Living up to their sport, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. has taken aim at some very high level targets.
In a lawsuit launched Monday attacking Senate Bill 1160, which issued in sweeping gun reform legislation in Connecticut, the NSSF named as defendants Governor Dannel Malloy, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, and state Attorney General George Jepsen.
The complaint stated, in part, that:
“1. On April 3, 2013, Senate Bill Number 1160 (“SB 1160”) was improperly introduced via “emergency certification” by defendants J. BRENDAN SHARKEY and DONALD WILLIAMS, JR.
2. As a result, SB 1160 bypassed basic safeguards of the normal legislative process, including the bill printing requirements and both the public hearing and committee processes, and was passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives the same day it was introduced.
3. One day later, on April 4, 2013, Connecticut Governor DANNEL MALLOY signed SB 1160 into law.
4. This is an action to vindicate the rights of the citizens of Connecticut whose Federal and State Constitutional rights have been adversely affected and significantly restricted by the passage of SB 1160 through an abuse of the “emergency certification” procedure, circumvention of the normal legislative process, and violation of Connecticut statutory law.
5. NSSF seeks a declaratory judgment declaring the invalidity of SB 1160 and an injunction prohibiting its enforcement.”
Regardless of personal thoughts about the gun legislation, this lawsuit is an important and long overdue attempt to restore, or at least retain, some semblance of grassroots governing.
I wrote several weeks ago about the Senate’s failure to pass a bill which would have helped ensure transparent government action in Connecticut. That article can be found here. The NSSF lawsuit seems to echo the sentiment of that post, which is simply that our state government continues to legislate in a secretive, top-down, undemocratic fashion. The recent flood of IRS, NSA, and State Department scandals points to the fact that the federal government is acting equally as unconstitutionally.
In the case of the Connecticut gun legislation, perhaps the result would have been the same even after greater public participation, more transparent processes, and a reasonable amount of legislative consideration. But the imperfect result is merely the product of improper means. For the bill’s opponents, the proper legislative process could have meant a more palatable outcome. For its proponents, a transparent process should be equally important, bringing legitimacy and sound governance to the end product.
For these reasons, this impending lawsuit is both practically and symbolically important. A victory for the NSSF will be a victory for every citizen, regardless of political ideology or legislative desires. An upholding of the status quo will serve as simply another nail in Connecticut’s coffin of responsive and responsible government.