Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NSSF's Lawsuit Against Connecticut's SB 1160 Dismissed

Chief District Court Judge Janet Hall dismissed the National Shooting Sports Foundation's lawsuit which sought an injunction against Connecticut's new gun control law on Monday. Hall, a Clinton appointee, dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Procedure which states that a plaintiff must have standing to bring a case. She agreed with the State of Connecticut's claim that the NSSF did not have standing to challenge SB 1160.

The case which was brought in July of this year sought to have Connecticut's draconian gun control law - SB 1160 - invalidated because the state did not follow its own legislative rules when it claimed an "emergency certification" exemption. Normally a bill in Connecticut must be available to be read by state legislators for two legislative days before it can be voted upon. An exemption can be granted in emergency situations if the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem certify in writing the necessity for the emergency exemption along with the supporting facts. In this case while they did certify the emergency they failed to state any facts to support their certification. (See items 18 through 33 in the plaintiff's complaint.)

Judge Hall states that the NSSF would have standing to challenge the gun control law's impact on its members but not to challenge the defects in the legislative process that led to the bill being passed. She found that the NSSF's complaint was a "generally available grievance against government" which other courts have found not to confer standing.
Here, the claimed pecuniary injury make s NSSF a proper party to challenge gun control legislation. That injury, however, does not make NSSF — or any other member of the public aggrieved only incidentally by procedurally defective legislation — into a proper party to challenge the defects in legislative process.
Judge Hall goes on to say:
Because the pecuniary injury asserted as the basis for NSSF‟s standing is unrelated to the rights of democratic participation in the legislative process that NSSF seeks to vindicate, the court lacks the authority to adjudicate the claims put forward in this case . Accordingly, the case must be dismissed for lack of standing.
She concludes by granting the state's motion to dismiss and by stating that based upon the NSSF's written and oral pleadings that they "would be unable to replead to satisfy the standing requirement."

The NSSF is reportedly studying the decision and weighing its options.


  1. Judges better be careful about making it so difficult to gain "standing." If we citizens have no recourse when the Constitution is violated, because we haven't suffered an "injury," the courts leave us no alternative but armed revolt.

  2. The judge got this one right. The violation is a violation of a rule of the legislature that exists to protect the legislators, not the public The only people who are injured by its violation, and therefore the only ones with standing to challenge the violation, are the legislators themselves. Their procedural rules do not convey rights on the general public. I may not like the statute, but standing in U.S. District Court is required by the Constitution.