Washington D.C., June 20, 2016 — After the shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school, Connecticut banned certain military-style assault weapons, such as the one used in that tragic school shooting and in an Orlando hate attack last week. New York also passed a similar ban in 2013. This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review the appeals court decisions upholding the constitutionality of those laws. Dan Gross, President of the Brady Center and Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, praised the decision saying: “As we saw last week in Orlando, weapons of war have no place on the streets. But the gun lobby is more concerned with protecting corporate profits than protecting American lives, even if that means selling guns to dangerous people who have no business having firearms. By rejecting this case, the Supreme Court has sent a clear message to devastated communities like Orlando that there is more we can do as a country to safeguard our people from gun violence.”
Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project said: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court will not review the lower court’s ruling that the Constitution allows for common-sense gun safety laws that limit access to military-style weapons of war. The right to bear arms does not trump the right to live.”
This case – Shew v. Malloy – arose from a Connecticut state law that that institutes background checks for all gun sales and prohibits the ownership of certain kinds of semiautomatic rifles or large capacity magazines. The Plaintiffs sued the Governor and other state officials, claiming that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to possess assault weapons and high capacity magazines. In response, Connecticut argued that the Second Amendment does not apply to assault weapons. The District Court agreed with the state, upholding the law as Constitutional; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. In both courts, the Brady Center filed amicus briefs supporting Connecticut, with the assistance of the law firm White & Case. The Brady Center argued that assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment, because assault weapons were not commonly used for self-defense in the home, and that even if the Second Amendment applies, Connecticut’s law is nonetheless constitutional, because it passes the relevant legal standard.
Like Connecticut, New York passed a law prohibiting certain semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. And like Connecticut’s law, the gun lobby claimed that New York’s law violated the Second Amendment. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New York’s law in NYSRPA v. Cuomo. In both the District and Appeals courts the Brady Center filed amicus briefs supporting the state, with assistance from the law firm Sidley Austin.
Separately, the First Circuit upheld another sensible gun law that had been challenged on Second Amendment grounds. Massachusetts passed a regulation requiring that any handgun sold in Massachusetts be equipped with technology that shows whether it is loaded. The gun lobby challenged that regulation in Draper v. Healey, and the First Circuit today agreed with the District Court that their challenge fails. With help from the Proskauer Rose law firm, the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project filed an amicus brief in support of Massachusetts’s common sense gun regulation.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.