to defend himself or herself from a criminal gang, or from a drug-crazed criminal who continues attacking even after being shot, than a person who has only 10 rounds of ammunition available before they must reload their gun," the lawsuit states.

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“A person with a disability or who has been injured by a violent attacker may be unable to reload his or her firearm, and thus, the statutory 10-round magazine loading limit can severely compromise such a person’s ability to defend himself or herself.”

The lawsuit names the defendants as Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella, state police Col. Stavros Mellekas and Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. — Connecticut officials who were not in their current jobs when the legislation was passed, according to The Associated Press.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) said that the Supreme Court has ruled that states can regulate firearms to protect public safety.

"Commonsense gun violence prevention measures are clearly constitutional," Tong said in a statement to the AP. "Reasonable limits on high capacity magazines save lives. The vast majority of the American people support - and demand - these basic public safety measures."