Federal Court to Decide New Yorkers’ Gun Rights

A federal appeals court decision is pending in a lawsuit to overturn parts of a controversial New York state gun-control law.

A decision is expected no earlier than February in suit brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, with National Rifle Association aid, to block facets of the so-called SAFE Act, according to Tom King, NYSRPA president. The court recently finished hearing oral arguments.

The act, which has drawn several well-attended public protests, was enacted Jan. 15, 2013, overnight in reaction to the Dec. 14, 2013, school massacre in Sandy Hook, Conn., in which a .223 cal. semiautomatic rifle was used.

ruger rifle

The case went to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Court Chief Justice William M. Skretny in Buffalo left intact most of the law but struck down two minor facets for their ambiguity and one very contentious piece banning more than seven rounds in ammunition feeding devices. The judge called the seven-round limit “a largely arbitrary number” that will not deter criminals but will penalize law-abiding citizens because 10-round devices are legal.

King said the lawsuit “will most likely go to the [U.S.] Supreme Court.” The suit is one of seven attacking the law on various grounds.

The judge left standing banned features of a semiautomatic rifle, such as a “conspicuously protruding pistol grip,” telescoping or folding stock, and thumbhole stock. He stated that if, as the plaintiffs argue, these increase “comfort, stability, and accuracy,” the state’s interest in reducing a murderous shooter’s killing outweighs the law-abiding citizen’s right to these features.

The judge also opined that banning internet ammunition sales would not adversely affect interstate commerce, comparing it to the state’s prohibition of internet cigarette sales.

The SAFE Act has numerous other features that are in legal contention, such as forbidding ammunition feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds. During the 1999 Columbine school massacre, one of the shooters had a rifle compliant with the now-expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban and used detachable 10-round magazines to fire 96 times before killing himself.

Similarly, the NYSRPA is also fighting the prohibition of semiautomatic shotguns that can use magazines holding more than seven rounds.

FBI data for 2011 showed that 323 murders were committed using rifles of any kind, whereas 496 murders were committed with hammers and clubs, and 1,694 with knives. The U.S. Department of Justice has said the so-called assault weapons under the FAWB were involved in only 2 percent of gun crimes.

What remains to be seen is how the state will implement its requirement that background checks on ammunition sales. The state reportedly is still working on the technology for a database, and no further information has been made available.

Back in October of 2013, State Police spokeswoman Darcy Wells told The Buffalo News, “The State Police is working on technology solutions to be able to carry out this section of the SAFE Act so that the public, buyers and sellers are not inconvenienced or delayed in any way when they purchase ammunition.”

King said he is concerned the ammunition checks might become “backdoor registration of firearms.

“The concern is registration whenever or wherever it has occurred has led to one thing—confiscation.”

Right now it is unclear what the ammunition background checks will look like, he said, but it could become “the most serious issue.”

6 Comments on "Federal Court to Decide New Yorkers’ Gun Rights"

  1. califmichele | 01/25/2015 at 4:52 PM |

    the teachers and parents are going to eat him alive on this Common Core BS too…..

  2. The safe act was not designed to deal with inner-city violence. Why? Law-abiding citizens who’s risk of committing crime or mass murder is minimal are the most affected by the Safe Act. Yet the legislature and this Governor ignore the toll violence, in all forms not just “gun”, takes on our inner-city residents.

    But, then again, 2 of the poorest cities in the US are in NY… Buffalo and Rochester…. Something this Governor and Legislature should be ashamed of.

    We now have 2 years of data. How has the law affected the overall gun crime rate?How many crimes were prevented by banning the sale and purchase of assault weapons?

    How many assault weapons have been registered?

    How many prohibited persons were actually prevented from purchasing a weapon by background checks?

    Of those, how many were actually charged?

    Of those charged, how many were prosecuted?

    How many weapons were sold illegally to prohibited persons?

  3. Shallow_pocket_taxpayer | 12/27/2014 at 9:21 AM |

    I agree we do need someone else, but I would not say like Pataki. He closed mental institutions, putting residents into nursing homes. Those mental patients (some, not all) attacked health care workers causing some to be permanently disabled. Since those closings more ‘institutions’ have been closed. How can NY deal with increasing ‘mental’ issues if there are no facilities to do so? FUAC

  4. chilitom | 12/27/2014 at 9:03 AM |

    The liberals want the middle class disarmed. What have laws, taxes or displacements are they ready to put upon us? Is it so bad they know that if armed we would revolt before accepting it? Don’t trust the state! This is the essence of the constitution.

  5. Pádraig O'Doul | 12/25/2014 at 7:55 AM |

    People are tired of Andy as a Governor here in NY which i why he only won by very little and lost in almost every area of New York outside of NYC and Long Island. Screw that guy, he’s worse than his Father ever was. We need another guy like Pataki again!

  6. Todd Haines | 12/24/2014 at 1:51 AM |

    Everything they’ve band on the guns is purely cosmetic the current itself still shoots the same bullet the same at around the same rate it’s ridiculous it was a bunch of feel-good logic so Cuomo could use them for when he runs for president

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