Federal judge upholds most of NY SAFE Act

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the NY SAFE act into law in January of 2013. Photo: Karen DeWitt

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the NY SAFE act into law in January of 2013. Photo: Karen DeWitt

The New York Times is reporting that a federal judge has upheld most of New York’s gun law (sorry, paywalled link). Judge William M. Skretny of they Federal District Court in Buffalo ruled, the Times reports, that “New York’s expanded ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was constitutional, but struck down a provision forbidding gun owners from loading their firearms with more than seven rounds.” He said the seven-round limit was an “arbitrary restriction” that violated the second amendment.

New York was the first state to pass the tougher new gun laws after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December. The law, although popular downstate, has been controversial.

 

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72 Comments on “Federal judge upholds most of NY SAFE Act”

  1. Scott says:

    This ruling is distressing. Upholding rifle bans on black colored firearms is unconstitutional. The use of “assault weapon” language is highly misleading to the community because “Assault Weapons” are fully automatic. No New Yorker has an “Assault Weapon” unless he/she has a Class 3 FFL licence. The number of NY class 3 owners is 7 in the entire state, and all are squeaky clean. The costs to be class 3 are exorbitant. The concept to ban components of a firearm based on how “scary” it looks is absurd. The meaning of Semi Automatic is one pull of the trigger equals one discharge. The meaning of single action is the hammar of the weapon must be manually cocked then put on safe until ready to discharge, when the safety is disengaged and the trigger mechanisim is engaged. The meaning of double action is the firearm may be fired after it’s safety mechanisim is removed and draws the hammar back by the firing mechanisim.

    The process and costs accrued to recieve a conncealed carry licence is not based on safety, but revinue. In NY City, only the wealthiest people may carry and freely own a firearm. Purely revinue based, creating more of a caste system that we are trapped in.
    The ruling on ammunition and magazines is likewise done in poor language. The judge clearly stated the capacity of ammunition a firearm may carry is negligible. Then he rules in favor of 10 round capacity. If it is negligible, should that not mean a firearm should be able to carry it’s designed limit? In addition he stated that the safe act was put in to place for purely political reasons, due to Gov. Cuomo’s White House intentions. It sheds light upon the reasons Gov. Cuomo jumped in front of this issue, was to recieve political benefit from the various Democrat party support groups.

    In summary; This is in violation of our founding father’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, The Marbury V. Madison (Very Important) ruling, and the clear intent of what freedom is defined by. In legal terms I would also advise upon the meaning of the following words:

    The state: The State referrs to the people within a geographic area. The definition does not mean the body (ruling) politic.
    The Militia: The militia does not refer to the national guard or reserves, it refers to You, You have the right to take up arms against the government wether it be federal or state to defend your freedoms and to remove tyranny. The second amendment also clearly defines firearms ownership to be of equal to the government and times you live in.
    You as a human being of sound mind and body are the militia. You may join together to fix what has been broken. A perfect example of this is the two following opposing organisations: Media Matters on the left, and the Tea Party Patriots on the right, these people are currently unarmed however they are another example of a militia. The patriotic Americans who have militia organisations at this time have the right to exist as a body. They are citizens who are largely upholding the law . They are the exact opposite of the street gangs of say Chicago or Detroit, both failed cities due to overreach of the elected corrupted officials. All past mayors of Chicago have drained their community and caused blight, the current mayor of detroit is in a prison cell.
    The current mayor of Chicago has in effect done nothing to uplift the community or decrease crime. There us more killed due to all forms of violence in Chicago in one year than the Battle of Falluja Iraq.

    I ask you to love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek, and remember wether they be democrat or republican they look out for their own interests first, the Safe Act was a travesty committed by one man seeking greater power.

  2. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “I ask you to love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek, and remember wether they be democrat or republican they look out for their own interests first,”

    As I remember it, the guy who asked us to love our neighbor and turn the other cheek wanted us to think of the interests of others ahead of our own petty interests. I’m not opposed to a little blasphemy but putting Jesus up as a gun rights supporter is a whopper.

    Beyond that the State does not refer to people within a geographic area and the Militia does refer to an organized guard or reserve and not to an individual. Citizens who organize on their own without the support of their fellow citizens through some sort of referendum or election are vigilantes or street gangs if they take any armed action.

    It is so hard to keep backwards world from slipping into our universe, but I keep trying.

