Judge tosses lawsuit challenging ban on carry in CT state parks

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

Judge Janet Bond Arterton’s decision has nothing to do with the constitutionality (or lack thereof) of the Connecticut statue in question. Instead, the federal judge’s ruling to dismiss the complaint filed by Connecticut resident David Nastri hinges on the fact that there’s no evidence the law has ever been enforced, despite being on the books for more than 100 years.


I wouldn’t call this a win for the state of Connecticut, because under Arterton’s ruling as soon as the state actually tries to enforce the law against anyone Nastri would likely have standing to sue. But it’s not exactly a victory for gun owners either, because once again we’re seeing the federal judiciary raise standing issues that ultimately make it difficult if not impossible to challenge a constitutionally suspect statute without it first being enforced and causing harm to some gun owner.

Arterton at least rejected the idea that Nastri had to state when and where he planned on visiting state parks in Connecticut in order to have standing, which is a positive development.

Nastri had sought an injunction that would have blocked the state of Connecticut from enforcing the prohibition on concealed carry in state parks while the case was being litigated, but according to Arterton since there’s no evidence the state has ever enforced the law in the 105 years that it’s been in place, Nastri’s “theory of standing is nothing more than the sort of ‘highly attenuated chain of possibilities’ that the Supreme Court has found ‘does not satisfy the requirement that threatened injury must be certainly impending.'”


It’s easy to see this as anything other than a legal dodge on the part of the judge to avoid having to apply the Bruen test to the Connecticut law in question, and that may very well be the case, but it also places the issue squarely in front of the state. If Connecticut hasn’t enforced this provision in more than a century, why not simply repeal it? And if the state does plan on enforcing the law going forward, then Nastri (and other gun owners) don’t need to be arrested and charged with violating the statute before it can be challenged in court.

Connecticut lawmakers can continue to keep the unenforced provision in place if they want, and I’d say that’s the most likely outcome here, but in doing so they’ll be implicitly admitting that at least one of their treasured gun control restrictions is more show than substance. Frankly, the fact that Connecticut sought to defend this law should have been reason enough for the judge to conclude that there’s more than just a hypothetical chance that a law-abiding gun owner like David Nastri could run afoul of the statute, even if it hasn’t been enforced to date. After all, if the state is willing to try to uphold the law in court, that would indicate its willing to apply the statute against any gun owner they find carrying a concealed firearm in Sleeping Giant State Park or one of the other parks scattered around the state.


So what happens next? As far as the lawsuit goes the Firearms Policy Coalition can appeal Arterton’s decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, but from a practical perspective my guess is that there’ll be more Connecticut residents who start to carry in these places despite the prohibition. I don’t know if that’s the wisest course of action, but as long as the state isn’t actively enforcing the law there are going to be gun owners who’ll run the risk of arrest in order to protect themselves from predators in parks; both the four and two-legged variety.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member