A federal judge upheld Connecticut's ban on AR-style rifles and 30-round magazines, admitting the new rules signed into law after the Sandy Hook school shooting "burden" gun owners' rights, but were nevertheless constitutional.
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello said that while AR-style rifles and the magazines that come with them "are in common use" by Americans, the state's prohibition on ownership of the semi-automatic rifles doesn't affect a citizen's right to self-protection and is within the rights of a state to provide for "public safety and crime control."
"The legislation here does not amount to a complete prohibition on self-defense weapons in the home," Covello wrote in his opinion. "The [Connecticut law] provides alternate access to similar firearms and does not categorically ban a universally-recognized class of firearms."
The ruling is a blow to groups fighting similar bans in states like Maryland, New York and Colorado, which enacted strict new gun-control laws in the aftermath of the December 2012 mass killing at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
Brian Stapleton, lead attorney for the Connecticut Citizens Defense League which brought the suit, said the ruling "was not entirely unexpected, and we were prepared all along for this possibility."
Stapleton added that the judge admitted that AR-style rifles were firearms "in common use" — which is an important distinction since the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the government may not ban pistols in Washington, D.C., since they are in common use. He also took heart in the judges opinion that the law "levies a substantial burden" on citizens' 2nd amendment rights.
"This is a long way from over," Stapleton told the Associated Press, adding his group will appeal the decision.