  3. Tony Goodwin says:

    The Second Amendment should only apply to muzzle-loading flintlocks that were the most dangerous weapons available in 1789. Anything else not appropriate for sport hunting (whether it looks scary or not) should be controlled for the lives it will save. In Newtown the semi-automatic rifle took less than a minute to kill 26. If the shooter only had a seven round clip, 19 people might be alive today.

  4. Pete Klein says:

    I think it was reasonable and intelligent to dump the 7 rounds limit in a ten round clip. It was like saying you can’t have more than 10 gallons of gas in a tank that hold 12 gallons.
    I have to agree with knuckle. What does Jesus have to do with gun rights or even guns? The answer is nothing.

  5. Warren says:

    It’s amazing how liberals are so pro rights, as long as its the rights they want. And the rest are cast aside with out a blink of a eye. And they’re perfectly ok with anything the government tells them is bad and shouldn’t be available, because once again if some one government says its bad for u it must be, instead of using, what are supreme state leader says as “common scense”. I look at as this way the usuals that spew off much better life would be if everybody would see they’re way basically is the foundation of socialism, I’m sure they would disagree because, well that is all they can manage to do.

  6. Peter Hahn says:

    People should remember that it is the courts that decide constitutionality, not the talk show entertainers.

  7. dave says:

    “the Safe Act was a travesty committed by one man seeking greater power.”

    The Safe Act was passed by democratically elected state legislatures, signed into law by a governor who was overwhelmingly elected by the people of this state, and has been upheld by our court systems.

    It sounds like you dislike more than just this law… it sounds like you dislike democracy.

  8. Dawn says:

    Saying that the second amendment only applies to “muzzleloaders and sport” is like saying the First Amendment only applies to ink, parchment paper, the local pub and town squares- not the internet, TV and Radio. It has been said that those who give up liberty for security will lose both.

  9. Warren says:

    Speaking if democracy, perhaps we should put all bills to a vote of the people instead of politicians fed by special interest groups, then a true democracy would cut through the red tape and make a true democracy and not the false one that stand today. Politicians might as well be a corporate bill board for coke or Pizza Hut because that’s all they really stand for, not the people

  10. The Original Larry says:

    “The Second Amendment should only apply to muzzle-loading flintlocks that were the most dangerous weapons available in 1789. Anything else not appropriate for sport hunting (whether it looks scary or not) should be controlled for the lives it will save. In Newtown the semi-automatic rifle took less than a minute to kill 26. If the shooter only had a seven round clip, 19 people might be alive today.”

    So, all those people who were slaves in 1789 ought to be returned to their masters? Do you even read what you write before hitting the Submit Comment button? Also, it’s a magazine, not a clip, and to suggest that 19 people might be alive if the Newtown shooter “only had a seven round clip” makes as much sense as saying that hundreds of people would still be alive if the last 747 to crash only had 25 seats instead of several hundreds.

  11. Tony Goodwin says:

    To Original Larry:
    I think it should have been obvious that my statement said the Constitution should have evolved from its 1789 status. That didn’t just mean the Second Amendment, but gun rights (not slavery) was the subject of this thread. O.K., so it’s a “magazine” and not a “clip”, but your rationale for shrinking the size or air planes just doesn’t make any sense. Air planes are not designed to kill – guns are.

  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    26 people were killed, innocent little children and adults trying to protect them, and defenders of gun rights are going to quibble over the proper technical use of the words clip or magazine?

  13. The Original Larry says:

    It should have been obvious, but it wasn’t. Is it only necessary to be accurate or clear when it supports your argument?

  14. JDM says:

    Tony Goodwin: “If the shooter only had a seven round clip, 19 people might be alive today.”

    Now, if we can just get those pesky, mass-murdering freaks to obey the law….hmmm….

  15. JDM says:

    Better yet….

    Let’s pass a law that says you can’t shoot someone.

    Since it’s these great laws that are going to save us, let’s get right to the point!

