By Richard Weizel
MILFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - A national trade association for the firearms industry filed a lawsuit against Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and others on Monday, seeking to reverse a tough gun-control law passed in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which is headquartered in Newtown, Connecticut, just three miles from the school where a gunman in December killed 26 first-graders and staff, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Connecticut.
The shooting revived a national debate on gun control and resulted in some of the most stringent gun-control laws in the country in northeastern states like Connecticut and New York. Other states doubled down on their opposition to new curbs on gun ownership.
Malloy signed one of the nation's strictest gun-control bills into law on April 4, the day after it was approved by both the state Senate and House of Representatives. The law bans the sale of more than 100 types of military-style rifles, penalizes gun owners who don't register with the state police by January 1, and limits large-capacity magazines to 10 bullets.
In the lawsuit, the NSSF accused Malloy and Connecticut lawmakers of abusing their power to quickly push through legislation and said the law should be declared invalid. Gun advocates are seeking an injunction to stop its enforcement.
"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 (the bill) through an abuse of the 'emergency certification' procedure, circumvention of the normal legislative process, and violation of Connecticut statutory law," the lawsuit states.
The new law violates NSSF members' rights to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 15 of the Connecticut Constitution, the lawsuit said.
The NSSF includes about 9,500 members, including firearms manufacturers, distributors, retailers, shooting ranges, and sportsmen's clubs. Several gun manufacturers are based on Connecticut.
State officials said they are confident the law will be upheld.
"We've known for some time that groups opposed to the new gun violence-prevention law would be filing suit against it," said Malloy's spokesman Andrew Doba.
"We believe the bill improves public safety, and we will work with the Attorney General's office to defend it," he said. "Let's not forget that this has happened before. In prior instances where Connecticut has passed common sense restrictions on firearms, there have been challenges. They have all been unsuccessful."
In addition to Malloy, the lawsuit names J. Brendan Sharkey, speaker of the House, Donald Williams Jr., president pro tempore of the Senate, and State Attorney General George Jepsen.
(Editing by Edith Honan; Editing by Philip Barbara)