Bar Associations

After vote, Connecticut Bar Association will not help defend state gun control law in court

The Connecticut Bar Association will not help defend the state’s controversial gun control law in court.

According to the Harford Courant, the organization conducted a referendum Wednesday for its members to determine whether the bar association would join in the defense of the law, which bans high-capacity magazines as well as a broad range of assault weapons. The Courant reported that the vote was a near dead heat, with 734 votes in favor of joining the defense compared to 729 against. As a result, bar association president Mark Dubois announced that the organization would not join the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in defending the law, which was passed several months after the Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“In light of the fact that this difference is less than one percent of those voting and considerably less than that as a percentage of our entire membership, I am ruling that the referendum vote will be called as tied,” Dubois said in the statement. “I do not feel that the best interests of the CBA would be served going forward without a clear and empirically defensible result. Accordingly, I have decided not to sign the brief prepared by the Brady Center in support of the appellee in the matter of Shew v. Malloy.”

The Courant reports that the issue has been a contentious point of debate within the bar association. On July 21, the association’s house of delegates voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining with the Brady Center to defend the law. Two weeks later, lawyers opposed to the law submitted a petition with enough signatures to force a referendum of the entire association, something Dubois said has almost never happened before.

In January, the U.S. District Court Judge Alfred Covello of Connecticut upheld the constitutionality of the law. Lawyers representing the cadre of gun rights groups and gun owners challenging the legality of the bill have filed an appeal with the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now that the appeal won’t include the bar association, Dubois hopes there won’t be any lingering bad feelings when the organization has its meeting in September. “One thing is clear: we all share a deep and abiding faith that the CBA is a necessary and important enterprise,” Dubois wrote in his email to association members. “Let’s all continue to work together to advance the association and our legal community.”

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