  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    It is important to be clear and accurate but the use of the word “clip” is “Widely used as a synonym for “magazine”…” as even The Gun Zone admits. http://www.thegunzone.com/clips-mags.html

    They do warn you will be exposed to ridicule if you misuse the term as the “venerable” Marlin Firearms has done. They warn it is like saying “tires” when you mean “wheels”.Hahahahaha!! I will add it is like calling a tomato a vegetable when any idiot knows a tomato is a fruit, or saying motor when you mean engine. Only a fool would say motor when they really meant engine. And sometimes people call a horse that measures 14.2 hands a pony when any dolt know that a pony is shorter than 14.2 hands. And they credit Columbus with finding the New World when even he thought he had found China, and notwithstanding the fact that people who lived here had found the New World centuries earlier along with the Vikings and possibly French fishermen, the Irish and others.

    And how many people realize that the Second Amendment as passed by Congress is different than the Second Amendment that was ratified by the States?

    “As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives:[23]
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[24]
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    Note that a comma has disappeared! Hah! Clearly the Second Amendment was not correctly ratified!!!!! Only an ignoramus would hold that the Second Amendment is legal with such a glaring error!

  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And hey, look at this! The states that have been proactive in regulating firearms have the least numbers of firearms deaths, on average. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/20/gun-violence.html

    And the number of deaths have been going down as more regulation has been put into effect.

  18. The Original Larry says:

    KHL,
    Only a fool, or perhaps an ignoramus, would fail to understand that there is a huge difference between a clip and a magazine that goes directly to the heart of what is and is not an “assault weapon”. Those who want to ban all guns (and no use to protest that that’s not the real mission) find it expedient to throw around the term “assault weapon” as if they knew the difference. It sounds so much more reasonable, especially to the uninformed, to ban “assault weapons” or “machine guns” or “scary looking guns” than it is to ban semi-automatic shotguns or hunting rifles. But hey, why worry about technicalities? The Governor and his lackeys didn’t worry when they imposed the Safe Act on us.

  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “Those who want to ban all guns (and no use to protest that that’s not the real mission)…”

    So you are going to define your way into winning a debate?

  20. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Gun owners themselves often use the term clip for magazine. Gun rights groups are very picky about this because they want to use small technical distinctions to stop legislation regulating weapons, I get it, that is their right, but let’s not pretend that this distinction is the heart of the matter.

    The heart of the matter is that there are thousands of deaths every year due to the use or misuse of guns. Many of the dead are children. Many of the dead are family members in the gun owner’s own home. The heart of the matter is that most American agree that there should be a limit placed on people who apparently have no self-restraint and become a danger to the rest of us.

  21. Thank goodness we didn’t have some (insert Darth Vader music) ACTIVIST JUDGE overturn the sainted, unchallengeable will of elected legislators.

  22. dave says:

    “Now, if we can just get those pesky, mass-murdering freaks to obey the law….hmmm….”

    The point is not to create laws and hope that mass murdering freaks will obey them.

    The point is to create laws that prevent these situations by limiting the types of weapons available to mass murdering freaks in the first place.

  23. dave says:

    “and no use to protest that that’s not the real mission”

    Larry, I legitimately do not want to ban all guns. I know people who do, but they are a tiny, tiny inconsequential fraction of the people who are for gun control. They are on the extreme end of the issue, akin to those on the other side who think everyone should have an arsenal in a backyard bunker.

    Don’t base your views on the opposing fringe.

    Maybe if we pull back from that paranoia a little bit, a more honest conversation can be had about the issue.

  24. The Original Larry says:

    The Safe Act is a masterpiece of arbitrary, imprecise, vague and sometimes contradictory language. I think it behooves anyone interested in constitutional rights (of any description) to be very precise about what laws say. You can’t just make it up as you go along, unless your goal is a catch-all prohibition.

  25. dave says:

    Larry, I’ve read that law front to back, back to front, more times than I care to count. I can understand how someone might consider parts of it arbitrary… but imprecise? Vague? It seems to stumble over itself to be crystal clear and overly detailed so as to target very specific weapons and ammunition types… the reason for this was to address and avoid exactly the types of fears you are expressing.

    Exactly which parts of the law do you think constitute a “catch-all” prohibition?

  26. Anti-pot laws turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.

    Oops, wrong thread.

    I meant, the NYSAFE Act does htat.

  27. JDM says:

    dave: “limiting the types of weapons available to mass murdering freaks”.

    This law limits weapons available to the law-abiding.

    Fail.

  28. JDM says:

    Fortunately, there are many NYS residents who live in a Cuomo-free zone. They have, and will always keep, the weapons needed protect themselves and others.

