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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Existing State Assault Weapons Bans

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The Court left in place a ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Nico Rasinski, 9, Bronxville, holds a sign that reads "No Guns!" in Cadmen Park before the One Million Moms for Gun Control Rally march over the Brooklyn bridge, Jan. 21, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Demonstrators called for new gun control legislation, demanding a ban on assault weapons and stricter regulations on gun purchases. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected challenges to assault weapons bans in Connecticut and New York in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 and injured 53.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

A man holds up a sign with with a depiction of an assault weapon during a rally at the Connecticut State Capital to promote gun control legislation in the wake of the December 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown on February 14, 2013 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Getty Images) A man holds up a sign with with a depiction of an assault weapon during a rally at the Connecticut State Capital to promote gun control legislation in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. (Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one's own home.

In December, less than a month after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented when the court refused to hear an appeal to overturn a Chicago suburb's ban on assault weapons. Scalia died in February.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.

Connecticut and New York enacted bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in response to the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother before driving to the school where he gunned down the victims with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. Lanza then killed himself.

In Orlando, gunman Omar Mateen used a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a pistol during the attack at Pulse nightclub. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after killing 49 others.

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