Federal judge rejects injunction demand filed in effort to shoot down new Delaware gun laws


A federal judge hearing a challenge against gun measures in Delaware ruled against opponents iover a major question in Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, Inc. et al. v. Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security et al, Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced.

In an opinion issued Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews denied a preliminary injunction sought by the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association against the state’s bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Assault weapons have become the leading weapon of choice in major mass shootings — including this week’s attack in Nashville — and large capacity magazines have been used in a majority of mass shootings where magazine types could be identified, the AG’s office noted.

The law bars the sale of the weapons, but not possession.

“This week’s heartbreaking massacre in Nashville, including the murder of three children, underscores what’s at stake here,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “The list of mass shooters using AR-15s and similar weapons to murder innocents, including children, continues to grow. Gun violence has now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for children in this country. And yet the gun lobby fights harder by the day to protect profits over people. No reasonable mind believes that this is what the Founders intended. I’m grateful to the court for its ruling and its thoughtful analysis of the facts, and to our litigation team for their tireless, excellent work. We will continue to argue for common sense, and the safety of our kids, for as long as it takes.”

Andrews found that the gun lobby “failed to meet their burden of establishing likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm, noting that Delaware gun owners “retain ample effective alternatives” to assault weapons and large capacity magazines for self-defense. The court also found that historical analysis supports ongoing enactment of the bans, noting that assault weapons and large capacity magazines “implicate technological change and unprecedented societal concerns for public safety”

The court’s opinion also notes the State’s successful citation of multiple examples of firearm regulation, from the nation’s early history to the modern era. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that a pattern of past gun restrictions would be a factor in whether states can pass new laws.

Under the lower court’s opinion, Delaware’s assault weapons ban and large capacity magazine ban will remain in effect.

The high court ruling seems to indicate that a state with looser gun laws would not be able to impose restrictions. However, the decision left unanswered questions for lower court judges to ponder.

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