    I hope to be in a Cuomo-free zone store when some mass-murdering freak levels a weapon at an innocent.

    What will happen in a Cuomo-free zone?

    1) no innocent lives will be lost
    2) one mass-murdering freak will leave the store at room temperature, or in handcuffs.
    3) no other mass-murdering freaks will ever attempt an episode at that store, town, or county.

  29. dave says:

    “This law limits weapons available to the law-abiding.”

    Yes. This is often what laws do. They limit things, usually in the name of public safety and greater good.

    Welcome to a society based on laws.

  30. dave says:

    “They have, and will always keep, the weapons needed protect themselves and others.”

    And this law does not prohibit people from owning guns to protect themselves.

    See, it is a win-win.

  31. JDM says:

    dave: ‘See, it is a win-win.

    I disagree.

    We all know that the mass-murdering freaks will not be affected by this law.

    It’s a win-lose. (mmf to law-abiding)

    Mass-murdering freaks like gun-free zones. (Colorado movie theater was gun-free, the school in Conn. was gun-free, the army base was gun-free).

    Mass-murdering freaks do not like Cuomo-free zones.

  32. Walker says:

    “the army base was gun-free”

    Really? We have gun-free army bases?!

    And let us just imagine for a minute that the Colorado movie theater had been bristling with well-armed good guys… You really think that the mass-murdering freak would have been the only one leaving the theater dead or wounded? Wow! That’s some kind of optimism!

  33. The Original Larry says:

    Walker,
    Don’t you think that making guns illegal and hoping that that stops “mass-murdering freaks” and other assorted bad guys from using them in the commission of crimes is some kind of wishful thinking? What’s the difference?

  34. dave says:

    “We all know that the mass-murdering freaks will not be affected by this law.”

    Right. The ole ‘not everyone obeys laws so we should not have laws’ argument.

    Speeding, drugs, murder, child porn. Should we get rid of all laws because some determined criminals find ways around them? Of course not.

    What this law does is it limits the availability of a few specific weapons that are being used to kill innocent people, while still protecting our rights to own the vast majority of guns in general.

    You have to remember, Adam Lanza simply walked into his mother’s room and grabbed her legal weapons and used them to commit his mass murder. If those weapons were not there, because there was a law against his mother owning them, that tragedy almost certainly would not have happened as it did.

  35. Walker says:

    Larry, I think that reducing the number of shots that can be fired in any particular period of time would pretty certainly reduce the number of gun deaths. How about single-shot weapons? There’s an old-time saying among guides that if they hear a multiple gunshots, they probably won’t find a sport with a deer.

    I think that anything that could be done to reduce the obsession that a large segment of our society has with guns would be even better, though for the life of me I can’t think of any measures that would be likely to accomplish this. But far too many of us apparently live in a fantasy world in which gun-toting good guys are blowing away gun toting bad guys left and right. People need to grow up, and try living in the real world.

  36. oa says:

    “The Governor and his lackeys didn’t worry when they imposed the Safe Act on us.”
    Larry–A serious question. How has the Safe Act personally impacted you, and made your life worse? I’m trying to understand the basis of your anger. Really.

  37. dave says:

    You guys have probably seen this video, but if not… you should check it out.

    http://youtu.be/LORVfnFtcH0

    It illustrates the point many are making here.

  38. “The Safe Act is a masterpiece of arbitrary, imprecise, vague and sometimes contradictory language.”

    Kind of like the 2nd Amendment.

    “A WELL REGULATED Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

    The mere act of regulating, by definition, is an infringement.

  39. The Original Larry says:

    If complying with the provisions of the law wasn’t enough, I am deeply troubled by the manner in which it was passed. Even people who support banning guns in theory were dismayed by the practice. You can’t endorse bad behavior just because it suits your purpose. Imagine the revolt if an anti-abortion law was passed the same way.

  40. The Original Larry says:

    “You have to remember, Adam Lanza simply walked into his mother’s room and grabbed her legal weapons and used them to commit his mass murder. If those weapons were not there, because there was a law against his mother owning them, that tragedy almost certainly would not have happened as it did.”

    What if he used the guns that are still legal today? So dave, are you for banning all guns, or not? Sounds like it from here, no matter what you say.

  41. Walker says:

    “What if he used the guns that are still legal today?”

