Federal judge rejects challenge to Connecticut’s ban on firearms in parks



(The Center Square) — A federal judge has tossed a challenge to a Connecticut law banning firearms in state parks, saying the lawsuit lacks standing because the regulation isn’t enforced.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Janet Bond Arterton, issued on Wednesday, upholds a more than a century-old Connecticut law prohibiting lawfully licensed firearm owners from packing in state parks and wildlife preserves.

David Nastri, a financial advisor who said in court filings that he frequently camps at state parks, filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, claiming the restrictions on carrying firearms in the parks violates his Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In the 17-page ruling, Arterton noted testimony from state environmental officers who said they were unaware the law had ever been enforced and didn’t search visitors for guns unless there was a reason to suspect they were armed. He also noted testimony from Nastri, saying the state environmental agency “does nothing” to enforce the law.

“By his own account, the lack of inspection mechanism undermines the idea that any kind of enforcement might be “sufficiently imminent” against Plaintiff or someone like him who carries a concealed firearm in state parks or forests,” Arterton wrote.

The law, which has been on the books since 1918, prohibits guns, archery equipment, or other weapons in state parks and forests unless the state authorizes it. Violators face a $75 fine and could be barred from the state parks for a year.

That includes non-hunting members who possess valid Connecticut pistol permits and are not allowed to carry handguns for self-defense under the restrictions.

State Attorney General William Tong, whose office represented the state agency, praised the ruling and said the judge was right to dismiss it for lack of standing.

“Connecticut’s common sense gun laws are live-saving and constitutional — they strike the right balance between respecting Second Amendment rights while also protecting public safety. This decision protects our ability to safely enjoy our State parks and forests,” he said in a statement.

But Nastri’s lawyer, Cameron Atkinson, said he would appeal the court’s decision arguing that the judge ignored recent rulings on Second Amendment issues.

“We view the district court’s decision as legally and logically unsustainable, and, at times, it opens fire on its own reasoning,” he wrote. “In sum, the district court ruled that Mr. Nastri had not shown that he faced a credible threat of prosecution because he could not identify any instances where someone had been charged for violating Connecticut’s prohibition.”

Connecticut is also facing separate legal challenges over its 1994 “assault weapons” ban and a new law setting tough new restrictions on the open carry of firearms in public places.



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