The Supreme Court has still not dismissed a New York gun case where New York City officials passed, in my view, a clearly unconstitutional gun control measure. Then, after proclaiming that they would defend the law to the Supreme Court, they tried desperately to withdraw the case after review was granted. That creates a serious question of mootness in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. However, they may have pushed this game too far with the Court, which clearly did not like being played by politicians using the courts for grandstanding. Yet, there is a case out of Connecticut that could prove equally, if not more, important in defining the edges of the Second Amendment.
A lawsuit has been filed to challenge part of a 2013 state gun control law passed after the Sandy Hook school shooting. It is a complaint that shows how focus and restraint can make for a much stronger case. The complaint isolated the ban on people loading more than 10 rounds of ammunition into their firearms. The law allows people to have larger magazines but bars citizens from loading more than ten bullets.
The law will force the court to consider the real benefits and logic behind such laws. The vast majority of gun owners are law-bidding. The small number people committing Sandy Hook massacres are likely to violate the “ten bullets only” rule if they are prepared to commit mass murder. Moreover, even the use of small magazines only require fast swapping of such magazines – something most gun owners become apt at doing at gun ranges.
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.
Under the law, anyone who owns large capacity magazines before Jan. 1, 2014, are required to declare possession to the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and are prohibited from loading more than 10 rounds into the magazines.
I have written how these laws satisfy political needs but offer less practical protections. (here and here and here). The fact is that, despite recent claims on the presidential campaign trail, the range of action for gun control was dramatically reduced after Heller.
The Connecticut law is precisely what gun control advocates should fear the most — much like the ill-considered New York law. It will force a review of the edges of allowable regulation of Second Amendment rights on the basis of a state law that may prove difficult to fully defend.