    Then the children would have been killed. No one has any illusions that any law is going to stop every last gun death. The object is to reduce the number killed, if possible. It’s pretty clear that with the NRA’s strangle hold on politicians, there’s not much chance of any meaningful reform. And it’s pretty clear that the state-by-state approach is doomed to failure, at least short term. But if we all give up, nothing will ever improve.

  42. OL: A lot of people who supported the law (which includes many people who do NOT support the outright ban of guns) objected to the dubious manner in which it was passed.

  43. dave says:

    “What if he used the guns that are still legal today? So dave, are you for banning all guns, or not? Sounds like it from here, no matter what you say.”

    If he had access to less deadly weapons, he would have been less deadly.

    I support that outcome. You clearly don’t.

  44. dave says:

    “Imagine the revolt if an anti-abortion law was passed the same way.”

    By a democratically elected governor and legislature? What on earth would I be revolting against? The concept of representative democracy?

    What were the final vote counts on the Safe ACT? Do you know?

  45. The Original Larry says:

    Dave,
    You stated clearly that you didn’t want to ban all firearms, yet now you say that Lanza would have been “less deadly” if he had access to “less deadly weapons.” Since nobody thinks even one death is acceptable, doesn’t that mean you want to ban all firearms? Which is it? And no BS about what outcomes I do or do not support; you make it sound like If I don’t agree with your method of preventing mass murder, that I approve of it. With this kind of double talk is it any wonder people get frustrated and angry?

  46. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let me explore some of the objections to the law.

    Arbitrary? Yes, some aspects of the law are arbitrary. A projectile weapon by definition must expel 1 projectile – bullet, ball, pellet, whatever. So if you allow weapons to be legal but wish to limit by law the number of projectiles that may be fired in a limited time then any number other than 1 would be arbitrary. Manufacturers make weapons, clips, and magazines with varying capacity – single shot, 6, 9, 10, 14 – all of those capacities are arbitrary.

    Imprecise and vague? Absolutely. If a definition is too precise manufacturers will modify a design in order to skirt the technical language of the law.

  47. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay, you asked Dave but I’ll answer for myself:
    “Since nobody thinks even one death is acceptable, doesn’t that mean you want to ban all firearms? Which is it?”

    You are correct that nobody wants to see innocent people killed by guns, bombs, cars, whatever; but everyone realizes that people will die from virtually every cause you can imagine. I don’t want people murdered, or killed by accident due to misuse of firearms but I realize that it is virtually impossible to eliminate murder or accidental deaths even if we as a society decided to outlaw all firearms. And there is NO serious effort to outlaw all firearms.
    So as a practical matter people are trying to find reasonable limits on the types of weapons and ammunition that are legal to own in our society in order to reduce the unconscionable number of murders and accidental deaths while still allowing ownership of weapons for specific reasonable uses such as: self defense, hunting, sport shooting, and collecting.

    So is it any wonder that those of us who are trying to defend your right to own guns get frustrated and angry that you wont acknowledge any of our points?

  48. Jimbo says:

    This was predictable. The NYS Rifle and Pistol Association and NRA are not going to beat the Safe Act using the weak arguments they presented to the district court. The meat of their whole argument was that some individuals and businesses were financially harmed. What they need to do is argue that the law was written by monkeys – a 50 page run on sentence that is unintelligible to New Yorkers, and open to subjective interpretation and enforcement. They better get a better script ready when they reach the US Supreme Court, or it will be enshrined in NY State law forever.

  49. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Oa, not to speak for Larry, but pretty much everyone I know who owns a semi automatic would be affected by, and was angry about, the seven-bullet limit that got struck down. And a good number of people would be affected by the expanded definition of an “assault weapon” that seems to be mostly about cosmetic features like pistol grips and not about anything that substantially affects the deadliness of a weapon.

    The question for me isn’t an ideological one, it’s a practical one. What effect is the SAFE Act going to have on gun violence? The rifles that they outlawed were used in maybe a couple dozen of the thousand-plus shootings in New York last year. Most of them happened with pistols, which are already heavily restricted in New York. What might make a difference is more law enforcement and federal background checks, to stem the flow of illegal handguns. Banning scary looking rifles might help politicians think they’re making a difference, but it’s not going to make a difference, and I don’t think it’s not worth the price of restricting the rights of thousands of law abiding gun owners. Address the main problem.

  50. Marlo Stanfield says:

    “I don’t think it is.”

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